A Splash of Vibrant Color: Fashionable Textiles For the Home

A versatile textile breaks the mold and offers bright and fun colors for home décor. Striking the balance between function and design when decorating your home can be a difficult task, and finding fabrics that are durable as well as appealing to the eye can be particularly challenging. For Granite Staters this may no longer be such a time-consuming hassle thanks to Bridget Bleckmann's Penumbra Textile.Since she got her start back in 2004, Bleckmann has produced more than 75 exquisite, but still fun, textiles that she uses to furnish lampshades, duvet covers, quilts, pillows, curtains, cushions and more. With her design studio in Rollinsford and the textile mill in Pittsfield, her products are all N.H.-made. After three years and nine collections in an exclusive arrangement with Barneys New York, her designs are now available through other retailers. Bleckmann's textiles are jacquard woven and are influenced mainly by nature and architecture.Reef, one of Bleckmann's designs, consists of patterns and colors inspired by life in the sea. On one of her Reef fabrics, big, coral-colored crabs are the focal point, while on another, variations of aquatic plants are repeated in a pattern.Should you want to choose exactly what you've been dreaming up, Bleckmann also offers custom work.Renee Carman, owner of Mandeville Canyon Designs, has used Bleckmann's fabrics in her creations and has loved every aspect."We did a 10,000-square-foot clubhouse and she did almost all the fabrics for that, from lampshades to drapes to pillows," says Carman. "She was great about custom designs."Since Bleckmann's company caters to many New Englanders, Penumbra Textile does have typical New England designs and warm colors such as reds, golds and creams, but most of Bleckmann's palettes consists of vibrant patterns and colors such as teal, coral and yellow-green, which she says New Englanders seem to be gravitating toward nowadays."I really feel like there's a change in people designing their homes," Bleckmann says. "People are going for much brighter fabrics and they're looking for something that's appealing and happy, I think."Bleckmann believes that one of the reasons why New Englanders are increasingly attracted to brighter colors and intricate patterns is travel and the fact that some Granite Staters split their time between winter and summer homes."A lot of people have houses down south and in Florida, and it's nice to come back home and still feel warm and sunny," she says.Exciting color is not the only selling point of her textiles. Bleckmann creates her fabrics to be functional as well as beautiful.All of the fabrics created at Penumbra Textile are machine washable, which is great for families with children or pets. It is not recommended that the fabrics be put in the dryer though, as it might cause the fabrics to pucker irregularly. Instead, it's recommended that you just lay the fabric on a flat surface and let it air dry."It's nice because usually beautiful patterns and designs like that end up with clients without kids because we just don't take chances with it," says Carman. "But, because you can throw these in the wash, there's a huge amount of versatility to them."Another great feature of this fabric is its durability and the quality of the fabric. Bleckmann says that, because these fabrics are used commercially as well as for residential use, they are dense and tightly woven.To test the functionality of the fabric, Carman and Bleckmann worked together in York Village at the Emerson House for the 2011 York Show House project. They put some of Bleckmann's textiles out on display for people to see and test out."There were 200 people that would use the fabrics every day and that speaks volumes because we could use it in a residential setting but we could also have 200 people a day cuddle her pillows," explains Carman.Bleckmann also presented her products in the "outdoor terrace" space at Emerson House. According to Bleckmann, her fabrics were on display outside for a month getting rained on and saw plenty of sunlight but showed no sign of fading or deterioration.Encouraged by her success outside, Bleckmann decided her next project will be working with yacht designers so that her textiles can be brought to the sea."I'm always looking to see what's the next thing, what's the next step," says Bleckmann. NH
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