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New French Fabric

November 15, 2021

One of the true joys of working with french furniture is discovering stunning new fabrics like this bird velvet – one of our most beautiful new fabrics in store. Toile which dates back to 18th century France is usually on cotton or linen but on velvet the repeated pattern is sumptuous and elegant. One can also clearly see the influence of the silk road and chinoiserie, which so beguiled the French courts of the day. All this coming together to create a rich but delicate effect, a rare combination in classical fabrics.

The tonality of this velvet is also very unique and special. The background grey tones are mottled giving an antique effect and the deep reds, greens and yellows are both vibrant and subdued. The sheen of the velvet is also more matte giving it a refined sophisticated look. On this Louis salon chair it looks charming and inviting.

Christophe has also taken care to create a stunning custom finish and contrast pipping in the upholstery that embellishes the fabric perfectly.

Discover his philosophy behind the upholstery & finish below…

The Pipping & Painted Trim 

Contrast pipping and trim are great ways to enhance furniture and fabric. In this chair, Christophe added two rows of cream velvet piping around each upholstery section to reflect the creams in the fabric and to highlight the beautiful three panel shapes in the chair design. Surrounding this, he painted the moldings of the chair in a deep red to capture the reds in the fabric and create a second border.

In this way, both pipping and paint finish work together harmoniously to accentuate the graceful lines and curves of the chair, capture the tones of the fabric and most of all, frame the fabric – since it is the true centrepiece.

The Gilding 

For the gold finish Christophe used Dutch gold leaf – which he applied one foil sheet at a time, brushing it on in the traditional way. To soften the gold leaf he then applied a light brown/greyish top coat especially to the recessed areas to give the gold an aged softened quality and accentuate the carving. On the flower motifs he rubbed back the gold to reveal the deep reds underneath. As a final layer he added a light cream glaze to the gold giving it a creamy quality that tied in with the fabric colours allowing the fabric and finish to integrate as one.

Custom Finishes

Just like this – Christophe prides himself on creating custom paint finishes that are authentic, unique and speciality suited to each individual piece and interior. There are so many custom finish options and Christophe always loves advising clients on the finishes that would best suit their furniture piece taking into account the fabric and decor.

Jean-Christophe still does many of the finishes by hand and can sometimes be seen through the windows of the Double Bay store gilding into the night.

Touches of Gold 

When incorporating Gilding into a furniture piece, there are many options other than fully gilding. For example, it is lovely to just add touches of gold on parts of the carved details as was done with this children’s french armchair.

Tips for Finishes & Fabric Selection 

  • Use contrast pipping for unique looks
  • Add contrast paint trim for modern looks
  • Enjoy experimenting
  • Add subtle touches of gold to carving details
  • Upholster one chair with beautiful fabric as a stand out piece
  • Choose quality velvets with a subtle sheen
  • Use antiquing glazing to soften and add depth

We hope you enjoyed discovering this new fabric and Christophe’s design decisions behind the lovely chair.

Feel free to pop into our Double Bay showroom to view the velvet chair and see our gilding workshop.

Find out more 



Jean-Christophe Burckhardt

Jean-Christophe Burckhardt

An expert on interior design, craftsmanship and fine arts, Jean-Christophe has trained extensively in Italy, France and Switzerland. Since moving to Australia, he has supplied many of the country’s grand homes and collected a number of awards for his furniture designs.