Friday, July 5

Nest by Tamara's Friday WHY IN DESIGN column: The beauty and craftmanship of Matelasse and a well-made bed

little girl's bedroom I designed:  
twin beds for sleepovers
with matelasse, vintage fabric, Manuel Canovas and Yves Delorme bed linens

Friday's WHY IN DESIGN -- 
Let's talk about the components 
of a well-made bed...

simple but gorgeous beds via pinterest
cane matelasse from Horchow
diamond matelasse from Sferra 
 Matelasse was originally made in Marseilles, France in the 1800s
I love Matelasse
creamy, heavy, beautifully crafted, usually white or ecru 
and divine!
Ever since I was a little girl I have loved Matelasse.  
Each year we pulled out the Matelasse covers from my mother's heavy cedar chest to don our winter beds, but come the warmer months of summer we  changed them out for lighter weight pique or poplin coverlets.  That change reminds me of summer.  But today I cannot part all summer long with my Matelasse covers (besides I like it chilly with the air conditioning on and heavy blankets on the bed) so let's first begin with talking about setting a bed.  There is something extra luxurious about setting a bed with layers.  I'm not a big fan of  heavy down comforters on top of a bed, but instead, I like a bottom and top sheet, a light woven cotton blanket on top of the sheets, then a thick matelasse cover.  In winter I will fold a down comforter at the end of the bed.  For summer, I'll put the pique bedding on top of the woven blanket (which is really on the heaviness of a sheet), and fold my Matelasse at the end of the bed and put the down comforter away in a trunk for colder days -- the heavy Matelasse is perfect for a chilly summer night.  

Next, I love to load lots of pillows on a bed, and usually two rows of bed pillows - two per person and large European pillows in front of the bed pillows to keep a fresh look once the pillowcases get a little rumpled.  Sometimes I'll put a couple of decorative 12" square pillows in front for good measure, and because I love a luxurious bed.  Let's speak about setting the bed too, and I'm a fan of the "tuck".  I like all the sheets, the blanket and the bed cover neatly tucked under the mattress for a tailored look. 

a beautiful bed and space created by designer Miles Redd
and he likes the "tuck" as well!

What is Matelasse?
"Matelassé (mat-la-SAY) is a weaving or stitching technique yielding a pattern that appears quilted or padded. [1] Matelassé may be achieved by hand, on a jacquard loom, or a quilting machine. It is meant to mimic the style of hand-stitched quilts made in MarseillesFrance. It is a heavy, thick textile that appears to be padded, but actually has nopadding within the fabric." WIKIPEDIA

Hermes-orange bedroom I designed for my equestrian daughter
twin beds with matelasse coverlets, Ralph Lauren linens and Clarence House fabric 

a sophisticated country guest quarters 
with two double beds by interior designer Brad Ford

Matelasse is a double woven fabric (usually cotton) resulting in a thick fabric that has a pattern woven into it, sometimes a floral or maybe a geometric pattern, but the end result is thick, beautiful and a very durable product.  The heavy Matelasse originally made in Marseille, France are gorgeous.  I have picked up beautiful French ones and used them as tablecloths.  But, to me, there is nothing like a bed finished off with a a thick matelasse coverlet. Of course in the older days, it was a luxury to find one. The word in French means quilted or padded. It can be made by hand, on a dobby or jacquard loom while using heavy yarns, and integrating  patterns, it sometimes feels as if it has filler or padding inside but it does not. A well-made matelasse gets better with time, seeming to patina very nicely and the quality stands the test of time and wear.

lovely row of twin beds with matelasse covers by interior designer Kathy Kincaid
and illustrating the value of a well-made bed

The History of Matelasse is long.  To me, the craftsmanship of products we choose for our homes is important.  From hand carving wood to elaborate creations of textiles, our homes are laden with the talents and hard work of artisans and craftsman.  Even with modern day conveniences and less expensive products on the market, I hope to keep the importance of including good quality products in the home.  I know everything we buy is more accessible now and a quick ride to Target or Kmart can produce some wonderful, bargain items.  That is the value of modern day convenience, and we all love it.  But, to me, I try to opt out of the "throw away" home design items and accessories, like the ever-popular Mylar plates and plastic forks and knives.  Yes it may be a little more convenient, but quality stands the test of time.  It's lovely to eat off of real pottery, and sip out of a glass or ceramic mug, not paper or plastic.  And, let's keep the bed linens the highest quality too, with high thread counts and only cotton, please.  They do last longer and I have had my Matelasse coverlet for 25 years - yup, that's a long time but it was handed down to me by my mom and it is French and gorgeous and wears better with time and it was hand made!
an Antique Matelasse circa 1880
Four ways to use Matelasse in your home...

1.  As a nice finish on top of a bed, tucked in tightly with a pretty patterned bed skirt and colorful or textured sheets.  The creamy, white Matelasse is classic, luxurious and rich!
2. Set a beautiful dinner table with a Matelasse cover for a holiday dinner, perhaps? The richness of the fabric and set against gorgeous dishes and tabletop accessories sets a very nice backdrop. Awhile back I picked up a Matelasse cover and use it each year on my Thanksgiving dinner table.  

my dining room table set with a Queen-size Matelasse coverlet
I bought specifically for my holiday dinner
3. Matelasse fabrics can be made into beautiful shower curtains, and to get even more elaborate with details my favorite is to monogram the shower curtain with an alternating color.  I made a matelasse shower curtain in a simple diamond pattern for a client's guest bedroom in their beach house, and added "BE OUR GUEST" as the monogram for a fun, playful touch.  
4.  Throw pillows finished off in a knife pleat edge, no trim but maybe a shell accent or button accent in the center to detail a bed, day bed or small sofa in a bedroom.

Charlotte Moss's beautifully designed bed right in the center of the room
2006 Kips Bay Show house

something about a white coverlet, with trim or a monogram, it feels luxurious on a bed
these two images courtesy of southshoreblog

love these precious and well appointed pair of twin beds

Happy Nesting XO