Blog by Beebe Cline

<< back to article list

8 Wonderful Ways to Splurge With Silk

Silk's origins make for an enchanting history. As the story goes, a Chinese empress was sipping tea under a mulberry tree when a silkworm's cocoon fell into her cup and began to unravel into a beautiful shimmering thread. Since then the Chinese have used silk fabric for clothing, arts and decor.

The fabric has become a staple in the home for lampshades, rugs, draperies, upholstery, wallpaper, art, pillows and much more. The intensive production process makes this a treasured and expensive textile, although it has come down in price over the years. Today most silk averages $25 to $45 per yard.

See if any of these wonderful examples of silk in today's homes would work for you.
Wall coverings. Silk wall coverings add elegance to any room — and often fall into the ecofriendly category as well. Wolf Gordon's silk is antimicrobial, antibacterial and rapidly renewable, plus it has a low carbon footprint and contains recycled content.
Window treatments. The look of silk window treatments cannot be duplicated by imitation silks. To achieve the luxurious effect shown here, the draperies need to be lined with flannel. There are several reasons for lining: The draperies look better and hang fuller, with a magnificent, rich and abundant look; the lining protects the silk from the sun, making it last longer; and lining also provides a good insulation layer.

See more about drapery linings
Lighting. A silk shade gives this ceiling light a lovely glow. Pure silk shades are obviously much more expensive than synthetic ones, but they add a layer of richness.
Rugs. When silk is woven into a wool rug, its unique sheen contrasts beautifully with the wool and gives the rug a soft hand. Silk's prism-like fibers reflect light at multiple angles.
Upholstery. Historically, French bergére chairs were upholstered in silk. Silk can be delicate, so you may want to have a backing applied when using it for upholstery. Silk also stains easily, so don't use it in eating spaces or heavily used areas.
Silk velvet. Silk thread woven into velvet was once so expensive, only royalty could afford it. It is still expensive today, averaging $200 per yard. Silk velvet has a lovely soft drape and a shimmering surface. The fabric is so soft that the nap crushes easily, leaving a mark or impression — a feature that identifies the velvet as being made of silk. For this reason, never iron silk velvet, as it will crush the fibers and leave an imprint that often cannot be removed.
Art. Silk's jewel-like appearance works well for art and tapestries. Avoid hanging silk art where the sun will hit it, because it will fade. For framing silk, use museum glass to preserve the silk best.
Pillows. Silk has a luxurious, sensual feel that makes it a great fabric for pillows in the living area or bedroom. It can be washed in cold water and air dried, but it will fade, so dry cleaning is recommended. Some fabric protectant sprays will prevent soil and stain penetration, but be sure to test the spray on an inconspicuous area first.