There are a few things from my childhood that still make me cringe, but chief among them is my brief obsession with the floral, gunny sack style of my youth. While under its twee spell, I covered my room in anything lacy and flowery, the dreamier the better.
But as fast as you can say “roses are red, violets are blue,” the love affair was over and I moved on to the next fad (most likely, Hammer Time). In fact, I didn’t have a hint of flowers in my home until fairly recently, and I’m wondering what took me so long. After all, this natural beauty has been dressing up homes for ages, and for good reason: It’s pretty. And thanks to new twists on this most classic of prints, it’s now easier than ever to add florals into your decor, even if your tastes run more contemporary than chintz. Here are some of my favorite ways to play around with petals.
If florals had a default setting, it would be soft and ultra-feminine (hello, Laura Ashley and Rachel Ashwell). While that style is natural for perking up a powder room or dressing up a young girl’s bedroom, it can also work seamlessly into a more masculine, shared space, like the dining room or den. For best results, pair floral-patterned pieces with strong neutrals, like grey, greige and taupe — they’ll keep the print from looking too busy. And stick with just a bit of flowers — as with any print, a little bit goes a long way.
This muted dinnerware from Mikasa, for example, doesn’t scream “flowers” and is plenty adult enough for a proper dinner party. It’s also a lovely way to make leftovers more appealing. For the living room, try something small-but-punchy, like this brightly embroidered throw pillow in on-trend Radiant Orchid, or large-but-subtle, like these elegant chairs with an unexpected swath of florals.
That old chestnut about everything old being new again is especially true of this sweet print. Granny’s collection of chintz and liberty print pieces can look surprisingly at home in a modern setting, so long as you don’t OD on the nostalgia. If you don’t have any hand-me-downs to rummage through, there are lots of beautiful, vintage-inspired pieces available. A few of my favorites: this sweet lidded box, perfect for a nightstand or to hold keys; this striking area rug, all romantic flowers and vines; or, if you’re feeling flush, this Kate Middleton-worthy tea set from Wedgwood.
Pastel blooms not your thing? Make like a Marikmekko and head straight for bold, structured florals that are high on design and style. Beautiful on their own, the graphic motif really pops when paired with a hard-edged pattern like chevron, plaid, or stripes. Exhibit A: this awesome floral and scrollwork platter, which can be used as a tray or even as the centerpiece on the coffee table. Another shining example? This floral and ikat storage bench in eye-popping raspberry.