Today, customers look to transform their bedrooms into a sanctuary, a peaceful haven where they can retreat from the outside world to rejuvenate their mind, body and soul.
However, the wrong fabric can quickly take your design project in the opposite direction, stealing away precious hours of slumber and leaving your clients with buyers’ remorse.
The quality of bedding, draperies and other fabrics in the bedroom space can greatly impact a person’s quality of sleep. The fabric you choose for your client’s design can also improve the overall appearance of a bedroom, transforming it into an inviting and relaxing space.
That’s why many designers turn to natural linens to create a sleeping oasis for their clients. But which natural fabrics set the right tone for your space, and what considerations should you keep in mind when designing a space with natural linens?
Natural Fabrics In The Bedroom: All Equal?
Natural fibers come from naturally-occurring plants and animals. Some of the most popular examples of natural fibers include cotton, bamboo, wool and linen.
Overall, natural materials are more environmentally-friendly than synthetic fabrics like polyester and rayon. They also tend to last longer and decay naturally when disposed of in landfills.
However, natural materials can come at a cost. Let’s take a look at some popular natural fabrics in the bedroom and how they stack up.
Bamboo is a trendy choice today for bedding, thanks to the material’s soft feel, breathable matrix, hypoallergenic features and durability. Bamboo also doesn’t absorb natural oils from the skin, preventing discoloration on the sheets.
While bamboo is in high demand, that demand has led to massive deforestation in China to meet this interest. Destroying forests then leads to the disturbance and destruction of biodiversity.
Wool is often used to manufacture mattresses, but this textile can also be used to create other bedding products like mattress pads, pillows, comforters, throws and blankets. Wool offers several benefits in the bedroom, including temperature regulating properties, resistance to dust mites and wrinkles, its ability to repel moisture, and hypoallergenic features.
However, a Center for Biological Diversity study found that the climate cost of sheep’s wool is five times greater than conventionally-grown cotton. According to the study, wool uses 367 times more land per bale than cotton. This type of natural fabric also requires intensive chemicals during the cleaning process, leading to waterway pollution from runoff.
Cotton is one of the most popular natural fabrics in the bedroom, especially in bedding. This natural fabric is known for its breathability, hypoallergenic features and soft feel. In particular, Egyptian cotton is highly sought after for its extra-long fibers that create soft fabric.
In addition to bedding, cotton is often used in the bedroom for products like pillows, window draperies, runners and rugs.
One of the major downsides of using cotton is that pesticides and fertilizers are often used in the growth of cotton in fields. Because cotton is one of the largest non-food crops globally, its impact on soil is significant. In fact, although cotton is grown on 2.5% of agricultural land, cotton consumes more than 16% of all insecticides and 6.8% of all herbicides, according to TheWorldCounts, which gathers data about consumer habits and their impact on the environment.
Linen has earned a reputation as being a luxurious fabric that is in high demand. The fabric’s strength, durability and breathability make it a favorite for a variety of uses, from window treatments to bedding.
Linen is one of the most environmentally-friendly fabrics available because flax plants undergo an extremely sustainable growing process. Because very little water is required to grow flax, farmers do not need to irrigate or fertilize during this process. Flax also typically requires little to no pesticides, herbicides or fungicides.
Every part of the plant is used, even the seeds that can be used to produce oil or flax seeds for consumption. Because linen is extremely durable, it enjoys a longer lifespan. When discarded, linen is also biodegradable, ensuring its impact on the environment is minimal.
Other benefits of linen include:
- Ease of care: Caring for linens is a fairly straightforward process. Bedding, draperies and other smaller items can often be put in the washing machine on gentle cycle, as well as the dryer on low heat. It’s important to avoid harsh detergents, place multiple colors together and high heat.
- Comfort: Linen gets softer with each use.
- Moisture resistance: Linen can absorb dampness up to 20% without even feeling wet. It’s often hidden dampness that leads to bacterial growth, so this moisture-resistant feature keeps bedding healthier over time.
- Hypoallergenic features: Flax is naturally hypoallergenic and is considered to be a natural fiber that is friendly to a person’s skin. Because linen is hypoallergenic, it is perfect for allergy sufferers.
- Breathability: Linen allows for better regulation of your body temperature, which in turn, impacts how well an individual sleeps at night.
There aren’t many disadvantages to linen. This fabric can become wrinkly at times, but dry cleaners can press the linens to remove any creases or wrinkles. Linen fabric should not be bleached as well, since this process can make it lose its biodegradable properties.
When comparing linen to other natural fabrics, it’s clear that this textile offers many advantages and few disadvantages. Although all of the natural linens above feature similar benefits like durability and comfort, linen is perhaps the most environmentally-friendly option because of its low impact on the health of land and water, making it a great choice for clients who want to incorporate a higher level of sustainable living in their homes.
Considerations For The Perfect Sleep Sanctuary
When designing a sleep oasis, choosing the right fabric is only the first step. There are several other considerations designers must keep in mind when creating the perfect sleep sanctuary.
Incorporating serene colors like aquas, ocean blues, espresso and cactus greens can help you create a calming presence. Custom fabric dyeing offers designers the opportunity to customize sleep spaces based on colors that scientifically have been shown to make you restful, from navy blues to soft pastel pinks.
When choosing color for your natural linen, do not rely on the manufacturer’s website for color. It is better to request color linen swatches so that you are more likely to receive the exact hue you desire.
Dye lot variations are common in the textile industry, and color shifts can happen with “stock” colors. Having your own custom dye lot created can help ensure your upholstery fabric features the color you want since much more stringent controls are added so that the mill can meet the specifications. The result is repeatable and reliable with a maximum variation of 3% to 5%.
While scientific studies show that color schemes can impact the serenity of a space, they also show that the types of images we look at matters.
Studies show that fractals, which is a term used to describe “never-ending patterns,” can have a calming effect on the parasympathetic system that helps regulate emotions. Fractals are commonly found in nature, from snail shells to ferns, leaves and cacti.
When exploring your options in custom prints for bedding, pillows, wallpaper and other home bedroom decor, there are typically two types of printing services available: Rotary/flat bed printing and digital printing.
Rotary/flat bed printing is a direct-to-fabric printing technique where the image is engraved on precision cut stencils, also known as screens. Multiple screens can be used to create a multi-color design and can produce vivid colors and intricate designs on your upholstery fabric. Crisp lines and detailed images are created using screen printing, allowing inks to penetrate the fabric and hold color better and longer.
Digital printing on fabric is also known as DTG, or direct-to-garment printing. Digital printing is any ink-jet based method of printing colorants onto fabric. This process allows for lower minimums, eliminates screen charges and removes the need for screen storage. A new trend is emerging where larger designs are printed onto larger rollers so corporations can brand their company or advertise their message.
Backings that darken rooms are popular both in residential and commercial properties. Particularly in hotels, they are needed to block most or all of the light that enters through a window, ensuring great sleep. Some curtains that feature blackout backing also have noise-dampening properties, and in homes, blackout curtains can help regulate indoor temperatures.
Blackout backings are typically available in different degrees, often referred to as either 2-pass or 3-pass forms. A 2-pass quality features two layers of foam on a fabric. One is a black layer while the other is a white layer. The black layer of foam is visible on the backing. A 3-pass quality sandwiches the black layer in between two white foam layers, providing a higher degree of light blocking. You also have a 1-pass option, though this selection only dims outside light rather than block it.
If your bedroom design project includes curtains, you may want to consider protective coatings, which are an important customization in homes and businesses. Protective coatings offer protection against everyday dirt and grime.
A popular protective finish used in homes and offices is called a nano coating, a very thin transparent plastic polymer film coating that helps to repel dry particles, water, oil and dirt. Other options include Scotchgard and Alta treatments, which protect the fabric against dirt and spills.
If you have a commercial project at a hotel or resort, one of the most important customizations to consider is the fire rating. Fabrics used in public places must meet fire safety standards as outlined by the National Fire Protection Association and California law.
Fire retardant applications are often required under California law for public spaces. Fire retardant applications can be sprayed on or brushed on and help limit the spread of a fire. Rather than igniting, the fabric is protected under intense heat. Before you place any orders, check with your supplier for information on whether a fabric you are considering has a protective coating or finish.
A Comfortable, Healthy Sleep Environment
Natural fabrics provide a comfortable, breathable, beautiful and sophisticated environment, offering a healthier option for your clients. Many natural fabrics offer exceptional benefits, from hypoallergenic properties to the ability to wick away moisture and regulate temperature.
While all are more environmentally-friendly than many synthetic materials, linen is one of the most sustainable options available because of how flax is sourced. Combining this sustainable textile with a customized look for a bedroom space is sure to create a long-lasting, eco-friendly sleep oasis that will have your clients feeling refreshed and rejuvenated every morning.