How to use florals in your interiors, without going overboard
PUBLISHED: 10:13 16 May 2016 | UPDATED: 10:13 16 May 2016
Some floral fans might be guilty of letting petal prints spread through their home like weeds, but there is another, more subtle way, to approach green-fingered decor.
While even the word ‘floral’ can strike decor dread into those who associate blooms, sprigs and sprays solely with chintzy country cottage settings, or fussy female boudoirs, chic, modern interpretations of this blooming lovely look are a brilliant way to imaginatively enliven neutral schemes, which can stray into bland unless care is taken (colour-phobes take note!).
Painterly, blowsy florals or modern botanicals – grey and white’s the coolest combo this year – literally lift a room, just like a bouquet of beautifully arranged fresh flowers.
“Floral designs are perennially popular and the trend for people to enjoy decor designs inspired by nature continues to be strong,” says Caroline Driver, senior textiles designer, John Lewis.
“Recently, I’ve seen a change towards designs using more of a mix of flowers and leaf shapes, so they’re more reflective of nature, and a move away from more stylised designs featuring only one type of flower.
“Traditional archive patterns are being reworked by a new generation of designers, which is exciting, because there are continually new ways to use botanicals, and those innovative interpretations are winning florals a new generation of fans.”
So, as the highlight of the gardening world calendar, RHS Chelsea Flower Show (May 24-28), looms, celebrate with some dazzling displays indoors...
Roses are always a favourite flower, and they’re the stars of fashion and decor this season.
“Big flowers, like roses and dahlias, have been used throughout history on textile designs, and this continues today. The trend for painterly florals does lend itself particularly well to ‘blowsy’ flowers like roses, and they work particularly well as a motif,” says Driver. “We’ve included a pale pink rose on one of our key cushions for our Croft Collection this year, which was inspired by that feeling of haziness you get when looking at flower beds in bright sunshine.
“The image used for this design is cropped quite tightly, so the painterly marks and the natural beauty of the flower can be fully appreciated. Accent pieces, like cushions or lampshades, are an easy way to introduce pattern or a pop of colour in a room. I love our floral Freya bedlinen in white and pale grey, with pops of honey colour on the petals, which would add interest to a subtle, neutral scheme.”
Treat a sofa like a window box – just as you’d dig up those old plants, replace tired, last-season cushions with new rose-patterned ones, for an instant style uplift.
Grey’s still the most popular shade in the palette, and floral wallpapers in grey and white are an easy way to work two trends. Little Greene has a rose-style Gustav Trophy, £71 a roll, in its Archive Trail collection, which would work well as a wall panel.
Plunge into pinks – opt for sweet and sugary, or grown-up shades, which look sophisticated on clean-lined contemporary furniture.
“Layering up different scales of floral patterns, from ditzy to large scale, in a tonal colour palette, is a really interesting way of decorating, especially when it’s done using stronger colours, such as pinks through to plums,” says Driver.
“Garden florals, where there’s a mix of flowers and plants together in one design, is something I also see growing in future seasons, as people love to bring the feel of their outdoor space inside.”
Pairing plain with floral upholstery won’t overpower a setting, and works especially well in a small room. Marks & Spencer demonstrates this well with its Harper furniture range, which can be upholstered in a delightful Phoebe print, featuring richly-coloured blooms and birds. Large Harper Sofa, from £999; Jocelyn Armchair, from £449, and Harper Footstool, from £199.
“Florals are gathering ground in interiors now summer’s on the horizon, and they’re a fantastic, organic alternative to the regimented geometric prints which have been dominating,” says Jacquie Dunton, co-founder of Sweetpea & Willow.
“We’re seeing a growing trend in big, painterly blooms and moving away from delicate, ditzy prints. Homeowners are becoming braver about using bold patterns and colour, and dramatic, oversized blooms can really be effective in enlivening a neutral scheme.
“To introduce the floral trend and tie a scheme together, select one or two key shades from a flower print. For instance, if you have a floral rug, pick out a couple of complementing hues from it and echo them in cushions, lamps and vases. This will unify the room and prevent the look becoming too kitsch.
“Alternatively, a beautiful, big bouquet of flowers, taking pride of place on a dining or coffee table, is a simple and affordable way to make a statement in any room.”
Just as uniform, orderly flower beds can look unimaginative, so too can regimented floral schemes.
Be inspired by the Christian Lacroix Maison fabric collection for Designers Guild, which features stunning prints that can stand alone or work together in a profusion of pattern. Parvenue, in Rosee, £75 a metre, features bold blooms on a white background, while Frivolites, in Nacre, £110 a metre, incorporates candy-stripes with vivid blooms.