What Are Home Textiles?

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

There are many kinds of textiles, each with their own design needs. In this lesson, we'll check out home textiles and see what defines their functional and aesthetic designs.

Textiles at Home

We fill our lives with textiles, the products made of cloth or woven fabrics. In fact, life would be pretty different without them. If you don't believe me, try spending a full day in the sun with no clothes on. Of course, textiles are not always purely functional. We also make textiles for decorative reasons, and one place where we see the union of function and fashion is inside our homes.

Home textiles are cloths and fabrics used as part of home furnishings. They make our lives more comfortable, and give our interiors a defined aesthetic characteristic. To be clear, home textiles are not just any textile within a residence. For example, your clothes are not home textiles, even if you are wearing them at home. Home textiles are specifically tied to the interior of a residence, functionally and aesthetically. Just try and imagine life without them.

Home textiles are some of the most important products in several nations

Floor Coverings

Textiles are thousands of years old, and perhaps nearly as old as genetically modern humans as a species. This makes textiles one of our oldest art forms, and one type of home textile may rank amongst the first forms of this art. Textiles have long been used as floor coverings, creating a sense of detachment between the interior of a residence and the earth. Even in nomadic societies, floor coverings are often seen as a necessity. In many societies, floor coverings can double as wall décor as well.

In our society, floor-covering textiles generally come in two forms: carpets and rugs. Carpets are built into the floor, while rugs can be moved around. Both serve practical purposes of insulating the house and preventing bugs and other things in the dirt from getting in, as well as aesthetic purposes. While you can realistically make floor coverings from any materials, sturdy fabrics are generally preferred since carpets and rugs see a lot of foot traffic…obviously.


The other absolute essential in every residence in every type of society is some form of bedding. While the bed itself is rarely a textile, the things that make a bed comfortable enough to sleep on generally are. In our society, we're usually talking about sheets, pillowcases, and comforters. Blankets are also very important bedding textiles (which are also used in other rooms of the house), but believe it or not these textiles may be formed very differently. Many people like their bed sheets to be lightweight and breathable, leading towards a preference for materials like silk, linen, and nylon. On the other hand, blankets must be soft, but still retain heat to be functional.

Used correctly, bedding can really bring the room together- just ask the decorators of Versailles


Where would we be without our towels? Towels are incredibly useful home textiles and whether you're talking about guest, bath, hand, or beach, all towels share one thing in common: they need to absorb moisture and dry quickly. Pure cotton is a highly desirable fabric since it's soft, warm, extremely absorbent, and can hold dye well enough to make towels in all the colors of the rainbow. Linen and polyester are also used for some towels.

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