Comfort zone: A bouclé and rattan chair, £695 (oliverbonas.com)
Fashion in clothing is one of the key influences for the way we dress our homes.
The process is usually rapid, with a trend making the transition into décor within a season, as has happened this year with 1970s chic.
But bouclé — which was invented in the 19th century and popularised by Coco Chanel in the 1930s — is only now stepping into the limelight.
This fabric’s name derives from the French boucle (curled) — and it’s racing up the decor style charts, thanks to a new appreciation of its qualities, principally its teddy-bear like feel.
Bouclé is woven from yarn made up of looped fibres of either acrylic, cotton, linen, silk or wool. This gives it an uneven ‘nubby’ appearance, akin to tweed but much softer.
This texture is the reason Chanel chose bouclé for her iconic cardigan-like jacket that was easy to wear, unlike the restricting garments of the era.
The jacket stays in the collection today, even as big names in homeware introduce sofas and chairs with bouclé upholstery.
Now at the Heal’s store in London’s Tottenham Court Road, one of the first pieces that you see is the inviting Nuvola sofa covered in an off-white bouclé (heals.com).
This sofa, which is all curves and no sharp edges, takes its name from nuvoloso, the Italian for cloudy, and it is the rise of this style of reassuring and sink-into seating that is boosting the ascent of bouclé.
Its pleasingly reassuring quality led to the creation of the most celebrated item of bouclé furniture: the Womb chair made in 1948 by Eero Saarinen, the Finnish-American architect for the designer and architect Florence Knoll Bassett.
This bouclé upholstered bucket chair, in which sitting down is likened to lowering yourself into ‘a basket of pillows’, is on sale today at a price of about £1,500.
Such is the ease promised by bouclé that it rivals the appeal of velvet, which was until recently the upholstery favourite.
Helena Davies, head of buying at Barker and Stonehouse, says: ‘We’ve seen a sharp increase in consumers searching for bouclé upholstery, with a 258 per cent jump since the start of the year in comparison with other more classic options like velvet.’
Barker and Stonehouse’s bouclé sofas include the Lenor (£1,599) whose padded design is influenced by stratocumulus clouds (barkerandstonehouse.co.uk).
The Lenor comes in ivory. While bouclé is available in many shades, creams and beiges are surprisingly popular because advances in textile technology have made these tones far more practical than before.
Nicky Line, chief product officer at Loaf bed and sofa group, says: ‘We’re launching our Wobbly Cotton bouclé range in August — it will be a brilliant way for our customers to introduce texture into the home.
‘We’ve made it ‘clever’, so it’s spill-resistant and family-friendly as possible.’ Line argues that bouclé’s blend of what she calls ‘texture, tactility and touch’ embodies the touchy-feely qualities that people want now.
A bouclé sofa is a sizeable investment in this trend, but such is the demand for the fabric that homeware retailers are providing a large range of items in the fabric.
An accent chair will add a contemporary touch to a traditional country-type interior, while softening industrial chic furniture which can now seem a little too edgy.
Habitat has the £160 Cole chair (habitat.co.uk), while John Lewis offers the Anyday Dime Accent chair (£349) in light wood. This is inspired by the seating of the Art Deco period, another key trend of 2023 (johnlewis.com).
If you suspect that even stain-resistant bouclé would not survive in your household, Dunelm’s Kit accent chair in dark grey bouclé has been reduced by 50 per cent to £99 (dunelm.com).
At Dusk, you will find bouclé cushion covers in black and off-white starting at £8 for the 30cm by 50cm size (dusk.com). B&M has bouclé cushions at £12 for two (bmstores.co.uk). Swoon has the £239 Billie midcentury-style bouclé footstool (swoon.com).
The warm response to bouclé has been seen as proof of a longing for the cosy, which means that more sheepskin pieces, either real or faux, will be appearing in the shops.
If a sheepskin throw gives any chair a more relaxing feel, then what could be more laid-back than a sheepskin chair.
During the spring decor shows, one of the standout items was Eikund’s Fluffy lounge chair with sloping wooden armrests and upholstered with shaggy black or white sheepskin.
Would such a chair sit well alongside a bouclé sofa? Yes, because this year your sitting room is, first and foremost, an ultra-comfort zone.