Interiors: Join the clan with tartan furnishings

PUBLISHED: 20:05 30 September 2014 | UPDATED: 17:51 08 October 2014

Fairburn wall covering, in red and plum, £16.99 a roll; Fairburn red studded screen, £75, from the Lochs & Lagoons collection, Arthouse. PA Photo/Handout.

Fairburn wall covering, in red and plum, £16.99 a roll; Fairburn red studded screen, £75, from the Lochs & Lagoons collection, Arthouse. PA Photo/Handout.


Scotland has been making its mark in the headlines lately - and there’s a tartan army on the march in our homes, too.

Edinburgh Tartan wallpaper mural, £79, Digetex Home. PA Photo/Handout.Edinburgh Tartan wallpaper mural, £79, Digetex Home. PA Photo/Handout.

Interior designers are determinedly wooing us over to Highland decor style, with its characteristic plaids, those classic patterns with their criss-crossed horizontal and vertical bands in multiple colours.

The majority of the leading home collections feature, at the very least, a touch of tartan on furniture and accessories.

While the pattern can still be found in traditional guises, it’s also been re-energised with fresh, modern colour palettes, making it suitable for any setting, whether you’re aiming for the fashionable rustic hunting lodge, emulating a grand, period interior, or just fancy a cheeky nod to the current passion for plaid.

“An ideal antidote to dark evenings and chilly mornings, tartans have long been a firm autumn/winter favourite, and this season they’re well and truly back in vogue,” confirms Ian Bisatt, design director for furniture company, Multiyork.

“From classic Highland tartan, showcasing a traditional mix of blues, greens and reds, to bold blanket weaves in pretty pastel shades, the choice of styles has never been so wide-ranging.

“In part, the popularity of this heritage fabric can be linked to our renewed love-affair with traditional craftsmanship and natural materials, along with key seasonal trends, such as ‘woodland’ and ‘country-style’.”

Pheasant feather tartan lampshade, from £54, Meltons. PA Photo/Handout.Pheasant feather tartan lampshade, from £54, Meltons. PA Photo/Handout.

Tartan upholstery once conjured images of fusty hotels full of gloomy wood panelling and dusty stag heads, but the modern take on the design is anything but drab, and can easily be given a starring role in contemporary, as well as traditional or period homes, to add richness and drama.

“A sofa or armchair in a rich plaid is the perfect way to introduce both pattern and colour into an interior scheme,” suggests Bisatt.

“Plaid fabrics, which pick up on a room’s existing palette, make for a beautifully classic look, or for a more muted effect, add decorative cushions or a cashmere tartan throw. Choose colours which lie opposite each other on the colour wheel, such as a dark blue and mustard yellow, for a stronger visual statement.”

Work the Scottish lodge look with tartan fabric upholstery and faux animal trophies, or opt for a more eclectic approach, using accessories to liven up a scheme.

So join the clan, and declare you’re mad for plaid.

Red mist

Cavan Plaid Carpet from The Abbeyglen Collection £80 per sq metre, Brintons. PA Photo/Handout.Cavan Plaid Carpet from The Abbeyglen Collection £80 per sq metre, Brintons. PA Photo/Handout.

Traditional red plaid packs a mighty punch and is particularly appropriate at for the approaching festive season, conjuring a nostalgic and cosy atmosphere.

“Tartan is enduringly popular,” says Alison Cork, founder of online interiors company, Alison At Home.

“Plaid designs communicate a sense of heritage and a dash of sartorial style. Colourful, tactile and incredibly versatile, it’s as relevant for homes now as it has ever been. This classic pattern can instantly make a room look smarter, and red shades and patterns are well suited to dining rooms, where the colour helps stimulate the appetite and socialising.”

Tartan teaser

If all that rich colour and pattern has you running for the hills - or the Highlands - there’s a solution - simply flirt with this look. Opt for a combination of a neutral colour palette, fine checks and less vibrant tartans.

“Traditional heritage fabrics feature in the top autumn collections, and tartan’s leading the way as one of the hottest textiles around,” says Kate Mooney, founder of Occa-Home.

Sherlock chair, £450 and footstool, £199, seen in Stirling red, Next. PA Photo/Handout.Sherlock chair, £450 and footstool, £199, seen in Stirling red, Next. PA Photo/Handout.

“Tartans needn’t be garish, and you can subtly hint at the look with checks in soft browns and greys, mossy greens or washed-out blues.”

Plaid perfect

Bring on the green and blue plaids for rich, elegant decor much favoured by designers including Ralph Lauren, and evocative of the rousing shades of a Highland landscape.

“Tartan’s one of the most enduring textile trends. In fact I would go as far as to say that it is rarely out of fashion,” says Catharine Denham, head of design for BHS.

“Over the years, the pattern has featured cyclically over the decades, most recently in the Seventies, through to being picked up by fashion designer Vivienne Westwood in the Eighties, and part of the grunge trend in the Nineties.

“Tartan’s timeless appeal, together with the comprehensive range of fibres, varying scales and colour palettes, makes it suitable for virtually any interior scheme.”

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