Silk fabrics give room rich look at reasonable cost


April 02, 1995|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Q: In refurnishing a room, my biggest problem concerns the choice of fabrics. I'm aiming for an Empire look, elegant and richly colored. I have been advised that silk would be the most appropriate material for this styling, but I wonder about its durability.

A: Silk is indeed the best choice -- not only in appearance but also in terms of durability.

There are of course other possibilities, such as some of the synthetic yarns made to resemble the texture of silk. At first, these may appear less expensive than the real thing, but the more one knows about silk, the more reasonable its price will seem.

Silk is simply the strongest of all natural fibers.

Properly cared for, silk fabric will last for many years. I can testify that even after eight years of exposure to morning sunlight and to monthly vacuuming and occasional dry cleaning, the silk pongee curtains in my living room are still as good as new.

Silk doesn't have to be iridescent. It is now available in nubby textures and matte finishes. And if the yarn has been properly treated, it can also be successfully printed. It is the improper dyeing, weaving and treatment of the fabric itself that accounts for the problems sometimes associated with silk.

As you assess various types of silk fabric, pay particular 'N attention to the material's weight and to how long it takes to regain an unwrinkled appearance after being hand-crushed. Look, too, at the depth of its color, whether in a luxurious or a matte finish.

The photo offers a fine example of how silk fabric can add a special elegance to an Empire-style interior. The swags over the headboard, the covering on the pillow and the upholstery are all part of Stroheim and Romann's "Jab" collection of silks. Each of the fabrics is in a different weave, weight and pattern. In color and design, the silks are perfectly coordinated with the Stroheim and Romann wall-covering of metallic stars on a striated background.

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