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Fresh fabrics dress your home in an array of colors, patterns and textures

When Margaret Jendrejzak talks to customers about a decorating project these days, she often hears them say: “I’m really looking for a minimalist look.”

That’s exactly what many of the new fabric collections deliver.

Boring? No. Clean and crisp? Yes.

If the new year has you thinking your home could use an update, fabrics are a good place to start.

Jendrejzak, in-home designer at Calico, 5501 Main St., Williamsville, pointed out fabric sample books from the new collection by interior designer and television personality Vern Yip, for example. Yip collaborated with Trend to create a collection of fabrics and trims.

The collection includes geometrics, solids, florals and wide stripes as well as a nod to dogs and monkeys. Embroidery work on fabrics is not overdone; a few fabrics have some metallic shimmer thrown in. Most fabrics are done in two tones or two colors presented in one of four groupings – orange/poppy, blue/ocean, natural/sesame and gray/charcoal.

The 54-inch-wide fabrics retail from $30 to $50 per yard and work well with the cleaner-lined furniture also popular now – pieces that are not simpler in details but simpler in style, Jendrejzak said.

It might be a sofa with a nice tailored arm, she said.

This look appeals to people of different ages, she said, from young clients to those age 50-plus who are downsizing or moving into a new place with an open-concept floor plan, such as a loft.

Similarly, La-Z-Boy offers its Urban Attitudes collection of clean, simple-lined furniture in a large assortment of fabrics suited to a more modern look.

“Simple but with modern elegance,” is how Michele Dzikoski, owner of Fabric Warehouse, 6599 S. Transit Road, Lockport, described today’s fabrics and furnishings.

Other fabric trends she highlighted: African and Asian design influences; warm and inviting colors including Marsala, Pantone’s Color of the Year; shades of blue; asymmetrical prints, and digital prints.

“They take a digital image of a flower and apply it to the fabric,” she said.

Dzikoski also said that lemon and lime are moving out of the kitchen to other rooms in the home. Picture pops of the colors in a pillow placed on a gray sofa.

In most cases, customers want solid-covered furniture with contrasting pillows, Jendrejzak said.

“Change your pillows, change your look,” she said.

One option if storage space is tight: Removable pillow covers let you use the same pillow inserts when you change the cover. As with other accent pillows, you can buy them already made (Pottery Barn is one resource), have them custom-made or sew them yourself.

As Mary Carol Garrity, whose Style @ Home column runs in this section most Sundays, wrote in her book, “Nell Hill’s Rooms We Love” (Andrews McMeel publishing, $29.99): “Pillows talk: One of the simplest and most economical ways to make color statements is in the use of accent pillows.”

Another fabric trend: A move toward more natural fibers – especially linens and linen blends and even some wool upholstery fabrics, noted Sandy Hertel, owner of Elmwood Village Fabrics, 543 Franklin St. (

“There’s definitely more availability of natural fibers – linens for windows, in particular, and sometimes more of an upholstery weight,” Hertel said.

“I’m also starting to see lace coming in a little bit, but not Grandma’s lace. Let’s just call it ‘open-work,’ ” she added.

Moving into the new year, Hertel offers fabrics from Cotton + Steel, a division of RJR Fabrics. This young company features fabrics from five designers; their collections come with names such as Playful, Mochi and Tokyo Train Ride.

The 45-inch-wide fabrics begin at $12.50 per yard and can be used for casual home decor and quilting as well as for clothing. Some of the patterns scream to be transformed into cute kitchen curtains, for example.

“The collection is really fun and fresh – a little retro,” Hertel said.

In addition to pillows and curtains, here are some other ideas for bringing fresh fabrics into your home:

• Invest in some ready-made table linens, especially in a spring-themed pattern such as birds or florals.

• Replace seat covers on kitchen or dining chairs. If you’re handy with a staple gun, you can do it yourself.

• Cut fabric into a square or rectangle and place it over the top of dresser, side table or buffet. You can “hem” the fabric with iron-on tape.

• Use a fabric-covered screen to define spaces or create privacy in an open-floor plan.

• Attach fabric to the backs of bookcases or china cabinets to brighten things up.

• Start thinking about new covers for the patio and porch furniture, Hertel said. Porch curtains are a fun way to go, too. Today’s outdoor fabrics come in bold colors and fresh patterns – and can be used indoors as well.

• Use fabric as wall art. Find a fabric you love and wrap it tightly over the stretch bars used by artists and staple it at the back. It can be one large piece or several smaller ones grouped together.

• Pick one comfortable chair to recover. The cover of the January issue of Better Homes and Gardens shows a chair dressed in a lively pink, orange and green fabric and pulled up to a white Parsons table used as a desk in a small office nook.

The cheerful pattern will brighten even bill-paying days.