31 May 2010

Denim Blues

While visiting a friend in Harrisburg this weekend, I had a chance to stop by PA Fabric Outlet. Housed in a century-old former bakery, the offerings were so plenty that I had trouble focusing my attention in any one direction. Rolls of striped ticking fabric, swaths of soft gray suede, antique seamstresses' dummies gathered in silent communion and walls of trim volleyed for my attention. Slightly overwhelmed, I opted to do a complete walk-through so that I would know what I could find on a more leisurely future visit. One aisle near the back of the room caught my eye immediately. Stacked high with rolls of fabric in blues of every shade, it brought to mind a great pair of jeans with variations in tone that only add to its appeal.

Inspired by the comfort we all associate with our favorite pair of jeans and the fact that I love seeing materials used in unexpected ways, I thought I'd check out what was on offer in the denim furniture market. As it turns out, there's very little out there. Or rather, there's a lot out there but most of it is heinously ugly and barely worthy of taking up space in a basement man cave. The two main categories that I came across were bloated sleeper sofas and novelty couches patched together from old jeans and used for store displays. So I expanded my search to include accessories and interiors with a general bluesy mood that suggests the softness and variation of denim. With all of the washes available today, I think there's a lot of room for denim to be re-invented for the furniture market. The following is a small taste of the possibilities.

A grouping of vintage artifacts and a casual china cabinet.

Meticulous tailoring transforms rectangular sections of denim into an inviting sling chair from Scrap Lab. Frayed strips from old jeans come together in a cushion that suggests a seascape. 

Walls washed in blue create a serene atmosphere that works as well in an apartment office as in a beach house bedroom. Ralph Lauren Home offers paint kits to achieve the indigo denim effect.

 Screen-printed feathers add color to a linen and denim cushion from Elkhorn Design.  A studded denim couch is surprisingly elegant against coral walls in Cath Kidston's welcoming home.

(Images: License plate vignette from Easy Elegance by Atlanta Bartlett, publisher Ryland Peters and Small 2009. China cabinet from The Comforts of Home by Caroline Clifton-Mogg, publisher Ryland Peters and Small 2010. Denim strip pillow featured on Hey Susy. Blue washed walls featured on Home Design & Trends and Trendey. Studded denim couch featured in October 2008 British Vogue and seen on Nest Decorating.)

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