Mid-century modern style is known for its clean lines and sleek materials, but the hard edges of this trendy aesthetic have recently softened up. Once a staple in mid-century homes, bouclé fabric is making a resurgence, bringing cozy texture to upholstered furniture and accents. “As our architecture and interiors have progressed to more modern forms, curves and comfort are becoming more of a trend in furnishings,” says Gillian Segal, an interior designer based in Vancouver, Canada.
With European origins, bouclé derives from the French word meaning “curled” or “ringed.” It can refer to both yarn made from looped fibers or fabric woven with bouclé yarn. Although traditionally made from wool, bouclé can also be made from polyester, linen, cotton, silk, and other materials.
The fabric style initially became popular in the U.S. during the 1940s, after architect Florence Knoll asked designer Eero Saarinen to create a chair you could “really curl up in,” explains Alessandra Wood, design historian and vice president of style at online interior design service Modsy. Saarinen upholstered his iconic Womb Chair in the soft wool fabric, which led to bouclé’s popularity in other mid-century furniture designs. Later, the nubby textile featured prominently in clothing designs from luxury fashion house Chanel throughout the 1950s.
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Today, bouclé is ideal for adding softness to sofas, chairs, throw blankets, accent pillows, rugs, and more. “The twisted wool fibers are incredibly durable, and it works so well on upholstery,” says Seattle-based interior designer LeeAnn Baker. Typically used in creamy whites and light neutrals, the fabric brings an additional layer of interest to a room without adding color. “Neutral, simple interiors require some diversity in textures,” Segal says. “Bouclé offers a range in texture while keeping in a neutral palette.”
Especially as people spend more time at home, warm and inviting decor is essential. “We’re in a moment where people are looking to turn their homes into a comfortable safe-haven from the world, and a fabric that’s akin to your favorite cozy sweater is the perfect way to get that feel from your sofa or side chairs,” says Wood. For an extra touch of coziness, here are five of our favorite bouclé furnishings to incorporate into your home.
Bouclé Accent Chair
Wool bouclé fabric makes curling up on this accent chair extra cozy. In addition to the plush fabric, the back features a scalloped-edge Art Deco design. Sleek metal legs in a gold finish contrast with the soft, cream-colored upholstery.
Buy It: Timms Side Chair, ($350, Wayfair)
Bouclé Throw Pillow
You don’t have to commit to a major makeover to try the bouclé trend. Smaller accessories like throw pillows make perfect textured accents. This handwoven pillow weaves the fabric into a graphic black-and-white design. The cover comes with your choice of a feather-down or down-alternative insert.
Buy It: 23-Inch Hazel Black and White Bouclé Pillow, ($50, CB2)
Bouclé Throw Blanket
Drape this bouclé throw across your sofa or the end of your bed for an instant boost of comfort. Measuring 5 feet in length, the machine-washable blanket features nubby bouclé on top and a soft sherpa backing for extra warmth. It’s currently available in deep red, navy, and gray.
Buy It: Solid Boucle Throw Reversed To Sherpa, ($20, Target)
Add interest to flooring with a textured bouclé rug. Handwoven using jute and cotton in varying thicknesses, this area rug loops the yarn into a subtle zigzag pattern. Available in four sizes, the rug is meant for indoor use only and should be dry-cleaned.
Buy It: Jaipur Living Devyn Rug, (starting at $93, Bed Bath & Beyond)
Bouclé Swivel Chair
For a more polished look, opt for bouclé fabric with a smoother, less textured finish, like the upholstery on this swivel armchair. Soft ivory-colored fabric enhances the chair’s curved design. The 180-degree swivel base allows you to rotate the seat as needed.
Buy It: Ivory Megan Swivel Chair, ($350, World Market)