V’Living’s Guide For A Wholesome Bed
The saying often goes that those who make their beds well have earned a heavenly slumber.
The need for utmost comfort and tranquility in modern homes is often realized through integration of functional and plush items and the bed is no exception. A guide like this one brings to light key components of a bed and how making the right choices when it comes to bedding can greatly improve your quality of sleep.
The Elements Of Bedding:
Mattress: Placed directly above the bed frame, a good mattress is akin to establishing the base for any comfortable bedding. Mattresses come in a variety of materials such as foam, polyfoam, gel infused, latex and innerspring. However it is the firmness of a mattress which can determine the quality of sleep. While a firm mattress may not be the top pick for a restless sleeper, it provides excellent support against back and neck pain. On the other hand, semi foam or soft mattresses may be the best fit for restless sleepers while also providing joint relief to those suffering from old age.
Mattress Protector or Mattress Pad: A quality mattress is usually priced high and should be treated as a long term investment. Therefore it must be safeguarded from dirt, spills, wear and tear with a mattress protector or mattress pad. This additional layer keeps the bed warmer and also helps keep the bed sheets in place. Mattress Protectors are usually made with cotton or wool and most also have a liquid resistant finish and are removable so can be washed whenever required.
Flat sheet OR Bottom Sheet: When it comes to bed sheets, it is recommended to maintain 2 separate layers; namely bottom and top/flat sheet. A bottom sheet is meant to add another protective layer between the mattress cover and the top sheet. The bottom sheet comes in either a fitted finish which features elastic edges to grip the mattress, or it can feature flat edges which require to be tucked under the mattress manually.
In tropical regions – the flat/top sheet functions as cover/protector to the fitted sheet and also as a bedcover. It thus could be colorful & printed to add to the decor. It is the layer on which one may lay down or lounge directly, hence making it most supsestiple to spills and spoilage. Therefore the top sheet is changed or replaced most often and is made of comfortable yet durable materials like pima cotton.
In colder regions the flat sheet is a layer below the Duvet or quilt where it is in muted/soothing solid colors with a cuff area which folds over the duvet.
Duvet or Comforter: The terms duvet or comforter are often used interchangeably and rightly so because they serve the same function. The notable feature which may set them apart is a cover. A comforter is complete on its own, not needing an additional layer of protection, compared to a duvet which usually requires a cover. A comforter is polyfilled whereas a duvet shell is often made with tightly woven high thread count and is traditionally filled with goose down or feathers to provide utmost warmth. A duvet is ideal to cover up for colder months and is used in combination with another blanket, and placed directly after the top/flat sheet on the bed.
Quilt: A quilt refers to the style of sewing used to bind various layers together, in order to form a thicker and warmer layer. These individual layers include sheets of fabric with a batting of cotton between them. Instead of a blanket or duvet, a quilt is used through light winters or air conditioned rooms. It’s a multipurpose product which can work as a bedspread or as an additional layer over a duvet for extra warmth.
Blanket: Rather than being stuffed or sewn together with layers, a blanket usually features a single layer, woven together using wool, silk or polyester. Due to their high density weave or brushed finish the blankets are ideal for the cold months of the year and may also be used in combination with duvets and comforters for the up to most warmth.
Bed Skirt: A bed skirt or dust ruffle is added to the edge of the mattress, by tucking directly on top of the bed frame in order to hide the exposed bed frame. It is not only decorative but also functional, keeping dust from settling through the nooks and crannies of the bedding folds. A decorative bed skirt may be matched to other elements in the bedroom such as the curtains, wall colors or even the bedding itself.
Bed Runner: Just like the bed skirt, a runner is both functional and ornamental. A vibrant or colorful bed runner can help bring various elements of the bedding together, and works beautifully against plain solid color bed linens. Bed runners are usually a corporate fixture in hotels, placed strategically near the edge of the footboard of the bed to keep any dirt from guests’ shoes to land directly on the bedding but recently it is becoming very popular as a decorative element at homes too.
Pillows and cushions: Pillows come in a variety of sizes, such as king, standard, euro, decorative and neck rolls. King size pillows are used for king size beds but standard is used for both Queen and twin size beds. Euros which are big square pillows usually form the back most layer or function as a headboard, This can be followed by 2 king size pillows or 2 standard pillows This is followed by decorative square pillows and oblong neck roll cushion which are added as the top most decorative layer. Just like mattresses, pillows also come in a variety of materials and firmness. Materials range from foam, polyfill, gell and cotton.
While opting in and out of the various bedding elements may be a personal preference, each of these components ensures comfort and an understated luxury of a good sleep, night after night. Which is why it is worthwhile to explore a guide like this one before investing in any aspect of your bed.
The Art Of Optical Illusion & Home Decor
It takes a keen eye and curious mind to celebrate art, especially when it comes to Optical Art. Weaving a labyrinth of patterns, lines and shapes which are crafted to trick the eye, optical illusion relies heavily on the viewer’s ability to perceive patterns and flashes of movement as the visuals seem to magically swell and warp within the boundaries of its canvas. It is famously non-subjective and abstract in nature.
An Ever Evolving Art Form
The term ‘op-art’ was first used in 1964 by Time Magazine in context to artist Julian Stanczak’s Optical paintings which were being displayed at a New York Gallery. However, works produced by artists like Victor Vasaerly and John Mc-hale as early as the 1930s are classified as Op Art today.
Before Op Artists came into their own during the 1960s and 1970s, preceding art movements like Cubism, Futurism and Constructivism are said to have served as inspiration for the canvas. Such is the story of famous Op Artist Bridget Riley who credits French Artist Georges Seurat, responsible for devising a painting technique called Pointillism, where a collective of dots were used to create an entire work. In the same spirit, Bridget Riley describes her optical pieces as collectives of lines, circles, squares, triangles and other singular elements which come together to form mind bending visuals under her precise and systematic application.
Modern Day Revival And Home Decor
While Op Art saw its heyday during the 60s and 70s, with the current comeback of mid century modern design, a revived interest in op art inspired pieces is being observed across fashion, lifestyle and home decor spaces once again. Its popularity is heigned due to its abstract, minimal and non subjective nature, lending it a timeless and modern charm. Its focus on creating surface tension using basic geometric shapes resonates with the modern ideology of curating an experience for the viewer. Modern op artists like Bridget Riley and Victor Vasaerly have been able to thrive by continuing to keep this essence alive.
The mid century era witnessed the use of op art inspired designs in home decor as well. Abstract geometric designs were especially popular as wallpapers and carpets and often featured contrasting bright colors which created a psychedelic illusion. However, the modern day adaptation is much more subdued and sophisticated in order to bring out the minimal and simplistic brilliance of the art form. This approach is also more fitting for urban dwellers who may prefer subtle pieces for everyday use. Today, this understated approach has fueled the creation of art inspired soft furnishings such as cushion covers, curtains, kitchen staples such as oven mitts and so much more.
Incorporating these pieces into the home is a chance for any homeowner to dip their toes into mid century modern design which opens up an avenue for curating a highly tasteful and evergreen living space.
Kibbes Essence Types & Home Decor
In 1987, stylist David Kibbe introduced the world to 5 style essences in his book titled Metamorphosis: Discover Your Image Identity and Dazzle as Only You Can. Though the premise of the book revolved around dressing for different body shapes, Kibbe defined each style essence by focusing on components like colors, prints, structure, textures and aesthetics. The five variations proposed by Kibbe at the time included Classic, Dramatic, Gamine, Natural and Romantic essences. Later, this system developed further to include two more essences known as Angelic and Ingenue and this ideology is still widely used to identify dressing styles of individuals.
Today, the Style essence theory has evolved into a lifestyle movement, not confined to just dressing principles for different body shapes but also other lifestyle preferences that are aesthetically driven. Kibbe’s style essence theory effortlessly translates to the spectrum of home decor and interior design, forming the basis of this guide by VLiving.
Kibbe attributes traits such as elegance, formality and timelessness to the classic essence, alluding to a sense of ancestry and conservatism. At its heart is a mostly neutral color palette which can stand the test of time and can surpass any trend. The aesthetic is known for incorporating symmetrical clean lines and avoiding elements that may appear either too sharp and angular or too soft and rounded. High-quality materials further accentuate the look and eliminate the need for any ornamental or exaggerated details in order to make for an understated yet luxurious appearance. In home decor, this translates to a space which does not require constant upgrades or a ‘makeover’. Pieces deemed perpetually ageless, especially those borrowed from styles like Coastal English, Modern Minimal and Mid Century Modern can be combined together to create a balanced and classic-looking space.
On the other hand, an alternative approach to classic essence which allows for incorporation of aristocratic elements with European roots, broadens the scope for realism and achievability. Parisian and Gustavian inspired pieces crafted in neutral color pallets may be great additions to a classic space, bringing the right amount of vintage charm needed to retain the timeless appeal and understated opulence of a classic home.
As its name gives away, the dramatic essence represents boldness and creativity. The style is associated with possessing a keen sense of self-expression and celebrates unapologetic theatrics, placing importance on individuality and dignity above all else. In his breakdown of the dramatic essence, Kibbe characterizes it through elements like sharp and exaggerated angles and bold color schemes which may often include contrasting hues. Asymmetrical drapes and oversized prints bring out this style’s excessive and maximalist characteristics. Shiny textures and glamorous finishes featuring tints of gold and silver are also commonplace throughout the visual embodiment of dramatic essence.
Known for its emphasis on ornamentation and bold geometric patterns, furnishings inspired by the Art Deco movement could certainly be classified as ‘dramatic’. Its vibrant use of bold and even kitschy colors combined with stylised floral patterns, obvious curves and sleek lines are an identical callback to Kibbe’s beliefs about the dramatic essence. When incorporated into the home in moderation, the style can add glamor and a luxurious edge to the space without seeming dated or ostentatious.
Kibbe describes the Gamine or Flamboyant essence as a union of yin and yang energy. Therefore spaces which embody the perfect balance of traditionally feminine or homely aspects with relatively masculine and industrial finishes may be described as Gamine. This style channels whimsical playfulness whereby tradition or formal structures are punctuated by unexpected details, forming a contrast in every aspect. A home infused with Gamine elements may be characterised as unconventional, androgynous and even bohemian, taking inspiration from a spectrum art movements.
Furnishings and decor rooted in mid century design may be added to the home in order to give it a Gamine face lift. Pieces from this time feature both structural and sculptural aspects so that neither functionality nor visual appeal are compromised. A subdued color palette, unique to mid century design balances somber neutrals like terracotta brown and charcoal gray with muted red and mustard yellow which are brighter by contrast.
A style with focus on Venusian themes like vitality, maturity and sensuality, the Romantic Essence is a celebration of all things feminine. Kibbe recognises key elements like rich colors, graceful shapes and luxurious finishes, as part of the Romantic ensemble. The essence can be adapted to home decor by experimenting with a variety of furnishing pieces having roots in Rococo French and Parisian Chic art styles. Both art movements feature picturesque details and exuberant visuals, serving as a testament to the creators’ keen sense of beauty and creativity. In home decor, this translates to use of either jewel or pastel color palettes, French Baroque prints, detailed frames and soft hues of gold.
Kibbe associates the Natural Style Essence with wilderness, nature and the outdoors. The style channels a sense of ease and effortlessness, with equal emphasis on both function and relaxation. It may be said that the basis of this essence is not to ‘put on any airs’, but rather to be down to earth and to be comfortable.
This style may be adapted to a home by incorporating pieces which are sturdy and functional. Earthy aspects like stone and terracotta along with materials like cotton, linen and wool may be used to integrate natural textures into the space. Farmhouse inspired furnishings are fitting for a natural essence home, owing to the style’s heavy emphasis on wood and raw or rugged finishes. On the other hand Scandinavian inspired pieces can offer a modern adaptation of the natural essence as these items may feature sleek hardware made with industrial materials while still using fabrics which lend a relaxed and natural appearance.
Although added by John Kitchener to Kibbie’s system, the Angelic Essence has come to gather its own due legitimacy over time. This essence is associated with otherworldliness, the cosmos and mystical beings. Think fairies, Greek goddesses, mermaids and angels. The style places emphasis on etherealism, as a means to offer escape from the everyday ordinarily. In other words, a home influenced by the angelic essence may quite literally be one’s personal doorway to heaven or an opportunity to ‘live in the clouds’, leaving ample room for individual takes and interpretations of the style.
Kitchener describes the Ingenue essence as being youthful, delicate and childlike. The style is associated with innocence and nostalgia, resulting in a sepia tinted interpretation of home decor. The mood is light pastels, floral prints, lace trims, pretty bows, wicker baskets and petite fittings which have a vintage or dated look to evoke nostalgia. Many describe the essence as being reminiscent of a ‘young princess living in the woods’, indicating to the utopian childhood themes often seen in disney movies.
To give the home an ‘Ingenue’ touch, one may borrow items having roots in cottage core design which can feature shabby chic furniture, crochet doilies and DIY art. Elements such as floral chintz and lace may also be added to the mix for their timeless and joy inducing effect.
The Throw Blanket Explained
If there’s one piece of home furnishing which brings utmost warmth and comfort, it is the blanket! But over the years, this bedding essential has evolved and given way to its counterpart, the throw blanket which seems to have become a placeholder in most modern homes today. From its functional advantages to composition, there is much to understand about what makes the perfect throw blanket worthy of a place in one’s domestic arsenal.
Telling Apart A Throw From A Blanket
It may be noted that while all throws are blankets, not all blankets are throws! For the majority, distinguishing between a throw and blanket comes down to their respective sizes and places inside the home. A blanket belongs on a bed and is usually the size of a bedspread, whereas a throw is often half the size of a blanket and is more suitable for sofas or loveseats and recliners.
Material and Composition Differences
A throw is often referred to as a lap shawl, indicating its light weight and versatile composition.They can also be more decorative than a traditional blanket since they are used more often in common living spaces. They are usually made of microfibres, linen, woven fabric, fleece and velvet. This allows a throw to be easily carried around the house or even be completely draped around the body.
On the contrary, traditional blankets are made of wool, woven acrylic, vellux and other synthetic materials which can effectively regulate body temperature which can drop naturally when one sleeps. Since throw blankets are typically not used for sleep purposes, they can be made using fabrics which do not possess the same quality to regulate body temperature as a traditional blanket.
Weaving and Finishes
Ideal for cotton based throw blankets, thermal weaves are rather loose and great for air circulation. On the other hand, knit weaves are more rare to come by in throw blankets as they can weigh down the material. However, quilting seems to be a common finishing preference for both traditional and throw blankets since it allows for layering of several fabrics while still resulting in a lightweight product.
Cultural Variations Of Throw Blanket
The name ‘Afghan’ is a nod to the shawls worn by Afghanistan natives to shield themselves from the harsh desert weather. First mentioned by Thomas Carlyle in his book Sartor Resartus, this term has come to be used synonymously with a throw blanket, especially the decorative variety which is knitted or crocheted putting together granny squares.
Having its roots in India, a Dohar is made by layering cotton or flannel between 2 sheets and sewing them together. Not only can it serve as a throw blanket, it is also useful for summer nights when a simple sheet may not be enough to stay warm against air conditioning.
A Dohar is often just as warm as a throw blanket depending on the quality and density of cotton stuffing.
Originating in the Himanschal state of India, A Loi or Lohi Shawl is typically worn by men or farmers who work the hilly slopes where temperatures are bound to be low. This shawl is often the same size as a throw blanket and is woven using light angora wool, making them warmer than an average throw blanket.
Similarly, a Dhabla blanket has its roots in the kutch, a region known for its expanse of salt lakes and desert. The Dhabla is commonplace amongst the Rabari and Bharwad communities of Gujrat and is made using sheep wool. It often features an offwhite base with a colorful border decorated with regional motifs and patterns. Just like the Loyi and Afghan, a Dhable is also half the size of a blanket and bears all the characteristics of a throw blanket.
A Handira is a traditional Moroccan wedding blanket, woven by local tribal women for the bride and while embellishments and patterns can vary from one community to another, the blanket is often made in neutral colors such as cream or ivory white. Its recent popularity has seen the style being adapted into throw blankets, indicating that a throw is culturally adaptable and a universal part of global homes.
The point of a throw blanket is not only to add style to the home, but also to serve as a home furnishing asset which can multitask. The more our living spaces evolve to accommodate other functions besides just the primary, the more likely we are to turn to home essentials like the throw blanket, which are meaningful and practical.
How DIY Culture took over Home Decor – VLiving’s Rendition
The onset of homemade or DIY inspired fashion is here in full force, and home decor is no exception. Especially popular during periods between 1950s and 1970s, Do It Yourself projects of the time included tie and dye, beading, patch work, crocheting, macrame among others. With the revival of vintage trends such as 70s bohemian, 60s retro and 50s mid century modern, DIY subculture was bound to make an inevitable comeback as a mainstream lifestyle trend.
Rooted In Nostalgia
More popularly known as Craftcore today, it was the pandemic which brought on the revival of the Do It Yourself movement. With enough time being spent at home, a natural gravitation towards comfort combined with wanting to make oneself useful led many individuals to explore their creative abilities. So much so that according to a report published earlier this year by metro.uk, the tag #HomeDIYProject had over 170 million views on social media by April 2022.
Store Bought DIY; a much loved contradiction
The capitalisation of DIY may seem contradictory to the movement, but commercially created DIY inspired pieces allow homeowners a fair chance to curate a cohesive living space that features a mix of genuine DIY, mixed with a few store bought variations. Despite the contradiction, home owners are open to investing in pieces created by sustainable brands that believe in artisanship, because the Make It Yourself movement too at its heart is about avoiding waste and salvaging the old.
The DIY movement is also an opportunity for brands to dabble in an exploration of various cultures and tell stories of diverse communities through their product offering. This bridge of storytelling centered around celebrating personalisation and craftsmanship wins over DIY enthusiasts by offering a sense of reliability and acceptance.
The Most Prominent Craftcore Trends Decoded
Rooted in individuality and creativity, the scope of Craft score as a home decor trend is truly boundless. However, few crafts practices remain the most widely adapted by both individuals and home designers.
Developed as a means to repair wear & tear of old fabrics, patchwork was a common practice across various cultures and communities around the world. With diminishing fabric costs, patchwork became a lost art, only to make a comeback in the 20th century as part of the DIY movement. The style can range from monochromatic to vibrant or Victorian. In modern homes, patchwork usually makes an appearance on walls as ornamental hangings or on cushion covers, table runners, pouf covers and quilts, lending a kitschy charm to the space.
Tie & Dye
Much like Patchwork, Tie and Dye is an ancient and versatile craft which has been adapted by many communities across the world. The Japanese are known to make Shibori, a distinct shape resistant dyeing method whereas India is famous for its Ekdali Bandhani style which usually features a single tie pattern sprinkled across the fabric. Africa also has its own style of tie and dye, one of the most popular amongst DIYers due to its ease and versatility. Tie and Dye is especially reminiscent of the 70s hippie movement when notions of capitalism were widely rejected by the youth of the time. Tie and Dye was not just a symbol of rebellion but also one of self reliance and self sufficiency, all sentiments which today’s youth still resonate with. It is for this reason that Die and Dye often makes an appearance in home decor essentials, especially on curtains, bedsheets and on kitchen essentials like napkins and oven mitts for an eclectic yet modern edge.
Hand Embroidery and Stitching
Often known as ‘Grandma’s Passtime’ within the DIY community, embroidering and hand stitching embody a therapeutic charm and homely comfort which is closely associated with simpler times. For some it is a reminder of childhood and of being dressed in handmade garments, whereas for others the art of embroidery holds cultural significance.
Few variations of the Hungarian Matyo embroidery would only be created for a new bride by a group of married women. Whereas some African communities use distinct embroidery styles to denote death anniversaries or a new birth in the family even today.
Under craftcore, a plethora of embroideries and stitching styles are thriving once again, with cross stitch, running stitch, rice stitch etc being created as decor items like hoop wall arts, gaining more mainstream exposure than ever.
A versatile art form, Resin has quickly gained popularity in the crafts community over the past few years due to its versatility and functionality. Not only does resin result in abstract and modern looking pieces but it is also durable and an easy material to work with. Brands and individuals alike use different variants namely plant based, acrylic and Epoxy Resin to create these pieces.
Crochet & Macrame
Other crafts which were already gaining prominence before the pandemic include crochet and macrame, also being heavily incorporated in home decor pieces by designers. These crafts are often used in combination with other materials for both a modern look and artisanal appeal. Macrame wall hangings and pot holders are especially popular home decor items, whereas crochet is seen in bed spreads, cushion covers, blankets and such.
Charms, Pom Poms & Bohemian Tassels
Perhaps the easiest, most convenient and versatile craft includes the art of making pom poms, charms and tassels which lend an instant bohemian appeal to any space. From experts to beginners, this craft is adapted to various home decor pieces by both brands and individuals. Materials such as left over wool and threads are most commonly used to make these pieces, which makes this trend both sustainable and accessible.
DIY will always find its way into home decor as comfort and creativity naturally go hand in hand. Its influence on mainstream design trends is not only encouraging but also a move in the right direction for preservation of crafts, artisanship and sustainability.
Cabana Collection: Tribal Influences In Home Decor
Before ‘Tribal Chic’ became a buzzword, there was fashion and interior designer Matthew Williamson’s 2006 runway show that took the world by storm! After he paved the way, tribal prints inspired by the Mexica or Aztecs of the 11th century started to take on a modern identity which transformed into a global trend by 2015.
From trendy to timeless
It may be tempting to dismiss these designs as compositions of basic shapes and lines but today tribal art is celebrated for its indigenous origins and the meaning it held for its native creators. Aztec is by far the most prevalent style of tribal art in home decor and fashion. The uncomplicated use of geometric circles, triangles and dots lends this art form an ease and versatility which has been leveraged by many to create elevated interpretations. Because of these qualities, what started out as a trend has proven to be a mainstay over the years in both fashion and interior design.
A call back to the 2010s
Its influence may have ebbed and flowed over the years, but colorful and contemporary reproductions of Aztec print can be found in homes all across the world. The art style carries with it a flair of flamboyance and freedom denoting artistic sophistication and appreciation for culture, qualities which translate naturally into any space decorated with such pieces. And while many say that Aztec or tribal ( often used synonymously) peaked during the 2010s shortly after its runway debut by Matthew Williamson’s in 2006, in reality the popularity of Aztec never truly faded away so much so that its mainstream resurgence is inevitable as observed with all other major design trends.
Cabana – A Tribal Take By V Living
The V Living Tribal collection denotes an amalgamation of two worlds, one of the distant past and another of the present. The pieces retain traditional tribal charm through use of black monochromatic print on a white base, punctuated by bright and lively accents of Ochre Yellow and Teal, prevalent in accessories and cushions. Pops of color are also added via pom poms, trims and edges to create striking contrast between neutral and solid hues.
The overwhelming repetition of lines and chevrons is deliberate, meant to result in statement pieces such as a rug or curtain for the living room, whereas bedroom essentials like quilts and pillows feature symmetrical design placements with light tribal chintz in the middle and stylised patterns on the borders.
The highlight of the collection is a kantha style recreation of aztec zig zag chevron lines which expertly combines not only two distinct design principles but also cultural sensibilities, ideal for an urban home. This marriage between the Indian and old Mexican influence has subconsciously inspired the name of our tribal collection, a call back to the nomadic and thrifty heritage of Kantha.
On the other hand, the triangle aztec chintz is the heart of this collection, lending itself beautifully to kitchen essentials like cooking apron, oven mitts and pot holders, a testament to the belief that tribal designs can transcend time, trends and space.
Natural Fibres To Fabrics – A Guide by VLiving
The most serene and comfortable homes consistently feature two main components: personal storytelling and influences from nature to varying levels. While homes that feature a balance of function and leisure have always been sought after, in recent years, the definition of a perfect home has become most synonymous with curating a space which has nature inspired design and decor elements in order for one to feel closest to their ‘roots’.
Cultural movements like ‘sustainable living’ and ‘eco conscious consumption’ combined with a global pandemic which restricted outdoor excursions has culminated to a new found love for all things natural, especially at home. As a result, natural textiles and fabrics have been gaining more popularity in home decor over the years.
Natural Fabrics In Home Decor
The choice of fabrics used across various elements of a home contribute greatly in achieving a sensorially natural experience. From color and texture to finish and function, natural fabrics embody many unique characteristics, especially since there are two different sources of natural fabrics, namely plant based and animal based, with each having their own advantages. And When derived using methods which do not strain natural resources, pollute the environment or cause harm to the source, natural fibers make for the most sustainable fabrics.
Plant Based Natural Fabrics
Today there exists a plethora of naturally derived plant based fibers such as the Indian Ramie, Jute, Bamboo, Fruit leather and Coconut Husk which is being adapted for daily use functional items by fashion, home and lifestyle based corporations globally. However, materials like cotton, flax linen and hemp fabrics remain most widely used and accepted by large.
Cotton: Cotton has proven to be a staple fiber in creation of even the most innovative and modern fabric blends. When woven pure or blended with other fibers such as synthetic, cotton fibers result in fabrics that are durable with high absorption for liquids and score high in color fastness, making them inevitable commercial successes. 100% pure cotton fabrics are characterized by their slightly coarse finish and are used extensively for home decor and furnishings such as bed sheets, towels and curtains.
Authentically premium and crisp bed linens are made using Pima cotton grown in the USA or Egyptian cotton grown in the Nile region respectively. Both these fibers are longer and silkier than their counterparts but make up for only 10% of the world’s cotton production. The remaining cotton fibers are relatively shorter and coarser but sturdy nonetheless, possessing all other great qualities. This type of cotton, known as Upland, is best for making durable curtains which don’t lose color or strength despite facing long hours of harsh sunlight, or for making kitchen towels which can quickly absorb large amounts of liquid.
Despite being a natural and therefore 100% compostable fiber, cotton is often vilified for being a highly water and pesticide intensive crop to produce. Considering the heavy strain its production puts on the environment and our natural resources, a new global standard to certify the organic status of a cotton fabric has been established. The Global Organic Textile Standard ensures that the fabric has been made using socially responsible practices, from the harvesting and weaving to the finishing stage.
Hemp: Having gained mainstream popularity in recent years, hemp is coming to be recognised as an essential in fabric production for both fashion and lifestyle industries. Being a cellulose based fiber derived from the cannabis plant, just like cotton, hemp also results in a sturdy and high absorbent fabrics. It can be easily blended with other fibers to achieve desirable results which is most apparent considering how often hemp is used to create curtains, upholstery and rugs in home decor. This is a testament to the fiber’s high malleability and strength which can withstand any season or harsh weather.
Despite possessing these invaluable qualities, hemp is becoming a coveted component in fabric making for its sustainable quality. Unlike Cotton, Hemp requires a sparse amount of water and pesticides to flourish and is able to grow quickly in most regions, making it an effectively carbon negative crop.
Linen: One of the oldest fabrics known to have existed, Linen is made by extracting fibers from the Flax plant. The result is a fairly light weight fabric which is prized because of possessing an even higher absorption rate than cotton. However, Linen is deepened by many as a high maintenance fabric because of its tendency to crinkle and crease easily, limiting its use to categories like curtains and cushion covers in home decor.
Despite these drawbacks, linen remains one of the most extensively used fabrics besides cotton, especially in homes experiencing warmer and more humid climates. It is one of the rarer fabrics to possess qualities like bacteria, radiation and electric charge resistance.
Animal based natural fabrics
The history of animal based fabrics is a long and diverse one compared to that of their plant based alternatives. While its usage may have evolved over generations, the process of creation of these fabrics has remained the same until recent years. Only when fibers are extracted naturally without impacting the health of an animal can they be classified as ‘organic’ or ‘cruelty-free’ fabrics. Popular animal based fabrics include silk, feathers and a variety of animal wools used especially in homes facing colder climates.
Silk: Buttery and fluid Silk is often deemed as one of the most indulgent fabrics, owing to its historical association with Chinese royalty. Its lustrous appearance is hard to miss and It can be effortlessly draped over any structure, making this an excellent upholstery option, especially for curtains, pelmets, statement cushions and other decorative home items. Pure silk is rather high maintenance on top of being expensive, however it is often blended with other materials for widespread commercial usage.
While modern homes may shy away from using Silk extensively, the fabric has made a prominent comeback in recent years owing to the popularity of home decor trends like Shabby Chic, Victorian and as yearning for Home decor styles like Shabby Chic or Victorian Vintage. These trends lean into the use of silk to channel opulence of bygone eras and modern day interpretations feature items like silk bed covers and quilts.
Wool: Wool is often known by its many synonyms namely kemp, fleece, fur or tweed, all used interchangeably. But all these are in fact different components of an animal’s coating. Wool fabrics are mainly classified as either hair or kemp with the former being longer with crimp and the latter having shorter and rougher texture making it the lesser popular option. Wool is most synonymous with sheep hair but wool may be derived from a variety of animals such goats, alpacas, rabbits amongst other species.
Made up almost entirely of protein, wool is prized for its thermal insulating properties and just like linen, wool is also resistant to bacteria, mold and mildew, effectively making this a hypoallergenic fabric. Wool is also known to be very strong and resistant to fire as It reduces heat transfer, keeping any space warm and cozy for extended periods of time. These benefits combined with its anti creasing properties make wool a great choice of upholstery. In Home furnishings, wool is most popularly used to create throws, blankets and floor coverings.
While these materials remain the most popular choices for fabrics, a heightened fondness for natural homes is leading to exponentially fast research and development of new variants. Pineapple leather, banana crepe and even milk protein fabrics are eventually becoming a normalized subsection of the lifestyle and home decor space, paving the path for natural homes to become mainstream.
Kalamkari: An Ode to the Ancient Art Form
Much of India’s art oriented dialect is synonymous with the ancient craft of Kalamkari, with ‘kalam’ translating to pen and ‘kari’ translating to craftsmanship. Said to be over three thousand years old, Kalamkari has been the object of many artistic tributes – ranging from creations by nomadic artisans of ancient India and art collectors before British colonization to fashion designers in the 21st century.
Originated in storytelling
The roots of Kalamkari can be traced back to the region known as Andhra Pradesh today. In its olden days, this craft was practiced widely in temples to create elaborate cloth hangings depicting scenes from the holy Mahabharata and Ramayana.
But as Kalamkari craftsmen or ‘chitrakatis’ traveled across the region, so did the art form. Soon, Kalamkari also became a vehicle to spread Buddhist beliefs as well as other religious practices far and wide.
Many believe that one of the most recreated motifs in Kalamkari: The Tree Of Life, has its origins in Buddhism as the tree’s roots represent the underworld, the trunk the earth and the long branches point at heaven, creating the perfect universe.
A Labor Of Love
Intricately made with a process involving over twenty steps, Kalamkari requires a detail oriented mindset and nimble hands to recreate this elaborate artform. The process often starts with bleaching, gumming and sun drying the fabric naturally to prepare a base for drawing motifs, the ink for which is made by preparing a mix of iron powder, jaggery powder and water.
But despite these elaborate steps, what Kalamkari is most notable for is its use of natural vegetable dyes used to create earthy pigments. It may be said these practices contribute to Kalamkari being one of the few art forms which is inherently eco conscious.
The Western Impact
Although Kalamkari had been a visual celebration of the life of the gods since the beginning, being exposed to an international audience across Europe, Euro Asian and Scandinavian regions catalyzed the beginning of a modern phase for this art form.
After being used to a rich and regular supply for centuries, British Raj combined with the Industrial Revolution in India deprived western customers of original Kalamkari fabrics among others. As a result, they began resorting to creating their own versions of the art form, which often bore Victorian elements rather than images of Indian deities and religious designs. This modernisation made Kalamkari far more wearable and accessible among western audiences whereas among Indian artisans, it led to the realization that this could be the key to revive Kalamkari after the Industrial Revolution years.
Kalamkari patterns of today can be traditional or modern or an amalgamation of both. The religious visuals of the old style still have a prominent place in the fabrics being created for today’s customers but the versatile appeal of western inspired Kalamkari designs cannot be denied either.
Small and delicate chintz patterns which often feature flower heads, leaves, and climbers as design components make for a pretty visual when adapted to home decor.
Through the VLiving Kalamkari collection we also pay tribute to the roots of Kalamkari which saw use of vegetable dyes for creating hues of red, blue, green and other earthy tones.
It’s also been a conscious choice to offer utilitarian items like pouch bags and kitchen essentials which allow an ancient art form like Kalamkari to thrive in the day to day life of a diversified audience.
The collection is geared towards curating a home which is functional but also reflects an appreciation for culture and history. Because it is often handpicked items with cultural relevance like these which set the tone of a home and elevate the aesthetic to a tasteful one.
Home Decor Styles Explained -The Shabby Chic Edit
A One Woman Movement
‘Shabby Chic’ may seem like a juxtaposition only because it truly is! First coined in the 1980s when designer Rachel Ashwell opened her home furnishings store named Shabby Chic, this aesthetic was heavily inspired by trademarks of the regency and subsequent Victorian era, bearing features like ornate metal frames, lace trims, floral motifs and theatrical curves.
Top ( Image Via Good Reads ): 90s Home Decor Guide by Rachel Ashwel. Bottom ( Image Via Pinterest) 80s Cult Movie Pretty In Pink featuring a Shabby Chic Bedroom
In her own words, Ashwell had defined the inspiration behind her store, “like living in a cottage full of flea market finds’ but also ‘with a hint of twinkly glamor’. It can be said that her outlook on Shabby Chic has come to define the mainstream understanding of this aesthetic. This odd mix of high and low end had never been offered before the 1980s, making this look all the more refreshing and sought after.
Left Top ( Image Via Pinterest) : Furniture painted over with chalk paint. Right Top ( Image Via Pinterest): Sofa featuring an ornate metallic frame
Shabby Chic – Decades Later
The ‘undone’ appeal of chalk paint coupled with aged white linens, asymmetric ruffles and feminine florals that sum up Shabby Chic are the perfect invitation to transport yourself to another time and cozy up at home away from worldly mayhem. These are the secret ingredients responsible for revival of Shabby Chic in the times of a global pandemic. However, our modern love for upcycling home decor, using natural fabrics and clean cut minimalism has also given leeway for Shabby Chic to be reimagined and redefined entirely.
Left Top ( Image Via Pinterest): Today’s Shabby Chic embraces natural elements like plants and bare wood. Top Right ( Image Via Pinterest): 1930s Botanical Illustrations serve as decor inspiration for modern Shabby Chic
- Rococo French Vs Gustavian
Today, Shabby Chic has branched out into four different sub genres, namely Rococo French, Gustavian, Cottage Core and Beach Style Shabby Chic. While there may be some similarities between the former two, Rococo and French Baroque are characterized by elaborate ornamentation, jewel tone accents and often – depiction of love in the form of paintings of human figures. On the other hand, Gustavian style takes inspiration from the Neoclassical French art movement and gives it a white washed and painted over appearance to honor simplicity and lightness associated with the Swedish.
Left Top and Right ( Image Via Pinterest): French Rococo style Shabby Chic which is heavy on ornamentation and opulence. Bottom ( Image Via Pinterest): Gustavian Shabby Chic style which is simpler and more minimal in comparison
- Beach Style Vs Cottage Core
Beach Style is perhaps the look most devoid of the Victorian characteristics which were first associated with Shabby Chic in the 1980s, instead displaying simple monochromatic pastels and borrowing from the ‘painted over’ worn out look of the Gustavian style. This style may sometimes also incorporate nautical elements like pinstripes and anchor prints which pay homage to ’Nautical Nostalgia’ of the 40s and 50s. By comparison, Cottage Core is more detailed and also the most popular take on Shabby Chic in recent times. It has the same thrifted appeal of original shabby chic but with an Amish touch that mimics the simple and natural lifestyle of the country side rather than the regal and ornate look of traditional Victorian Shabby Chic style. Perhaps, that is why the color palette of Cottage Core features hues like ‘Duck Egg Blue’ and ‘Sweet Peach’ – a nod to farm living. Cottage Core Shabby Chic style also provides room for addition of natural materials like bamboo and jute into the mix, which not only represent the eco-conscious values of millennials and GenZ but are also inline with the traditional Amish principles of embracing nature.
Left Top ( Image Via Pinterest): Beach Style Shabby Chic . Right Top: Cottage Core Shabby Chic
Shabby Chic By V Living
Evidently, Shabby Chic does not claim to follow any rules as it is a melting pot of various artistic and lifestyle influences, with only a few characteristics being the main identifiers, namely ‘rustic charm’ and ‘refurbished look’.
At V Living, we have redefined the style with unexpected quirks and elements which add character to the products. Bright pops of red and blue act as contrasting backgrounds to delicate rose floral print, adapted to cushion covers, oven mitts, kitchen aprons and table runners, giving the home a kitschy uplift.
Tea Coaster from V Living’s Shabby Chic collection ( bottom right) brings back the nostalgia of yesteryear’s late afternoons which were often spent over tea at leisure
Another subsection of kitchen essentials from V Living bear monochromatic floral prints which take on a close botanical appearance, nodding to popularization of Shabby Chic which featured botanical illustrations of the 1930s.
V Living Kitchen apron featuring Poinsettia Flower Print and pinstripe trim for a Shabby Chic Flair
To a large extent, the essence of Shabby Chic is to allow anyone the ability to recreate a vintage style that’s completely personalized and unique. At V Living, we are reinforcing this belief by offering Shabby Chic inspired artwork in a spectrum of designs, which can be transferred to stationery items like cards and scrapbooks to home decor essentials like table covers and cushions.
Ephemera and Floral prints make their way to V Living artworks paying tribute to all things considered rare by modern standards, such as collectable stamps, monograms and hand written text.
Shabby Chic has effortlessly established itself as a timeless aesthetic choice, always open to interpretation as the decades turn. Much of our recent history can be lived vicariously through this look and most of our home decor inspiration can be subconsciously influenced by this movement without our knowledge, unless we take a closer look and read the artistic signs to realize our deep rooted desire for comfort and nesting.
Mid Century Modern – A Flashback Of the Future
It is not an exaggeration to say that Mid Century Design is one of those rare phenomenons to have endured decades of design revolution. Even when it was not exactly ‘trendy’, it has always been in the background, sub consciously influencing the way we decorate and furnish our homes.
Mid Century Design – A Post War Reinvention
Mid Century design at its essence was about a new way of living, especially in western countries like America which were still recovering from devastation of the war era which lasted till the nineteen forties. Before both world wars, the Bauhaus style was gaining popularity in the 1920s but couldn’t come to full bloom owing to people’s shifting priorities from art to survival.
The post war era saw a revival of this style which itself was an artistic spin on industrial design. The 1950s were a time for redesigning and reinventing the past and the bauhaus style got its own modern spin, resulting in delicate lines, curves and use of industrial materials which were mass produced during war, to create furnishings and decor for suburban homes mainly belonging to the generation of Baby boomer, looking to start fresh in the nineteen fifties.
Beauty Of Form And Function
Designers harnessed wartime technology and used materials like plywood, metal and fiberglass to create designs which were molded to comfort the curves of the human body. Designs of the time certainly had a ‘sculptural’ quality to them as pieces of furnishings like the ‘Womb Chair’ were made for utmost relaxation. This is when the term ‘form follows function’ was first coined. Similarly, art made during this time period also started to reflect a similar sensibility, introducing a delicate curvaceous touch to the industrial and geometric aesthetic.
Timeless Minimalist Appeal:
Elements like clean lines and geometric shapes gave Mid century design a minimalistic appeal, so much so that even when it was recycled and updated to match the latest trends, it retained its ‘modern’ appearance. This unique quality combined with its nostalgic charm have made mid century the perfect for Millennial homes, giving way to an evolved look known as ‘mid century modern’.
The bridge from Mid Century to Mid Century Modern
Mid Century design is known for its use of a subdued color palette, giving prime importance to shades like browns and greens which were considered low maintenance with a high ability to camouflage dirt and grime. This style was developed in the shadows of war when home maintenance was a less serious matter to pay attention to, and the color palette reflects that. In modern day, this translates to a style which is perfectly suited to a fast paced urban lifestyle with no pretenses or ornamental flair.
Despite the similarity, there are subtle yet powerful nuances to mid century modern design which set it apart from Mid century design. Despite staying true to the sculptural geometric nature of the art, mid century modern also takes equal inspiration from nature. Its motifs nod to this theme and a prominent use of abstract leaves, flowers and wood textures can be observed, adding a much needed juxtaposition to the modern, man-made aspect of this design movement.
Modern Retro: V Living’s Adaptation Of Mid Century Modern
Paying homage to the core characteristics of Mid Century Modern, the Modern Retro Collection features colors that lend a strong sense of nostalgia with their sepia-like undertones for an ‘aged’ look. Accent colors in the collection feature muted yellow, green and red with gray serving as a true neutral.
Influences of geometry, textures and nature are tied together by use of contemporary prints which have been adapted to create an ensemble of cushion covers, storage baskets, table runners, aprons and other home essentials.
Quilted Patchwork Pillow Covers and Kantha Quilt Sets from the Retro Modern Collection
Besides the elementary use of mid century inspired prints, the collection also features a more subtle and updated take on this aesthetic through use of patchwork quilting for cushions and Kantha embroidery for quilt sets. Together, these elements come together to create a well rounded collection for a modern home.
Mid Century design tells the story of its time yet it is the perfect canvas on which one can imagine home decor which is suited to current times. This unique blend of art, functionality, and nostalgia has a place in every home because of the effortless charm it offers as inspiration.