In my constant search for beautiful and unusual fabrics I came across Inchyra Linens. Of course I know there is nothing unusual in linens as such, but these linens have been given a treatment so they appear to be instantly aged, thus taking on the look and feel they would normally only achieve after years of wear and washing.
The texture is soft and alluring and when made into curtains they immediately hang in soft curves, no need to dress them at all, yet they are robust enough to grace a much loved armchair or sofa. (I am even thinking of making a coat out of my particular favourite, reminiscent of Tara Fitzgerald’s in the BBC adaptation of Frenchman’s Creek.)
The one small pattern book encompasses a great many moods – there are plains in gentle earth tones, as one would expect from linen, some stripes and checks which alone create a country theme but when mixed with the patterns or plains take on a more urban vibe. The two-colour leaf styles are crisp yet sensual, naive yet smart, very cleverly rendered to fit into an abundance of schemes in any guise. Then the patterned stripes are straight out of a Jane Austen novel, the colours so elegantly faded that I could believe I had picked them up from a purveyor of antique textiles but without the actual threadbare finishes. The subtle reds, blues and greens on the background of natural linen are so completely Regency I find myself expecting to look up from my perusal and see Mr Darcy whisking Elizabeth Bennett behind the bushes for a quick dabble in moody glances.
There are plenty of aged looking fabrics out there, but these ones take some beating. To my mind the test is in the feel of the fabric and these definitely pass because they are soft and malleable from the onset – compare an instant coffee taken from a jar to a genuine barista prepared one and you will understand what I mean. This really is the cream.
When I met Caroline, the creator, at Decorex in September, I recognised a kindred spirit in her love for fabric and was instantly charmed by her enthusiasm. I was surprised, therefore, to discover that pre Inchyra she had worked as a high flyer in the City putting together investment funds, actually structuring the investment products. It seems she left it all behind when her husband James, the current Lord Inchyra, inherited Inchyra House in Perthshire from his grandparents and they decided it would be a better environment in which to bring up their children and enjoy the countryside with their horses and dogs around them.
The beautiful Regency Mansion, built in 1795, was once described in Country Life as the most perfect small estate in Scotland and played host to eminent politicians Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden in the 50s and 60s. Imagine my excitement when I found she also had a bed and breakfast in her beautiful home and one which I can’t wait to visit. (My second love, as some of you may know, is the hospitality industry, fuelled by an 80’s road trip through California where I met with the famous American guest house culture, a plethora of gabled homes painted in rich hues and featuring huge beds with feather eiderdowns, masses of pillows, everything a girl who forgot her vanity bag could need, a host of books and magazines and the most amazing feasts for breakfast – home-made granolas, free range eggs sunny side up, muffins to melt any taste bud and huge platters of fruit and yogurt, plus half a pig in a sandwich covered in semolina sauce and honey, all washed down with coffee after coffee in true American style. Plus the prospect of bumping into Clint Eastwood as we drove the coastal route through Monterey, and one which required an awful amount of preening in the car mirror when I wasn’t driving, another story altogether.)
Anyway, upon taking up residency at Inchyra House, Caroline discovered a mountain of old fabrics, linens and blankets in the attic and – ever one to see an opportunity – she started an antiques business to sell them and also began to make household items out of the ones that were too scrappy or damaged to sell as whole pieces, thus Inchyra Design was born. Working from the basement of the house, she produced trinkets, wash bags, lampshades, bags for all sorts and cushions which she sold on line, mixed with bought in household items such as wooden bowls and scrubbing brushes. However, things began to get a little tricky as the fabric supply ran out and, try as she might, Caroline could not find any new fabrics to compare with the originals. So began a search which became an obsession and resulted in the highly specialised and secret recipe she now uses to age the linens. Mostly sourced from Scottish weavers, with a little back up from Belgium, the linens are all printed in England to Caroline’s exact specification, then returned to Scotland for distribution.
No longer a small ”basement business”, the emphasis is now on the fabrics that are beginning to grace homes across the country and receive the admiration they deserve. There is also talk of conquering America, an easy feat I would imagine given the very British nature of the brand. The surprising thing is that the fabrics are very reasonably priced, starting at £35 for a plain lightweight linen and going up to £54 for a printed one, so if you care to step into my shop I can show you the range or give me a call or mail and I will send you some samples. I hope this small collection succeeds and grows, it is wonderful to have such a sublime product yet still be able to chat on the phone to the big boss – who, after all, is a Lady – and be inspired by her passion and dedication.
INCHYRA LINENS www.inchyra.com
Jane McIntyre Interior Design and Project Management and The Interior Design Editor for The Vintage Magazine
T: 01962 853882
M: 07734 031206