Cali-cool design school Part 4: Global textiles

5/20/2016 04:17:00 pm HELEN STILES 0 Comments

Time for the next instalment of my Cali-cool design school series where I delve into what makes Californian interior style cool! Part 4 is Global Textiles. I love a good textile, especially if it's natural, handmade or vintage. Luckily Californian style embraces all of these things. They key is pulling together an eclectic mix of the best global fabrics and trimmings in a laid-back, not too matched, nonchalantly stylish kind of way!

British interior design used to focus heavily on fabrics and textiles – think meticulously matched cushions and flouncy, frumpy curtains in floral or damask patterns (with optional pelmets, swags and tails!) Then in the 90s we saw the growth of minimalism (virtually no textiles or pattern anywhere). Luckily, we seem to be gravitating towards a happy medium these days.

Image: Carole Poirot for

Your typical Cali-cool style interior now incorporates texture as well as textiles, and helps tell the home-owner's story.  I think the Californians have got it spot on with their eclectic global mix. It's a little bit bohemian, a little bit rustic and definitely eclectic. They love hand-painted mud cloth on cushions and furniture; Moroccan wedding blankets as bed throws; Turkish kilim cushions on sofas or beautiful hand-dyed indigos from Africa and Asia. Australian and South African interior style relies heavily on these textiles too – I don't know why we Brits have been so slow on the uptake! In fact, it's one of the reasons I set up the Hide & Seek store.  I just couldn't find what I loved in the UK and was sourcing things from South America, Asia, Morocco and Africa to add to my collection, which seemed crazy! (Just check out some of the stock we have in the image above).

The key to getting that laid-back, collected look with textiles is to keep it eclectic, but clean. I find it's often easier to keep your big pieces simple and neutral – you're less likely to get bored and they're less likely to date (you can't go far wrong with sofas in classic velvet or wool and windows in simple linens). But then add some pattern, texture and colour  to bring in the pizazz! Global textiles really link into the continuing obsession with all things handmade, artisanal and authentic. Often you're supporting traditional craftsmen and women to make a living. But for the less altruistic interiors fan, let's face it, they just look cool too!

 If you're lucky enough to have travelled and brought back your own treasures, then you've probably got a great base already. Global textiles mix brilliantly with all types of furniture and house styles too – from mid-century to Victorian to brutalist modern. These few examples should get your creative juices flowing....

 Image: via

The huge indigo bedspread above adds vitality to this bedroom designed by Maryam Montague. Indigo is beautifully soft and drapey (yes, that's a word in my world) and the simple graphic repeats go easily with other fabrics and patterns. Extra marks for the kilim cushion too!

Image: Jessica Helgerson

Or look at these gorgeous Peruvian frazadas used to upholster a simple built-in sofa in an otherwise very plain room (Jessica Helgesson).

Image: Carole Poirot for

Our vintage indigo cushions (above) are made from antique hmong fabric from Indonesia. This amazing indigo fabrics have been woven for centuries to make the traditional full-skirted hmong costumes, with embellishments in bright yellow, pink and red. They go brilliantly with a leather sofa!

So if you have a room, a bed or a corner that's feeling a bit unloved, then liven it up with a few global textiles. Mix up patterns and textures – and definitely don't match. If that sounds scary, then you can mix some monochrome stripes with just about anything (check out our Moroccan pom pom cushions which go anywhere, with anything). Summer's round the corner, so it's the perfect time to bring in some colour.

If you're scared of mixing, then just follow a colour theme, or keep the patterns a similar size to avoid all out craziness. Alternatively, ignore that and just go mad like Junaglow founder, Justina Blakeney, below!