Modern Life Makes Room for Blooms

Floral patterns hold a special place in our collective memory. Who didn’t have a granny with a comfy armchair in rose-covered fabric? But beyond nostalgia, there’s still much to love and enjoy in a vintage floral. These patterns typically feature big, blowsy blooms and trailing branches and are often mellow in color — think faded pink, soft beige, sage and gray. Unlike contemporary florals, which can look quite abstract, vintage floral designs bloom with lifelike roses, lilacs, peonies, ferns and sprigs. And while we may associate them with interior schemes gone by, these versatile patterns can look at home in the funkiest contemporary spaces, feeling gorgeously up to date while remaining timeless.

Make it foxy. This chaise longue is upholstered in a striking floral fabric. The pattern may be classic, but its black background lends it lots of glamour. Teamed with a cheetah-print rug, a fern on a plinth and bold checkerboard flooring, it makes for a highly eclectic and glam vintage look. I’m sure Joan Collins would approve!

Channel country style. A leafy arbor, a vase overflowing with fresh flowers and a sunny garden. All that remains to complete this idyllic scene is a tablecloth in a soft pink and red vintage floral. It’s English country style at its most soothing.

Fade to gray. One way to give a vintage floral design a more contemporary feel is to find one in an unusual color. Here, a classic rose pattern is reinvented in blacks and grays, so it looks familiar but also exciting.
rigby & mac
Maximize the vintage vibe. Teaming vintage florals with a vintage-inspired scheme works beautifully, creating a homey, comforting atmosphere. This pillow covered in a vintage floral fabric is the perfect fit for the battered old leather armchair, adding color and pattern without causing a clash of feel or period.

Go a little retro. Choose a vintage floral that’s more 1970s repeat than classic chintz for a fun, retro feel. This sofa is upholstered in a floral fabric and teamed with pillows in a riot of retro patterns for a layered, confidently clashing look.

Cover the walls. Floral wallpapers are worth choosing with care. A large, noisy repeat will make a strong impact, but it can also tax the eye and make a room feel smaller. A subtler floral pattern, on the other hand, which incorporates softer colors and plenty of breathing space between the blooms, will look like a beautiful backdrop, adding detail without shouting for attention.

Use generously. Matching wallpaper and curtains give this room a sense of order. It feels beautifully coordinated and calm, thanks to the soft tones of the fabric and paper and the neutral rug, proving that vintage florals can be elegant and even restrained.

RDP Architects
Soften up a space. Just a pinch of a vintage floral can transform a simple monochromatic scheme. This bathroom might look rather austere were it not for the floral armchair and Roman blind.
Clare Gaskin Interiors
Cover a powder room. In the smallest room, have fun throwing out the rulebook and decorating with pattern. In this powder room, a muted floral in brown and beige brings welcome depth and detail, but you could go much brighter or bolder without causing offense.

Glam it up. This gorgeously glam bedroom illustrates how flexible vintage florals can be. The pink rose wallpaper could have looked rather traditional, but instead it has been combined with black bedding and furniture and a black painted ceiling, taking it in a much edgier direction. The pink from the roses has been picked up as an accent around the room, too, to soften the blacks and grays. Without the wallpaper, this space might feel rather monotone; with it, it looks exciting and feminine.

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