What is silk? How to use it in your home

Silk fabric has been popular for what seems like an eternity - we are exited to discuss this beautiful material in our next instalment of the 'beginner's fabric guide'. Besides, I think you would be disappointed if we didn't! A natural protein fibre that is most commonly obtained from the cocoons of the Mulberry silk worm.

Mostly admired for its unique shimmering appearance, formed by the prism like structure of its fibres - silk reflects light at different angles to produce an array of surface colour. Let us take a look in more detail at some history, its uses in interior décor and a key look to try out.

History of Silk

The history of silk production is less known than one would like to think. Us Westerners were left in the dark about its creation for thousands of years - the Chinese Empire choosing to keep the secret wrapped up in their own borders. Many objects have been discovered to imply that silk and its production existed as many as 7000 years a go! It wasn't until the 13th century that silk production finally reached Europe, in Italy to be precise.

Silk For Interior Decorators

In the last thirty or forty years, silk production has boomed worldwide, although some man-made fibres have been used in replacement of true silk. To this day, China is still the largest producer together with neighbouring Japan - the two together producing half of all silk in circulation. Good quality silk is also widely available and considered to be one of the most stunning textiles for use in home decorating. Once considered a luxury to have, silk fabric is now offered at amazingly good prices so that everyone can have some to call their own! Furthermore, the quality of faux silk has also exceeded expectations and comes at a lower cost than the real thing - with some even arguing that it has better fade qualities.

The most popular use of silk in the home is for ready made curtains but smaller accent pieces can also be created using silk such as beautiful lampshades and even wall art when the silk is used to cover pieces of art canvas.

Key looks with silk

Silk curtains are adorable in all colours, their softness and light reflective qualities bringing drama and luxury to any room. Perhaps this luxuriousness is appreciated most in dining rooms. Our key look with silk curtains is a dining room decorated with a hint of the Byzantine Empire - some white columns to hold indoor topiary, rustic black bronze candlesticks and touches of gold leaf. Start with an off-white to very light grey on the walls, leaving skirts and any moulding/woodwork in eggshell white.

As for the walls, try to get a close match for flooring - whether it means painting existing floorboards or using a large area rug. A white fireplace would look gorgeous in this design, but if you are without fireplace you could use an attractive sideboard or cabinet in its place - just make sure its painted white. An intimate round dining table in a dark polished wood brings warmth and contrasts with antique white dining chairs.

For finishing touches and accessories - a white Byzantine style column (hip high) topped with a decorative topiary, rustic black bronze candlesticks for table decoration and sculptures for the mantel. A decorative gold leaf mirror to hang above the fireplace/sideboard and of course - luxurious grey silk curtain fabric hung from the ceiling and left to pool to the floor.

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