My latest spotlight is with the wonderful, Lucinda Griffiths of Lucinda Griffiths Design, an experienced interior designer who has created stunning rooms and spaces with clients all across the UK. She calls her service a 'satnav service for decorating, with the client in the driving seat'. Lucinda made the move from London back to her home country of Wales 15 years ago and bought a tumbledown in sight of the mountain that had been the view from her childhood bedroom. She has decorated and designed this home with second hand furniture, vintage textiles, cast offs etc and I have been really inspired by her creativity and resourcefulness with the project.

How do you go about incorporating vintage textiles into your work?
Vintage textiles can be used in so many ways -  I have covered headboards, made cushions, hung them on walls and made Roman blinds out of them. You want them to belong to the room, so each piece has to be studied to see how it can contribute to the overall scheme.  Is it the centrepiece, or a ‘supporting actor’?  It can look inspired to have your sofa with loads of cushions all made from different vintage fabrics, but don’t use particularly valuable textiles for this as they will get a lot of wear. 

How best to display vintage textiles?  
Displaying antique textiles can be a tricky one… can get them framed but it is expensive, as they need to be stitched onto a fabric covered back board before being framed (looks great though).   With bigger pieces, I have sewn rings onto them and then hung them from a lightweight pole, which can work well.  The main thing is to use the fabric in a way that you will get to enjoy it, so instead of doing a headboard, perhaps hang the fabric (like a suzani) behind your bed instead.  It does come down to the value of the piece as to how ‘leftfield’ your approach is.  I like fabrics that haven’t cost a fortune, as I am definitely braver about how I might use them.

Where to start when using vintage textiles? Can they inspire a whole scheme?   
They certainly can.   There is so much colour inspiration that comes from antique textiles; not only in the palette but also the different shades. Be sure to not overwhelm the pattern of your piece if it is the focal point.  If I want a vintage textile to be at the centre of the scheme, I would take the main colours from it and perhaps introduce those colours in different finishes and textures (from paint to plain linens or wools or even velvets).   However, sometimes it can be quite a small piece that inspires a scheme just through its colour palette. It may not end up as the centrepiece, but it can start the ball rolling on what colours you might put together in the room.

Unique creative ways of working with vintage textiles?   
If you have fragments of antique textiles, consider sewing them onto a plain backcloth in an asymmetric pattern.  Use a textile like a lovely wool or an old blanket for the main curtain and you can always add more bits of fabric as you get them.  They don’t have to touch each other, nor be in a predictable pattern but the effect can be really eye catching.  The alternative is to cut and sew the textile into a curtain border or maybe enlarge a smaller piece of fabric by putting a plain backing onto it, to create a border on all four sides.

Why do you love working with vintage textiles?  
Simply because nobody else will have it, so it makes the space uniquely your own but in a far more timeless way than a modern fabric is likely to achieve.  I also like that it reflects your own style, not other peoples. I also can’t bear waste and see too much lovely fabric being chucked because people think it is not fashionable or it feels ‘old’. Try putting those floral chintz curtains your grandmother had with a fabulous wall colour and see how they look then?  I recently did that with a client who was about to throw away some blue and pink floral chintz curtains her mother had passed on to her.  Instead we used them in the drawing room with a cobalt blue sofa, strong rhubarb pink walls and a small blue and white geometric print for a roman blind behind the curtains.  She gets so many compliments on the space but never would have gone out and chosen that scheme if the fabric hadn’t been there to inspire it.    Using vintage fabrics effectively does take a dose of courage but the reward is that you get the chance to express what you love, not what other people have dictated you should love.

What would your top 3 tips be for anyone looking to start using vintage textiles?  

  1. Start by looking at the piece with a paint chart.  What colours really make it come to life and might be unexpected?  
  2. Don’t be afraid to use the scissors…if it gives the piece a new lease of life, it can be worth shaping it into a new form.
  3. Choose what you like and don’t worry if other people will like it or not.  Your style is your style – it does not have to mirror other people’s sense of style.