Part Three:  How to Use Damask and Not Look Like Downton Abbey 

Damask is one of the most regal and romantic fabrics in a decorator’s arsenal.  If a client is painfully traditional, you can pull out a damask for a room and know that she will light up like a firecracker.  Originally from the historic city of Damascus, a large trading city on the old silk road, damask was originally woven with silk threads only.  Today, damask refers to any monochromatic fabric that contrasts matte and sheen surfaces to create a luxurious texture.  This Comeback kid can now be created using printed inks on fabrics, historic woven techniques or burn out impressions on velvets and sheers. 

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Embroidered Pillows

Damasks, as I stated before, are the most traditional and luxurious of fabrics.  In a time of more casual interiors, damasks have faded from popularity in the last decade, but more and more fabric houses are debuting new and historic looking damasks for me to use.  For years, when collecting samples for my resource library, I would have to order my assistant before every trunk show, “Do not be seduced by damasks,” because my shelves were over-run by them.  And, I was using them less and less, so I didn’t need them as often.  But they have made a cunning comeback. 

How should you be incorporating damasks into your design projects and rooms so that they feel fresh as Lady Rose, not stodgy throw-back like the Dowager Duchess?  Read on. 

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This bright cheery sitting area has a neutral damask that gives it an updated feel while remaining traditional in style.


In order to keep the damask looking fresh, weavers are translating traditional damask patterns into embroidered textiles.  Embroideries are super popular, due in part to the luxurious, hand-made qualities, and also for the texture.  Embroidery, even though it’s expensive to do, gives a casual elegance to a room.  It can feel home-spun, or just more relaxed in nature, than a finely woven damask.  Some textile companies have incorporated beads of crystal or wood to even give it more interest. 

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Embroidered Damask makes a gorgeous statement on these host and hostess chairs.

Open to Interpretation  

Damask wallpaper is more popular than ever in quieter colors and subtle patterns.  Keeping damask wallpaper looking new and fresh can be tricky if you don’t pick the right scale and pattern.  I find the more complicated the pattern, the more dowdy it looks.  So, try to keep a more open pattern.  Metallic ink can also make the pattern more interesting, changing the luster as you walk around the room.  This play of light gives a dynamic appearance to rooms and creates a more interesting look. 

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Subtle metallic ink creates a damask pattern that is only visible from certain angles on this dining room wallcovering.

 Keep it simple 

 One of my favorite ways to use damask is in small doses, like on a pillow in a living room or as the main fabric on the host chairs in a dining room.  This subtle injection of pattern gives the richness of damask, without it overwhelming a room and making it feel like a museum, or worse, your grandma’s house (unless your grandma was Nancy Lancaster).  For a decorator who loves to layer patterns, the toss appearance of a block style damask pairs well with an arabesque style floral print.  A damask in a small or large scale can complement the busyness of a floral while giving more interest than a geometric, like a stripe or check. 

Beaded Damask Toss Pillow, a Comeback Kid, for Nashville interior design call Eric Ross Interiors, top interior designer in Nashville, TN.

The Beaded Damask Toss Pillow in this wing chair adds another great texture to this vignette.

 With so many options for damasks, I’m sure you can find one that will suit one of your rooms.  Try to find a way to incorporate this new/old trend in your interiors.  I know you will like the result.  

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This Damask Side Chair is the perfect counterbalance to the floral chintz of the bed skirt and window Treatments.


Follow along on my Instagram account to see more clever ways to incorporate the Comeback Kids into your decor!