Upgrades in colours, density keep plaid in style

When it comes to decorating with the tartan pattern, less is usually more.
Special to the Star

According to the Scottish Tartans Authority, textile archeologists have unearthed its origins as far back as 3,000 years. Since then, it has marched through the millennia as the iconic pattern of Scots, farmers, lumberjacks, disaffected ’90s grunge teens, bearded baristas and — thanks to Roots — Canadians in general.
The endless options of colour, tone and density resurrect this pattern, again and again — despite its many associations, designers say it can be surprisingly versatile. HGTV calls it a seasonal staple. Plaid, when used in home decor, adds dashes of warmth and complexity to clean, modern interiors.
“Usually (plaid creates) a sort of rustic, cottage feeling,” says Nancy Kurtz, designer at Creating Home.
“Now it’s got a new, casual, sophisticated kind of look — like it’s been upgraded.” Kurtz has spent more than a decade fabricating custom slipcovers, draperies
and soft home furnishings, in addition to renovating and designing interiors, and she says her fondness for plaid partially stems from the fact she’s “not a big floral person.” “I like geometric patterns,” she says. “And I find when a room needs a little bit of a masculine touch, I’ll use plaid for that — a den, basement or library. I find guys don’t mind plaid, so if you’re trying to sell an idea to them, they can see it. ” The visual warmth of plaid creates the snug, homey rooms that we crave in the cooler weather; consider it a 2017 update to last year’s Danish hygge trend. Kurtz brings out her plaid pillows for the holidays each year and, in a collection of cushions, she says plaid plays well with solids and smaller patterns.
“I generally like using uniform colours — a colour that would make them all relate to each other,” Kurtz says. “A background colour in one is a main colour in another. But for a totally eclectic look, you could do anything — kind of like knowing the rules and how to break them.”

Cosy condos
Isabelle Boba, principal at LUX Interior Design, says today’s plaid can be a sophisticated way for Canadians to
“cocoon” in the autumn and winter months. She feels the pattern is a natural progression of the rustic trends — think antlers on the wall, live-edge wood table tops — popping up in urban spaces over the past few years.

Throw pillows and blankets are the primary plaid-bearers, with wallpaper — just one wall, she warns — generally reserved for the very bold. “I would say no more than one plaid (item) per room,” Boba says. “Traditional plaid with the red and the green — that’s off-limits,” she adds. “I think a modern take on plaid is what we’re seeing, especially in the city. We’re doing the white and the greys, in both light and dark tones.” As a design firm that offers its trademarked “Condo Quickie” — a turn-key design package for condo owners — as well as services to condominium developers for their show suites, LUX frequently works in smaller spaces. Many modern condos feature floor-to-ceiling glass and open spaces flooded with natural light, but often with smaller footprints. Use plaid sparingly here, Boba says. “It is a busy pattern and it demands a lot of attention,” she says. “Choose wisely on how you use it and where you use it. In condos, we tend not to go too traditional a lot of times . . .
When you make something look really busy, it tends to look smaller.” Feeling bold? Consider yourself a daring original? Boba’s already mocked up a dramatic powder room in her mind. “The only way I’d do an entire room with plaid wallpaper would be in a small powder bathroom,” she says. “It could be very dramatic. In a powder bathroom, you can really take some risks because it’s such a small space — if you get sick of it in a year or two, it’s not a big deal to change it up.” She’d pair the plaid — favouring whites and greys, again — with a rustic, live-edge wood countertop, a clean, white, vessel sink and an oval mirror with a very thin frame.
“I could see that looking really dramatic and I haven’t really seen that come up yet, but it will — trust me.”

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