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3 Interior Design Tips From Michelle Obama's White House

drapery fabrics

Michelle Obama plays many important roles -- she's the first African-American First Lady of the United States of America, she's the mother to two teenage girls, and she's personally led the charge to help children stay active and healthy. Of course, she also has another crucial responsibility.

It might not seem quite as important as hosting world leaders or fighting childhood obesity, but she also has an opportunity that makes designers green with envy. Traditionally, the First Lady has been able to leave a lasting fingerprint on the White House's interior design, and this July, the FLOTUS completed a touch-up to the White House State Dining Room, where visiting dignitaries, world leaders, and straight up royalty wine and dine with the First Family.

The dining room now features custom upholstery furniture hand-made in North Carolina. If you're looking for furniture upholstery ideas fit for the White House, then you should know that the FLOTUS went with custom fabrics with a brown grid-pattern and brass nail heads.

In addition to the new furniture for the dining room table, Michelle Obama helped select custom drapery fabrics for the First Dining Room. Mrs. Obama chose silk drapery fabrics with vertical stripes of peacock blue and ecru. Previously, the room featured drapery fabrics and curtains patterned with flowers, baskets, and ribbons. The new drapery fabrics match the "Kailua Blue" featured on the new White House china, which was meant to symbolize the blue waters of Hawaii.

Of course, when redesigning the interior of your home, you probably won't feel quite as much pressure as the First Lady, walking in the distinguished footsteps of national heroes like Elanor Roosevelt and style icons like Jackie Kennedy. But you probably don't have as much help either; the Obama's have a preservation and design team for the upkeep of the first residence.

So, for homes that don't play host to literal royalty, how can you use custom drapery fabrics, furniture reupholstering, and custom shades to update your living space?

  • Reupholstering Furniture: If you find gorgeous antique furniture at a flea market, or just want to update existing pieces, then you can use a small amount of fabric to breathe new life into a room. Most sofas only need 13 yards of fabric, while most chairs use just seven yards of fabric in furniture reupholstering.

  • Drapery Designs and Drapery Fabrics: Like the Obama's and their Hawaii blue, you can choose drapery fabrics that call to mind something personal to you. Your guests will think your new custom drapery fabrics look great, but they will also warm your heart every time you look at them.

  • Go Green: Remember, during the winter, drawing the shades can help reduce heat loss by up to 10%. And during the summer months, medium-color drapery fabrics with white backings help reduce heat gain in your home by 33% on average.