The Timeless Enchantment of Decorative Tapestries

For centuries, ornate tapestries adorned palaces and castles. Today these textured wall hangings are enjoying renewed popularity. Learn what makes tapestries such an alluring and versatile decor choice as we explore their history, styles, and creative ways to hang them in your home…

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For centuries, decorative tapestries have adorned the walls of castles, palaces, churches, and homes across Europe. Valued for their beauty, craftsmanship and often exorbitant cost, these sizeable woven wall hangings served decorative and functional needs.

Decorative Tapestries Guide

They provided insulation from drafts in cold stone buildings and displayed the status and wealth of their owners. Their intricate designs offered windows onto history, mythology, nature and biblical tales.

Today, decorative tapestries continue to confer beauty, comfort and a connection to the past within contemporary homes. Whether adorning a blank wall or disguising one less than perfect, tapestries lend unique character and create focal points within a room.

From richly detailed medieval-style weavings to modern abstract designs, tapestries offer style and substance that withstand the test of time.

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Decorative Tapestries Through History

Tapestries played pivotal historical and cultural roles across European societies for centuries. Considered extremely valuable, they were traded as currency, offered diplomatic gifts between rulers, provided as dowries and bequeathed in wills.

Noble households transported their tapestry collections from property to property to decorate their primary residences.

Much of what we know about medieval life in Western Europe has been gleaned from scenes vibrantly captured in tapestry form. These intricate wall hangings recorded stories, legends, customs and momentous historical events for posterity long before the advent of the printing press.

Tapestries reached the pinnacle of popularity between the 14th and 17th centuries. Wealthy patrons commissioned European tapestry workshops, like those in Brussels and Paris, to produce intricate tapestries depicting scenes from Classical mythology, the Bible, the lives of saints, battles or royal pageantry.

The famous Unicorn Tapestries created in the Southern Netherlands around 1500 feature the elusive mythical creature amid detailed flora and fauna.

Decorative tapestries in the home also indicated social status. In the Middle Ages and Renaissance, nobles and royalty wanted to be surrounded by these symbols of wealth and sophistication. Tapestries provided portable luxury that could be rolled up and transported from castle to castle to decorate cold stone walls. They showcased the refined taste and affluence of their owners.

They retained their coveted status into the 19th century as technical innovations enabled more affordable production. Now, the rising bourgeoisie could also acquire exemplary tapestries, though they remained costly.

Intricately patterned floral needlepoint and verdure tapestries were the most common middle-class decor. More intimate scenes from ordinary life also emerged, making tapestries accessible and relatable across various levels of society.

A Resurgence of Decorative Tapestry Popularity

The popularity of decorative tapestries declined in the early 20th century due to changing tastes and decorating trends. Wallpaper and other types of wall decor pushed them aside. Some critics even derided tapestries as old-fashioned or ostentatious.

Their impediment of dust and most minor favour sent many noble tapestry collections into storage.

Toward the end of the 20th century, a renewed appreciation began to bloom across the design world. These textile wall hangings offer depth, texture and cosiness that many modern homes lack. Decorative tapestries, like a beloved sweater or a cosy throw blanket, feel familiar and comforting.

Their organic textures and colours bring visual warmth to any living space.

Today, incorporating a beautiful tapestry into your home is easier than ever. You need not inhabit an English manor or chateau to find the perfect design to complement and enhance your interior decor. The growing variety makes seeing an ideal tapestry for your style and budget wonderfully achievable.

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Reasons to Decorate Your Home With Tapestries

What makes tapestries such an alluring and timeless decor choice? There are many excellent reasons to add one of these unique textiles to your living space.

Beautiful Visual Interest

Few other wall decor options can compete with a vibrant tapestry for creating captivating focal points. A tapestry’s lavish colours, compelling imagery and intricate patterns immediately draw the eye. These textiles add beautiful visual interest that you won’t find with traditional wall art or accessories.

Whether you prefer a rich, jewel-toned medieval-style hunting scene, an Impressionist floral fantasia or a Modernist abstract geo-design, a dramatic tapestry becomes the decorative highlight of any room. Their expansive scale guarantees they will make a spectacular style statement.

Cosy Textural Element

The sumptuously textured surface of tapestries adds delightful tactile contrast to smooth drywall or plaster. Touchable textures impart cosiness within a space and evoke memories through their sensory impressions. The dimensional woven surface tempts you to trace winding vines or floral swirls with your fingertips.

Natural linen or wool tapestries provide organic contrast to sleek, modern, or rustic interior finishes.

Custom Sizing Option

Getting standard framed artwork or prints to fit an oddly sized wall space often proves challenging. And who wants to settle for a piece that almost fits correctly? Custom-woven tapestries provide a welcome solution for conquering troublesome wall proportions.

Since each tapestry is individually made to order, you can create one in perfect dimensions for your wall. Specify the exact width and length ideal for your space without being limited by standard product sizes.

This flexibility lets you decorate problem wall areas that might otherwise go unused or unenhanced.

Conceal Flaws

As decorative tapestries originally served to insulate cold medieval building interiors, they also conveniently disguise imperfect existing walls. Drape your irresistible tapestry over cracked plaster, damaged drywall, or temporary institutional walls.

The gorgeous colours and patterns distract the eye to conceal imperfections. Renters can use tapestries to beautify boring apartment walls and cover undesirable colours or textures.


Tapestries are easily transportable to future homes, unlike framed art, mirrors or wallpaper. Carefully roll up your beloved tapestry when it’s time to move.

Then, hang it in your new residence and enjoy how it instantaneously recreates the look and feel of your previous space. If they hold special significance, you can even take treasured family tapestries with you.

Variety of Styles & Subjects

Decorative tapestries offer seemingly endless style possibilities thanks to today’s boundless range of available designs. Whether your taste runs traditional or modern, muted or bold, figurative or abstract, the ideal tapestry awaits you.

Floral patterns, animal motifs and intricate scrolling vines satisfy traditional tastes and bring the lushness of nature indoors. Contemporary abstract or geometrical designs introduce eye-catching graphic elegance. Photography and digital printing methods expand themes even further.

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The variety of available tapestries means you can easily find designs suited to complement your existing decor. Keep scale in mind so your new tapestry selection harmonizes with its surroundings instead of overwhelming the space.

Medieval-Inspired Decorative Tapestries

Medieval-style tapestries rank among the most opulent and inviting for pure romantic ambience. These ornately detailed weavings with intricate borders made a dramatic decorative statement within ancient castle halls and manors.

Today, they beautifully accentuate Gothic architectural elements or stately traditional interiors. Look for iconic medieval imagery like courtly love couples, vibrant garden scenes and coats of arms. Deep, vibrant hues like wine red, emerald green, and sapphire blue set against warm ecru create rich visual interest.

Metal embroidery adds a light-catching gleam with real gold and silver threads for majestic embellishment.

Floral & Garden Tapestries

Floral imagery constitutes some of the most prevalent and enduring tapestry designs across eras. Stylized roses, tulips, pansies and peonies intertwined with graceful scrolling vines and foliage offer natural beauty.

These lush tapestries feel especially well-suited to bedrooms and feminine decor. French Aubusson weavers pioneered exquisite floral styles like leafy Renaissance Tree of Life patterns or Rococo arrangements in pastel silk. Some designs incorporate vases, urns or garden architecture for added depth and detail.

Vintage styles showcase evolving tastes, with Victorian cabbage roses giving way to Art Nouveau’s sinuous curves inspired by nature.

Rustic Lodge & Cabin Tapestries

Channel rugged wilderness allure with decorative tapestries patterned with game animals like deer, elk, bears and foxes. These handsome trophies peer from forests of evergreens against snow-peaked mountains and dramatic skies.

Rustic wooden twig frames reinforce the cosy cabin or lodge aesthetic. Pair warm earthy hues like loden green and chestnut brown with comfy leather furniture. Add natural elements like stone, timber and ironwork for an inviting refuge from city life.

Nautical & Seascape Tapestries

Transport yourself seaside with vivid sailboat tapestries or turbulent ocean waves crashing against rocky cliffs and lighthouses. Calming cool blues create a serene ambience, perfect for relaxed coastal living rooms or bedrooms. Abstract interpretations or mapped terrestrial/nautical charts add intrigue.

For literal inspiration, seventeenth-century Dutch Masters were renowned for their meticulously detailed maritime battle scenes and galleons tacking through harbours.

Global Bazaar Tapestries

Ethnic-inspired designs draw from ornamental cultural traditions across Morocco, Persia, Turkey and India. Vibrant colours combine geometrical and natural motifs like arched windows screened by flowering trellises. Kilim-style tapestries feature folksy tribal patterns in earthen jewel tones. Reinterpretations of

Oriental rug motifs translate effectively to wall hangings. Global bazaar styles promise adventure and far-flung inspiration. Display them alone or layer them over neutral walls for an exotic accent.

Wine Country & Vineyard Tapestries

For oenophiles, wine-themed tapestries encapsulate the romance of wine-country living. Find colourful clusters of ripening grapes atop trellised vines that recall happy hours relaxing among sun-dappled vineyards and olive groves. Soft dusty rose pinks, pale sage greens and buttery gold capture languid days and lingering sunsets.

Abstract interpretations soak up the mood with freeform shapes and blended colour gradients. Include rustic wine casks, barrels, bottles and glasses for casual style even without an Italian villa.

How to Incorporate Tapestries

Hung properly, a tapestry becomes the beautiful centrepiece of your living space. But how you style and display your new prized wall hanging also impacts its overall effect. Follow these tapestry decor tips:

Pay Attention to Scale & Size

When selecting a new tapestry, consider existing furniture proportions and wall dimensions. Overly large tapestries overwhelm a room’s configuration, whereas undersized pieces look skimpy or out of sync.

Measure wall space, then order tapestry dimensions accordingly for an ideal fit. About 60-75% width coverage creates the best balance. Arrange the seat to face the tapestry, making it a lovely focal point for conversation areas.

Use the Right Hanging Hardware

Because of their weight, securely mounting your tapestry is crucial. Avoid improvising with thumbtacks or standard picture hooks which cannot support heavier textiles. Instead, opt for speciality ribbons, rods or Velcro systems designed to handle multiple pounds.

Some systems incorporate slender tracks or wooden battens stretched above the hem for easy sliding and adjustment. Correctly installed hardware keeps tapestries properly taut and positioned.

Add Supplemental Lighting

Spotlighting draws further attention to a fabulous new tapestry while enhancing its beauty. Install sconces or picture lights above the top perimeter to illuminate details. Gooseneck lamps also provide perfect directional lighting.

Adding unexpected backlighting behind a tapestry creates intrigue and showcases embroidery, metallic threads or intricate patterns.

Layer with Decorative Rods & Curtains

Embellish plain wall tapestries by mounting them beneath more ornamental traversing rods. Those with carved finials, brass rings, or decorative end caps contribute to a beautiful framework. Hang complementary sheer or opaque curtains that pick up colours from the tapestry itself. Open curtain panels toward the sides for complete tapestry visibility when desired.

For small spaces, hang a rod above with a swath of sheer curtains visible behind the tapestry rather than full curtains.

Repurpose as Tablecloth

Don’t restrict tapestries exclusively to wall duty. Their generous proportions transform some styles into opulent tablecloths for large dining tables or buffets. Protect the table’s surface by inserting a layer of felt between the tapestry and the tabletop.

Then, artfully arrange decorative edge draping for maximum visual impact against surrounding chairs and tablescape accessories.

Creatively Mix Decorative Tapestry Styles

If selecting one oversized central tapestry feels too imposing, creatively mix multiple mid-sized or shaped tapestries for lively, eclectic collage effects. Square, rectangular and half-round tapestries hung in asymmetrical groupings make captivating gallery displays.

Include different colour palettes and design aesthetics like traditional motifs, modern geometrics and abstract florals. Repeat complementary colours and textures to link assorted tapestries thematically.

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The possibilities for decorating with marvellous tapestries are as boundless as the imagination. Whether you seek to add medieval majesty, floral opulence or breezy nautical style to your home’s interiors, these timelessly alluring textiles promise gorgeous focal style points. With the correct scale, display and creative enhancements, tapestries introduce unique beauty, comfort and self-expression to every living space they grace.

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