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I’m Dreaming of a Neon Christmas: Fearless Fabric Compositions for Upholstery

anthropologie moresque retro chairs - ottoman textile design

It’s Christmas morning, 1960-something.

christmas tree - quilted fiber art by carla pyle

I created this quilted piece from a sari scrap that reminded me of my childhood family’s christmas tree

I am 5 years old (my best guess – I can’t remember exactly). My slippered feet are all over the place with restless excitement as I wait with my two sisters by the big yellow brick chimney that serves as a wall between the landing and the living room. FINALLY. Our pajama-clad parents make their way (oh, so slowly!) down the hallway and give us the okay to fetch our bulging stockings from their hooks above the fire place.

Tradition.

Christmas morning tradition in our family began with stockings, then we were allowed to open one gift before a delicious breakfast of eggs Benedict. My early morning gift that year was neatly wrapped in jolly snowmen and fir trees, and it was HEAVY. As I stripped back the paper, I gasped with delight at the shiny new box of 64 Crayola crayons (with a built-in sharpener)! All new and perfectly pointy. After breakfast came the coloring book and the pad of creamy white paper, which I soon had scribbled all over in delight. The Sky Blue was first to be worn to a rounded nub – my favorite color.

1958 vintage crayola crayons-64 ct with built-in sharpener

A child’s dream-come-true – BIG box of crayons

Sky Blue to Chartreuse…

Now, hundreds of crayons later, I’m more of a Chartreuse girl, though I’m getting much more fluid about my color choices. I’ve noticed that most of my upholstery students and customers choose neutral or ‘safe’ colors for their furniture – a choice I totally respect. My own living room is pretty toned down, with sage green, burgundy and a touch of turquoise.

… and the Leap to Neon

But there’s a part of me that just wants to bust out and upholster something in neon green and hot pink! (Shawna Robinson Happy Chairs)

happy neon green / hot pink upholstery

‘Make Mine a Manhattan’ chairs by Shawna Robinson in hot pink & neon green upholstery

Six Radiant Fabric Compositions

So in honor of the season and a tip o’ the hat to the wild side in all of us, I’ve gathered a few examples of what some of our more daring upholstery artists, designers and DIYers have accomplished with color. Some of these color combinations would make perfect gift wrap!

Like this Roche Bobois sectional sofa reminiscent of a collection of radiantly colored box cushions thrown together:

roche bobois mah jong modular sofa - hans hopfer design

Bold, innovative design by Hans Hopfer for Roche Bobois – the Mah Jong modular sofa

Or a brightly cushioned back yard bench to curl up in the shade and just breathe in the scents of summer (Harold Leidner Landscape Architects):

design a garden retreat - navy cushions with bright yellow piping - haroldleidnerlandscapearchitects

Inviting garden retreat by Harold Leidner Landscape Architects: navy cushions with bright yellow piping

Enjoy a good read in a sunny window seat (image from Better Homes & Gardens):

how to decorate a windowseat - bright colorful large print floral fabric - bhg

A large scale botanic print cushion lends itself well to self-welting (same fabric used for cushion & piping)

Satisfy your quirky side with an odd mix of cushion sizes and colors (Sarah Phipps Design):

quirky orange sofa - multi colored butons -patchwork cushion - sarahphippsdesign

Multicolored buttons and an odd-sized patchwork cushion bestow an unconventional air to this orange couch

Go tribal with a turkish rug look on your upholstery (anthropologie):

anthropologie moresque retro chairs - ottoman textile design

Anthropologie’s Moresque Retro chairs – ottoman textile design

Get Arty with a mix of solids & prints, contrasting welt, and a unique botanical print (Wild Chairy – Andrea Mihalik):

unique upholstery design idea - organic design - andrea mihalik

Andrea Mihalik’s Grayson Chair – before & after reupholstery

Ready for more bold, sublime and daring ideas? Check out Upholstery Arts’ Patterns for Upholstery Design on Pinterest.

Take an online course to learn how to build a unique and stylish boxed and corded cushion that fits your personal style. Sign up for Bodacious Box Cushions! A Creative eCourse with Carla Pyle.

About the Author

CarlaHey there! I'm Carla Pyle. I love the stories that our furniture tells. For me a picture of my Granddaddy Milton's green upholstered arm chair brings to mind the vivid rhymes & colors of 'The Cat in the Hat' and his soft low voice in the telling. I love too that there is always an element of nature in furniture - the warm-toned curving grain of a walnut leg or the reflection of life in a mid-century chrome piece. The best part of teaching & sharing natural upholstery is that it ties all of these things together. Stories - of individual experience and of the planet - help us build happy & healthy homes.View all posts by Carla →

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