I’ve never been a great user of decorative tassels and trimmings, seeing them as generally at odds with our contemporary lifestyle. Yet fresh from a trip to Melbourne to view the latest range from French company Houlès, I’m starting to change my tune.

Houlès manufacture exquisite hand made passementerie (trimmings), hardware and fabrics and has been selected for the decoration of palaces and castles in France and abroad as well as countless grand homes. Their new range however has been designed with a leaner, more contemporary interior in mind and it’s exciting and inspiring.

The introduction of innovative products in this area is signalling the start of a new trend. Years of restraint are starting to give way as the decorative dial gets turned up a notch.

Historically tassels and trimmings have been used to evoke a sense of luxury and opulence at best reserved for the grandeur of period residences. Used as edging for soft furnishings including curtains, pelmets, cushions, lighting and upholstery and furniture, they use extravagant combinations of pom poms, beads, pearls, braid, cord, bullion and gimp for serious embellishment. We’re not ready for this exaggerated decorative style however attention to detail with subtle elements will upgrade your interior and its level of finish.

Contemporary ranges include the use of leather, rope, chunky studs, metallic colours, waxy fringe, timber and metal. Braid is also available in wide format (100mm) in contemporary patterns, which will instantly tart up a plain cushion. They all work really well with plain fabrics and add verve to minimalist interiors. Rather than offering purely embellishment, they can also define shape, provide boldness and inject a little sophistication.

In addition to Houlès, other companies to keep an eye out for include Zimmer and Rohde, Zinc textiles, Harlequin and Travers. You can access these products through your interior designer or soft furnishings specialist such as Soundys Soft Furnishings in Gregory St, Sandy Bay.

The opportunity to use trimmings is a chance to create something really beautiful and truly unique. Here are some applications to get you started:

Soft furnishings:

I’m always drawn to the earthiness of linen, the texture of velvet and the sumptuous elegance of silk however trimmings will enhance virtually any plain or plain textured fabric.


  • In floor lengths curtains use two different fabrics (1/4:3/4 or 1/3:2/3 depending on the drop) and conceal the horizontal seam with one or two different trims. Elegance personified.
  • Create a striking vertical definition down curtain edges using trim.
  • Position leather tiebacks low on full-length curtains like a belt on a pair of hipsters. You will need at least double fullness to get the right effect.


  • The strong horizontal line of a Roman blind lends itself naturally to accent. The leading edge can handle trim, pleats or a simple bead.


Bigger is better with cushions so use a minimum size of 450mm square. Don’t be tempted to use larger quantities of smaller cushions as they end up looking fussy.

  • Lustrous woven braid sharpens up the face of any cushion and adds definition to the edges of panelled cushions.
  • Contrasting textures works beautifully
  • The use of contemporary cord, fringe or beading at the seamed edge of cushions provides a classic upgrade.


I’m predicting (and yearning for) a big comeback of bullion fringing around the base of furniture. Zinc textiles have a stunning looped bullion fringe in waxed cotton that will inflate the personality of an armchair. Heavy bullion fringe will also add wow to the base of a contemporary sofa or ottoman. Or how about bringing back the fringed bedspread for some bedtime decadence?


Houlès also have an extraordinarily beautiful range of decorative rod and ring sets that ooze modern luxury. They combine glass, timber and metal in an alliance of contemporary style and sophisticated material. Some are sleek and discreet whilst others are more showy. They are a high end product for the lover of fine detail.

Or for something quirky, try a leather strap, copper piping or painted timber to hang something breezy.

Like adding a piece of jewellery, accessorising your home can take it somewhere special.


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