When the outside world is ablaze with color, when nature’s textures catch the eye at every turn, and when the outdoor temperature starts to dip, it’s the right time to layer the warmth and comfort of tapestries and needlepoint into your home’s décor.
Tapestries and other textiles with elaborate needlework have been used to keep out drafts and warm up homes—okay, castles—since the middle Ages. During the Renaissance, large looms were built so that teams of highly skilled weavers could hand-make fabric as rich and evocative as paintings for the walls of the wealthy. Weaving tapestries is a revered art form that endures to this day.
Soft Surroundings has a host of beautiful tapestries and needlepoint pieces to cozy-up your castle this season. From bedding to throw pillows, the colors, textures, design and exquisite Flemish-style quality of our selection will make choosing difficult. But whichever you pick, you’ll be following in the creative footsteps of aristocracy.
Breathtakingly regal, the Ariya Coverlet and Bed Shams make your bed an instant focal point, as it should be. The black background is deep and rich, uncommon and opulent. Soft cotton threads of muted beige, blue and burgundy are woven into elegant medallions, graceful florals, and sweeping borders. The quality of the weaving is so fine it has a painterly touch. Paired with blissfully soft bamboo sheets and a shimmering silk Provencal bedskirt, the varied layers and textures are irresistible.
Our Arboretum tapestry is set against a black ground like the Ariya, but it has an exotic, garden of Eden personality, with flowering trees, climbing vines and deep violet, soft lavender and green tones. It’s crafted of a wool blend in the classic Flemish style, with mitered corners. We love it with our frayed-edge Heritage Bedskirt because the contrast of textures and finish is so attractive.
Highly skilled artisans formed guilds to create gorgeous embroidered pieces in the Middle Ages too. Even today, needlework aficionados claim embroidery offers more artistic freedom than tapestry because the needle and thread are not restricted by the geometric warp and weft of the loom. Designs can be linear or expressed in flowing curves and eloquent shapes.
The design of our Mirabai Bed Throw and Sham is a tribute to the creative freedom of embroidery. Every inch of this ensemble is hand crafted, down to the hand-twisted and tied fringe at the top and bottom of the throw. But the best part is the collection of star-shaped flowers hand-worked with heavily textured yarns in turquoise and magenta. They dance across the soft woven poly blend fabric that feels as soft as a light wool challis.
By the close of the 15th century in Europe, a type of tapestry called mille-fleur was popular. It referred the weaving of virtually thousands of tiny flowers and plants into the background and borders of tapestry scenes. The French town of Aubusson is well known for creating these and other beautiful tapestry designs thanks to highly skilled French and Flemish weavers.
Soft Surroundings has several tapestries influenced by the Aubusson style. Our Aubusson Coverlet is woven of the finest chenille using interlocking cotton threads of camel, gold, rose and sage to create a classic floral pattern on neutral ground. The design literally frames the beauty of your bed, with sweeping roses set in a garland around the border and circular medallions at each corner. Pull out the sage and rose colors in this tapestry by pairing the collection with our Silk Provencal Bedskirt and ruched shams.
This stunner is wildly popular with our customers for many reasons. It is finely crafted in Belgium of pure cotton so it is heavenly soft and authentically made. Its design reminds us of the days of Marie Antoinette and her restful retreats to her country getaway, the Petit Trianon. Weaving light pinks, greens and neutrals into a border print of fluffy antique roses, Florentine scrolls and classic fleur di lis, this coverlet has stately feminine grace. Mas La Barque is the ideal tapestry to create an escape fit for a queen in your bedroom or guest room.
Our penchant for tapestries extends beyond bedding, of course, and that’s why when we saw this well-preserved antique Aubusson tapestry during our travels through France’s flea markets, we had to bring it home. We estimate it was woven in the early 1900s. It depicts a Renaissance garden party with three women and two men reclining at the water’s edge. The scene is surrounded with a lovely ribbon and flower border. This vintage piece stretches more than 7′ horizontally and over 3′ vertically, making it a perfect object to mount above a headboard or over a sideboard.
Toss In Some Pillows
Whether you choose tapestry style or needlepoint, toss a little character into the decorating mix with a few of our gorgeous pillows. The Hydrangea and L’Oiseau Aubusson Pillows bring richness and texture to neutral linen sofas and chairs in any room. Our Chickadee Needlepoint Pillow has a sweet personality and cozy, natural vibe. We love the whimsy of this fluffy little bird and the two-tone twisted cord edging.
Yes, there are a multitude of reasons why tapestries and needlepoint have appealed to people for centuries and counting. It’s not just the exquisite beauty; the durability, comfort and natural expressiveness of this art form make it a great way to warm up your autumnal and winter home.