June 7, 2010

does denim belong in decor?

Hilariously enough, I previously started a post on the use of denim in decor … and how much I didn’t like it.  For whatever reason, though, I just couldn’t wrap the post up and I abandoned it in my “Drafts.”  Fast forward a few weeks to High Point Market … where I learned that denim is back.  Over the last month or so, I’ve been absorbing what this means – so follow along with me in my “discovery” of this “new” trend.

To start from the beginning …

I’ll almost always tell you that I couldn’t care less if something is “in” or “out.”  What really matters is that you, the owner, love it … and if you love it, that’s enough.  Of course, we all want our homes to be stylish … but what we really need – and what nourishes our souls – is a home in which we are happy and comfortable.

For me, when I see denim in decor, I think:  Are we back in 1996?  Yes, I totally did the Ralph Lauren blue denim comforter, and I loved it.  Who didn’t?  But I’m soooooo over it now.  It’s generally a bad sign when you can date your interiors as coming from any particular decade, and, to me, denim screams “I’m from the nineties.”  In other words, denim is not nourishing my soul.

But maybe this is just a personal bias?  I’m not completely anti-denim.  I’m all about a great pair of jeans – and I’ve been living in my Joe’s Jeans and old school Calvins.

I’ve been working with my client, the OC Mom, on her master bedroom … which is looking fantastic, by the way.  We had a difficult time finding ready-made pillows for the chairs in her sitting area, so we picked up a bunch of things that we thought might work and took them back to her house to play with the styling.  I was really liking these washed linen pillows, with a very cute pleated flange, until they were mistaken for … denim!!  Egads!!!!

Washed Linen Pillow

The OC Mom wasn’t crazy about them, either, so we ended up not using them – despite their perfect color and bargain price.

The pièce de résistance came, of course, at High Point Market, when I was touring – of all places – the Hickory Chair showroom.  Do you see what I see?

Hickory Chair April 2010 Market 012

It’s a gorgeous Louis XV bergere from Mark Hampton’s collection … totally upholstered in denim.

Hickory Chair April 2010 Market 010

To be fair, this is the most elegant interpretation of denim that I have ever seen.  The fabric feels incredible.  It’s somehow crisp and soft at the same time and it would never be mistaken for something used to make (what my grandmother referred to as) dungarees.  By the way, that cool coffee table was custom-painted in a Benjamin Moore color.

Hickory Chair April 2010 Market 009

And doesn’t the denim look amazing in this setting?  I’ve told you before that Ron Fiore, Hickory Chair’s creative director, is a styling genius … and this “coastal chic” look that he put together is incredible.  Oh, the oversized daybed shown above was fashioned using two Candler footboards together.  Clever!

Hickory Chair April 2010 Market 014

Hickory Chair April 2010 Market 015

Here’s denim in another incarnation, here the dining chair.  Again, it’s fabulous.  Seriously, who wouldn’t want to live in this space?  We are totally back to nurturing this girl’s soul … and I’m dreaming of a house that looks just like this, preferably in Newport Beach.

So what’s the moral of this story?  I’ll concede that denim is back – under certain conditions.  The darker, the better (at least that’s my opinion so far) … and the denim should be used in the right setting and in an elegant way. Now we’re back to mixing it up – taking a casual fabric and using it in an unexpected, interesting way – and you know I love mixing it up!

Of course, this story is also another reminder that I should “never say never.”


  • Bryn
    Jun. 07, 2010
    LOL!!!! Love it!
  • Rae English
    Jun. 11, 2010
    The difference between the Pottery Barn slipcover and the Hickory Chair showroom accents, chairs, and duvet cover is the thread pattern. Fabrics used in fashion and interior design/decor seem subject to the same updates because the thread pattern in those items is the same thread pattern that is used in this season's denim clothing. Also, I would agree that things--fashion, decor, etc.--shouldn't be purchased or liked simply because they are "in"; however, there is that famous scene from "The Devil Wears Prada" (http://www.hulu.com/watch/13046/the-devil-wears-prada-cerulean-sweater ) in which we are reminded that we may_think_we chose what we like independent of fashion, when--indeed--we are choosing from what has been chosen for us by fashion moguls. I would imagine that the same paradigm is applicable to decor? We all have our fashion proclivities. I'll wear classy denim shorts out and old ones in which to garden; I wear mostly Lucky Brand denim jeans (without stretch); I don't wear leggings and will never wear capris, clam diggers, pedal pushers, or cropped pants. Perhaps our preferences are influenced by the women in our lives, as well as our micro and macro cultures. Capris, et al scream frumpy and staid to me (read: elementary school teacher or elderly or suburban, social-climbing, bleached-blond mom), while denim shorts and leggings seem to scream tacky to you. I'd wager that the women wearing capris don't think they're frumpy and staid as much as I know I'm not a tacky woman. I'd say we agree on the "jeggings", but recently my very classy mother wore a pair of Tory Burch denim leggings (http://www.saksfifthavenue.com/main/ProductDetail.jsp?PRODUCT%3C%3Eprd_id=845524446254074&afsrc=1&site_refer=GGLBASE001&ci_src=14110944&ci_sku=ParentItem0458537030111) with a Michael Stars white shirt, a Ralph Lauren blazer, Hermès scarf, and Jimmy Choo sandals. I thought for a 59 3/4-year-old woman, she looked amazing and very appropriately fashionable. So, maybe I'll keep my mind open to the possibility of capris looking incredible on someone... P.S. While typing this, I discovered you don't allow html in your comments; is that a protection against spambots or just a preference?
  • Rae English
    Jun. 11, 2010
    To wit: http://www.trinaturk.com/p/7925/c/465/s/503/Oliver-Pant.aspx Something it seems neither you nor I would be inclined to wear or enjoy seeing on anyone else, and yet, Trina Turk, renowned designer, has put it out there.

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