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How do I Choose the Best Upholstery Trim?

Susan Grindstaff
Susan Grindstaff

Choosing the right upholstery trim can often change an ordinary piece of furniture into a showpiece. There are many different ways to use upholstery trim, and most fabric retailers offer a wide variety of trims from which to make your selection. Probably the most important thing to consider when selecting your trim is that you want it to accent the piece of furniture rather than overwhelm it. In addition, you should decide if you are going to attach the trim yourself or hire a professional. If you plan to do it yourself, and have no prior experience, you should probably choose trim that is simple to install.

Bullion fringe is one of the most popular types of upholstery trim. It is available in many different lengths and colors. Bullion fringe is made of twisted pieces of narrow cord attached at the top with a header. The header is usually made of guimp, a type of interlaced decorative edging. It can be used with many different types of fabric, and usually works well with both formal and casual pieces of furniture.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

Brush fringe is another common type of trim and, like bullion, it is also usually topped with guimp. Brush fringe is made of very narrow hanging threads, usually made of cotton, polyester, or rayon. The fringe hangs very thick, almost looking like thick cuts of hair. It is a bit more dramatic than bullion fringe and is usually used sparingly. Brush fringe is available in many colors and is sometimes made up of two coordinating colors.

Tassel fringe is a type of upholstery trim consisting of a chain of hanging tassels. Though tassel fringe is available in most any color, the most popular colors are generally metallic earth tones of gold, copper, or bronze. Generally, tassel fringe is used to give furnishings a bohemian look, and works well with fabrics such as brocade and damask.

A simple way to enhance furnishings without using fringe is by nailing in decorative metal studs called upholstery tacks. These tacks are available in many different sizes and shapes. Some of the more popular ones are brass with rounded, cap-like tops. Another popular style offers the look of aged, distressed brass with dented, uneven edges.

Wood is also used as upholstery trim, and can be added in strips or by using single medallions. Wood medallions used for this purpose are often intricately carved pieces, and can usually be purchased already finished and stained. These pieces can be attached to furniture by narrow nails, but are more often glued directly onto the fabric.

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