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.
While it’s true that some floral fans might be guilty of letting petal prints spread through their home like weeds, there is another, more subtle way, to approach green-fingered decor.
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.”
PICK OF THE BUNCH: 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. Croft Collection Rose Cushion, £40, John Lewis.
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.
Do a supermarket sweep and bag a By Sainsbury’s embroidered bedlinen set from the striking Botanist range, from £28 for a double duvet cover set, available in stores.
In-Spaces has a lovely grey and white Freya Lace Silk Cushion, £55. Alternatively, if you have grey backdrop, add a dash of drama with Delcor’s Magnum sofa, from £2,176, which can be upholstered in gorgeous, richly coloured purple and pink Bloomsbury fabric.
BLOOMING GORGEOUS: Bloomsbury Rose Damson Cushion, £100, Sweetpea & Willow.
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.”
PICK OF THE BUNCH: 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.
Mimic an Eastern feel with the Osaka (cherry blossom) bedlinen design from Christy. Double Duvet Cover, £89; Oxford Pillowcases, £35 a pair. Just as striking is George Home’s Stippled Floral Duvet Range, which starts from £10.
My favourite accessory is a Peony Fuchsia Cushion, £60, In-Spaces
BLOOMING GORGEOUS: Evoke gentle country charm with a trio of Floral Ceramic Jugs in different sizes, currently half price at £11.50, £7.50 and £4.50 each, The Contemporary Home.
“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.”
PICK OF THE BUNCH: 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.
Pretty wild flowers in a meadow is pictured on the Betsy fabric, which Marks & Spencer has used to great effect on a Grove Chair, from £699, and a Bedding Set, from £59 for a double, available in stores.
If that’s all too tame, B&Q’s Tropical Floral Wallpaper, £12 a roll, would ramp up the temperature and be bang on trend as interiors go hot and steamy this summer.
BLOOMING GORGEOUS: Jemima Digital Floral Print Bedding Set, from £49.50, is a winner, Marks & Spencer.
B&Q: 0845 850 0175/diy.com
The Contemporary Home: 0845 130 8229/tch.net
Delcor: 0191 237 1303/delcor.co.uk
Designers Guild: 020 7351 5775/www.designersguild.com
George Home: direct.asda.com
In Spaces: 07879 012 294/in-spaces.com
John Lewis: 0845 6049 049/www.johnlewis.com
Little Greene: 020 7935 8844/littlegreene.com
Marks & Spencer: 0333 014 8000 /www.marksandspencer.com
Sainsbury’s: 0800 636 262/sainsburys.co.uk
Sweetpea & Willow: 0345 257 2627/sweetpeaandwillow.com