Boucle is here and here to stay. Once seen as a luxury fabric, creating a classic yet contemporary upholstery look, it’s now entered the mainstream. Boucle sofas and armchairs used to be strictly for sophisticated interiors. They have since risen in popularity, popping up in retail stores and homes all over the country.
Don’t get me wrong, boucle is more expensive than other fabrics, but it looks and feels premium. If you’ve been following Swyft for some time, you might remember that we launched a limited boucle collection. Boucle fabric has now been introduced across our Made to Order collection, which means you can add boucle to any one of our sofa and armchair designs.
In French ‘Boucle’ is past tense for the verb ‘boucler’, which means to fasten, loop or curl. With that in mind, it’s no surprise then that boucle is famous for its looped, curly yarn that creates a textured and cosy feel. Because it’s a word derived from the French language it can be difficult to know how to pronounce it. So, let’s put it to bed once and for all. Boucle is pronounced: ‘Boo-klay’. It’s simple. Merci me later.
In this blog, we understand how to style a boucle sofa or armchair by speaking with our interior designer, Kelly Collins. Kelly talks us through how she styled a boucle sofa on one of our photo-shoots. We also look at how to protect boucle from wear and tear and assess whether it’s long-lasting. So, over to Kelly:
Why is boucle seeing a resurgence?
As we all know, boucle has been around for a while. And after seeing it everywhere at the Milan and Paris interior design shows this year, it's sticking around and is as popular as ever. Why is it popular? Because, it’s a plain fabric, almost patterned, but not. And still has an interesting texture.
Its texture creates interest, which guarantees it won’t get boring. People tend to shy away from large patterned upholstered items because they go in-and-out of fashion. And rightly so, you want your sofa to have longevity.
So, most of us use plain fabrics.
What we've seen in the past is huge popularity in velvet and linen sofas. Both have had their time in the spotlight, because they are simple: plain to look at and easy to look after. Boucle is also a plain fabric, but its inviting texture means it offers something different. Not only does it give the room interest, but it brings it to life.
How would you style a boucle armchair or sofa?
It depends what you like; a classic ivory white boucle armchair has been everywhere. Neutral colour palettes are still popular, but the difference now is that we’re seeing layers of textures added to those palettes.
Two to three years ago, it would have been difficult to find a boucle armchair or boucle sofa, but now they are in almost every retail store. The difference now though is that we’re moving away from white. Before, it was all about the ivory white boucle. But coloured boucle is going from strength to strength.
To be frank, white sofas give me anxiety. And is one of the reasons why we’ve introduced Fern into our colour palette.
So, when it comes to styling a boucle sofa or armchair, an off-white or coloured boucle is a good place to start. I know, I’ve just eaten my own words. But, now it’s about layering textured fabrics to the room. At one of our photoshoots, I paired a suede ottoman and velvet cushion with a linen throw. A real mix.
Although I've mixed textures of the fabric, I’ve actually kept the styling relatively calm. Helped by that beautiful, lovely clean white.
Pairing a white boucle sofa with a nice neutral wall is fine, but it’ll have a cold clinical feel. Some people want that, and I really love a clean interior, however, in this instance, I needed an interior which was a bit more interesting. That's why I chose an interior with darker blue walls, so you can use the sofa. It stands out.
With that in mind then, the only thing I've done is mix the fabrics in the room. The textures are all different, but it works because the colours are all calming. The jute rug is a nice earthy brown, and the suede ottoman an off-white. If the colours weren’t calming, the colour palette would be way too busy.
It’s important to remember that the colour palette used in this room set incorporates the same family. The white sofa is the only piece of furniture that doesn’t follow this rule, because I wanted it to stand out against the contrasting walls.
The blue wall is not a cold blue, but a warmer shade with undertones of yellow. So, I'm using the wall to help warm the sofa with the colours it’s been matched with in the room. That's why you pair it with a warm rug, and in this case, the wooden floorboards.
Don't go all-in mixing warm and cold colours. Make it easy for yourself by keeping strictly to the warmer tones.
Carpet, yes or no?
You’ve got to be careful. As long as it’s not the same colour and not looking like you're trying to match it. Try not to make it look too much like a sea of beige or a sea of white. If you've got a nice neutral carpet, like most people, the boucle would look amazing in there.
That being said, boucle sofas and armchairs always work well against wooden floors. My advice would be to stick to wooden floors, if you can. When a carpet is involved, usually the boucle sofa is lost. If you really can’t get rid of the carpet, a rug might help balance the room.
If I was going to replace the chest, I would make sure to bring a colour in. It doesn’t have to be a strong pop of colour. It could be a caramel, for example, which is still neutral, but it holds enough of a difference with the ivory sofa. Or it could be placed with linen. I'd probably have a lovely linen, with a colour. A velvet's fine, any composition, but I wouldn't go with something similarly coloured.
Gone are the days where we’re matching sofa and armchair fabrics. Pairing different coloured and textured sofas and armchairs is very on trend. The key is to make sure colour tones are similar, for example, in the room set, I’ve matched an off-white boucle sofa with a paprika armchair and a shade of brown armchair. All of the colours are warm in nature. This also fits with the wooden floorboards, the yellow-ish blue shade of the walls and the chest, coffee table.
The paprika and the oca armchairs are a complete contrast to the sofa. But, it makes the sofa stand out – exactly what I set out to achieve. I wanted something quite different - and it’s worked. Go for it, have fun. Mixing textures is in. As long as the colours are in the same family, palette or tone.
How do you protect a boucle sofa or armchair?
One of the mis-conceptions of boucle is that it’s not hard-wearing. That is simply not true. Due to the fabric’s twisted fibres, it’s naturally long-lasting and holds up well against everyday use. But, boucle sofas do need to be looked after. Here’s a quick guide:
- Ensure you vacuum regularly. It’s important to catch dust or debris caught in the fibres.
- Clean any spillage immediately
- Use a damp cloth, not a wet one. Too much water can make the damage worse
- Be gentle so the looped yarns aren’t pulled
- Cleaning solutions can damage the fabric, just use water. Stain still not coming out, call in the professionals
- Avoid using anything abrasive, it can pull on the yarns
- Be gentle with the fabric, especially with boucle
With Swyft’s 2-year fabric guarantee, you can be confident your boucle sofa will be looked after. But for further peace of mind, you can add our Guardsman cover to the checkout to cover any accidental damage.
This teddy-like fabric isn’t showing any signs of slowing down in popularity, and for good reason. Boucle is a great fabric choice for a sofa as it combines on-trend tactile texture with soft fibres - perfect for relaxing.