The trends, the designs and inspiring ways to use fabric in your backyard
Story: Rachel Belshaw
With the outdoor room now such a strong presence in many Australian backyards, it’s little wonder fabric is emerging and featuring as an outdoor accessory. Fabrics have evolved from simply being used as plastic chair cushions for outdoor dining settings to now being used in many applications such as for daybeds, lounges, chaises, cushions, curtains and even wall art. Yes, even the decorative cushion has made its way to the great outdoors.
According to Rick Brown, who has been the managing director of Macro Fabrics Pty Ltd for 15 years, it’s important to take in the whole picture when selecting fabrics for your outdoor area. “As a design element, people should consider what colours will complement their area. Consider fabrics in adjoining rooms, as well as flower colours and pool tiles,” he says.
While Rick says that there aren’t any particular colours that are prone to fading, consider a fabric that is 100 per cent solution-dyed acrylic. These, he says, are the best choice to withstand weather, UV rays and mould. Rick also points out that anyone looking for an outdoor fabric should avoid natural fibres to ensure the best longevity of their product.
With so many ways to decorate the backyard using fabric, the trends are sure to evolve with the seasons, just as interior design trends change. This, along with the many fabric design companies and outdoor furniture specialists in the market, means your outdoor room can be co-ordinated to complement your home’s interior as much or as little as you like.
At the moment, explains Rick, design trends are leaning toward “bright stripes, both regular and irregular, matched back with their bright plains.” In the near future? “Again, bright to bring extra colour to the garden. Black, brown and natural colours are also really making a move in the industry.”
Deborah Sommers, designer and founder of d.Garden collection of outdoor wallpaper and art decor says current design trends are focused on complementing indoors to make a seamless transition between the two.
“I think that everything we’re seeing for outdoors has become practically indistinguishable from what we see indoors — the same trends apply. We can now make the same design choices for our outdoor rooms/gardens that we make for indoors. Our personal style choices are no longer limited to our interiors,” she says. “At the moment, I am working on a line of black-and-white patterns, which, in fact, look very much like traditional wallpaper patterns and make a great contrast with very modern furniture.”
Deborah believes that the future of fabric design lies with the technologies — particularly their weather tolerance.
Deborah agrees with Rick that the fabric chosen to be used as a feature or artwork needs to complement existing elements of the backyard and be encompassed as a piece of the whole. This way, it can create a real focal point in the backyard or outdoor room environment.
“The fabric hanging should complement your choice of planters, furniture and plantings,” she says. “It can bring together all these elements. You may want the piece to stand out like a bold painting or be a subtle background to an eye-catching pot or planting. Look at the area where the hanging will go — what is around that wall now? Will the fabric be used to hide something (such as a crumbly wall or shed) or to highlight something?
“Outdoor cushions, of course, are also the ideal accessory for spicing up a piece of furniture,” adds Deborah.
Fabric as art can be as seasonal as you like. It can be changed to freshen up a space should you need a new look while wall hangings are a great way to update an entire look without the hassle of redoing the gardens or investing in new furniture.