Silk wallcoverings are the new wallpaper
Words by Saffron Hare, Creative Director at James Hare Ltd
Silk conjures thoughts of luxury and is steeped in history, helped by the romance of The Silk Route, that ancient highway transporting riches from the mysterious East and in particular bolts of fabric with a lustre not seen before. Historically of course silk was only available to those who could afford it and it was a very powerful display of wealth. What better way to embellish the walls of your fabulous new country house than to cover them in rich exotic silks. In some of the grandest houses around the country these silks, some faded and fragile with age, are still visible. Opulent, extravagant, luxurious – no wonder this trend is back in fashion. It’s a beautiful glamorous way to decorate a home for a wow factor.
Plain silk wallcoverings really come into their own with another very beautiful option, hand painted murals. These create something totally unique and dramatic for a huge array of interiors and there are a number of exceptionally original and talented artists who can bring their clients’ wallcoverings to life.
Commissioning an artist to paint on silk is not only bespoke it’s also very personal. This has to be the ultimate finish to a stunning interior. As with choosing an interior designer, an artist will have a distinctive style of their own and can enhance a room with some incredible designs, from flowers and landscapes to more contemporary abstract motifs. In fact anything is possible. Letting the imagination run wild is part of the fun, the results infinite and keeps something of the exotic about it, striking right back to the heart of silk’s heritage.
Using silk on the walls is no less practical than wallpaper and it’s just as durable; more importantly it looks simply fabulous in drawing rooms, dining rooms and bedrooms. Let’s not forget the incredible colour palettes either; each silk yarn is shaped like a prism allowing it to take dyes like no other fabric. It’s unrivalled in this respect. At James Hare there are over 600 plain colour silks in the interior collection alone.
The emergence of silk as a wallcovering trend is no accident as new qualities and processes mean that silks won’t fade as they used to. It’s an incredible fabric and has many other advantages over traditional wallpaper too when paper backed. Apart from being obviously smart and very stylish, it’s ideal for inset panelling, creating feature walls and it’s also a perfect covering in smaller spaces. The natural qualities and textures of silk give the surface an intense depth of colour, creating warmth and lustre, something not achieved quite so perfectly with wallpaper. This beautiful fabric has another unique quality – as a natural fibre, it can create different tones and moods depending on the reflection of the light on its surface, which makes any room instantly more interesting.
Wallpaper, having fallen out of fashion, returned with a bang to interior design with the idea of a feature wall, choosing one spectacular design that would become the focal point in the room. As a consequence people are not as frightened of using bold pattern and colour around their homes any more, both of which are very current trends and are prepared to be much more experimental. This is why wallcoverings, I believe, are becoming popular.
Weaving their way into the huge market for bespoke, which is definitely a growing market especially at the luxury level, property developers have certainly grasped the trend for silk wallcoverings with enthusiasm and used it with much flourish and style. Leading developer Harrison Varma illustrates this perfectly in their latest spectacular project in North London, Buxmead The Bishops Avenue. Marisa Varma, their Creative Director, said: “I am a big fan of James Hare fabrics and have used them in wall panelling for cinemas and living areas. The fabrics give another dimension to the wall finishes adding texture, insulation and interest, which is perfect for finishing off a luxury interior.”
William Morris designs could be described as interior classics and the man himself had something to say on the matter of wall adornment. His words are just as relevant today: “Whatever you have in your rooms think first of the walls for they are that which makes your house and home, and if you do not make some sacrifices in their favour you will find your chambers have a kind of makeshift, lodging-house look about them…”
For more informatyion on James Hare Ltd, the silk specialists, visit james-hare.com or phone 0113 243 1204.