Furniture styles come and go, but tufted furniture has staying power. Who could forget the overstuffed Chesterfield sofa or the red velvet Victorian settee? Tufting is more popular today than ever. Upholsterers achieve this look by threading through layers of fabric or leather, often in a pattern, and securing the ends of the thread with a knot or button. The dense clusters that this technique creates are known as “tufts.”
There are several types of tufting techniques. Some lend themselves better to a particular design style than others.
The most common is diamond tufting; it is also the most popular and traditional of all styles. Its signature diamond button arrangement creates a soft, romantic look. Velvets, silks and satins give the style a more formal look. Linens and textured fabrics make it more casual, while tufted leather is more masculine. Bernhardt Interiors’ upholstered Kashmir Bed employs diamond tufting, creating a beautiful, relaxed style.
Biscuit tufting, unlike diamond tufting, forms a square pattern. The look is contemporary without the lushness of diamond tufting. The Theodore sleeper settee from Jessica Charles blends perfectly in an urban or uptown setting.
Button tufting provides a more chic, tailored appearance. When buttons are pulled tightly against the fabric, a shallow depression is created. The highlight is the button itself. This technique is best reserved for a traditional setting in an orderly, crisp living room, bedroom or dressing room. It’s certainly not intended for an active, kid-filled family room. The Raina settee by Taylor King is perfectly tailored in rich dark blue velvet with matching buttons.
As home decor styles continue to shift toward a more modern look, so does tufting. Blind tufting is characterized by the lack of buttons. The twine used to secure the tufting is simply pulled back and secured. The look is very systematic and sleek. Next time you watch an episode of “Mad Men,” look for this style of tufting on sofas and chairs.
Not limited to upholstery only, tufting is also being incorporated into the fronts of case goods such as dressers, buffets and chests. Of course leather is the most suitable choice for this application. Mixing tufted fronts with beautiful hardware and metal trims can transform a simple wooden chest into a work of art.
Designers create great spaces by paying attention to small but important details such as tufting styles when selecting furnishings for a room. The more you learn about furniture and the way it is manufactured, the easier it is to select the right pieces for your home.
Designer and home improvement expert Vicki Payne is host and producer of “For Your Home,” available on PBS, Create TV and in national and international syndication. Reach her at ForYourHome.com.