What does the 1970s mean to you? I’m thinking The Brady Bunch; a lot of mustard and dun, earthy tones; flares and midi skirts; macrame – and in interiors, flower-patterned couches reigned supreme.
Until recently, if you came across a floral-print settee out in 2019, you’d just assume it was an ancient relic. But, “granny chic is quite on trend,” reveals Lauren Harris, senior designer at DFS. “Of course you’ll want to modernise this look and bring it up to date,” she adds.
So how did this happen in the first place? Well, it’s all down to our pals in the fashion industry. Once again, what happens on the catwalks, especially in terms of colour and pattern, inevitably trickles down into decor. Add to that the fact we’ve bell-curved on hygge, Scandi-chic and minimalism, means we are now ready to throw the whole nine yards at it.
A new credibility is delivered thanks to collaborations such as the V&A’s recent collection with Sofa Workshop (newly arrived in Belfast) which features archive-inspired patterns that are a lot of fun.
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“We’ve seen the trend for colourful, maximalist floral patterns coming through, for a bold, more-is-more look,” confirms Harris. They’ve been creeping in everywhere over the last year. From high-end manufacturers to Ikea, there’s now a floral fancy for every budget.
But this is something you really do want to get right. It’s a lot simpler to buy a plain grey couch than it is a piece of seating stuffed with floral ‘tude. That’s no reason not to do it, though: you just need to consider it carefully. “If you’re new to this and are a bit afraid of overload, my top tip would be to go for a floral print with a larger flower head motif and bold colours,” Harris advises.
Before you hand over your credit card, she says, work out what sort of print you like. “There are so many floral print styles to choose from.From more traditional, chintz-inspired ditsy prints in pastel shades; to maximalist prints in bold jewel tones; to botanical-inspired prints that incorporate palms and ferns – which have been particularly popular this year – the type of floral print you like will impact how much of it you want to use in the space and on what pieces.”
Abstract florals are coming into play too: Sofa.com’s collaboration with print designer Lucy Tiffney is a great example of floral prints that don’t feel blousy or overdone and which allow you to tap into the trend in a really contemporary way.
Harris’s next tip helps to bring your scheme together. “Echo a couple of your favourite colours from the print elsewhere in the room, in paint and contemporary accessories.” If you’re feeling a bit braver, you can try a print juxtaposition.
“We’ve seen the trend coming through for clashing prints and colours, so if you’re feeling confident, try clashing your florals with a mix of different prints,” she says. “If you’re worried about it feeling too overwhelming, choose a couple of floral patterns that share a common neutral background colour, such as cream, charcoal, navy or black, to help tone it down.” It’s wise advice.
Lastly: “Large floral pieces of furniture work best in rooms where you can really make them the star of the show,” Harris says.
Kirstie McDermott is editorial director with House and Home magazine
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