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HOME DECORATING : Apparel Material Can Put Furnishings on the Best-Dressed List


Denim, linen, suede and leather. Paisleys, florals and Western prints. All are great for clothes. They're also hot decorating looks.


Michael Delgaudio of High Point, N.C., says it stands to reason that personal tastes will be similar both in apparel and home furnishings.

A stylish man may put a wild tie and patterned socks with a pin-stripe suit. That same sensibility may lead him to combine silk with suede and jute trim in living room furnishings, says Delgaudio, senior vice president and creative director for 15 Beacon Hill decorator showrooms around the country.

Certain colors, such as moss green and strong Matisse-like pastels, are equally popular in apparel and home decor, he says. Furthermore, natural fibers such as linen--wrinkles and all--are as desirable for upholstery as for apparel.

Even fit can be similar. The classic elegance of an Armani suit has its echoes in slightly loose yet superbly tailored coverings on a sofa or chair, Delgaudio says.

The companies that make up Masco Industries, parent of Beacon Hill and more than a dozen other home furnishings firms, are enthusiastic about apparel looks, says marketing executive Linda Jones.

They might range from "bomber jacket" leather to floral prints that are au courant for spring dressing. And for those who like the coziness of a quilted or chenille bathrobe, Masco is wrapping sofas and chairs in the same soft fabrics.

Western style is, if anything, even more popular in home furnishings than apparel.

Everything from the cowboy shirt and bandanna to denim jeans is being converted to home furnishings, Jones says. The company has put denim into its Lexington and Hickory Craft lines, for example.

Ralph Lauren is one of the leaders in this cross-dressing. His latest collection of fabric for the home is drawn from patterns found on women's accessories, including a teal paisley shawl, a faded pink floral scarf and a paisley chiffon scarf.

Lauren uses cotton Oxford cloth, twill, chino, chambray and classic blue and white shirting stripes on sheets. He's even used black denim for bedding accessories. He has pressed gray flannel, chalk stripes, Donegal tweed, glen plaid and various herringbones--all with a menswear sensibility--into service as upholstery fabrics.

Laura Ashley, like Ralph Lauren, is known for home fashions as well as ready-to-wear, particularly English garden florals. However, a company spokesman says the two are unalike because the decorator fabrics are larger-scale prints and solids.

Many of the latest decorating styles are pure sportswear.

"We are using a lot of bold prints, such as you would see in ladies' silk scarves," says Charlie Greene, president of Classic Gallery Group, an upholstery company in High Point.

Another style straight out of ladies' ready-to-wear is a two-fabric treatment for sofas and easy chairs: the frame upholstered in synthetic suede or leather and the cushions in woven patterns or prints.

"I've been walking through ladies' ready-to-wear departments looking for ideas for 25 years," he says.

What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

"It used to be if a look was hot in apparel, it would be hot in home decorating years later," says George DeSotle of New York, merchandising vice president for Springs over-the-counter fabrics.

"Now, many 54-inch home decorating floral prints, flame-stitch patterns and geometrics are being used in apparel."

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