Introducing flamboyant floral designs to your home

Dahlia Cushions - Brompton Finch ( 01803 849332)

Dahlia Cushions - Brompton Finch ( 01803 849332) - Credit: Archant

Interior designer Charlotte Starling shows us how to introduce florals - from flamboyant overblown blooms to delicate ditzy sprigs - into your home

Whether its wallpaper, fabric or ceramics there are endless variations on the flower theme from overblown blooms, to stylised Chinoiserie-style blossoms. It’s hard to talk about florals as a single category because like flowers themselves, each pattern has its own personality, determined by style, size and colour. The one thing they all have in common is they are guaranteed to bring joy and life to a space.

It’s easy to feel intimidated about the right way to introduce florals to your scheme, but there are a few guidelines which will help.

First, take to your garden to find out what type of flowers you respond to most. Work out the colours and shapes you like best.

The scale of the pattern affects the mood of a room. A large print on something small looks contemporary, for example a mid-century chair upholstered in a blowsy poppy print, whereas a cushion with a small ditsy pattern will bring a sweet, vintage feel.

Having floral furniture doesn’t have to look grannyish. Keep it crisp – avoid a skirted bottom on a sofa – and pair it with a graphic rug or a blocky coffee table. Off-setting florals like this will then feel quirky-eclectic. A floral fabric in an unexpected place makes an unusual statement and adds an element of surprise.

If you work with a common colour palette you can pull off a mixture of floral patterns in the same room. The key to pairing prints is using a matching background colour to get a cohesive effect. For example a Chinoiserie patterned rug can be teamed with floral cushions if you choose at least two colours from the rug and a pattern with an open print (lots of visible background colour).

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If you have lots of patterns stick to two or three colours. Too many are difficult to work with. You want to avoid sensory overload, and instead create a feeling of energy. So try to minimise any clutter in the room, as pattern on pattern will work best in an organised space.

Classic flower prints are perfect for those who love an unashamedly feminine, delicate look and the vintage feel they evoke. Tiny buds on a bedside lampshade or a quilt are enchanting. Team these faded vintage small prints with walls painted in muted colour like a dove grey for a more contemporary feel. But floral-style doesn’t always have to be girlie. Choosing prints in large patterns and primary colours lends a modern-art vibe which is generally more male-friendly. Oversized graphic florals will feel fresh and adventurous. Don’t be afraid to let one pattern dominate a room. If you keep clean lines in the furnishings and the rest of the palette neutral, the room will feel warm and welcoming.

Floral wallpaper is the ultimate way to say it with flowers. Whether you go for a whole room or one feature wall, you need to understand how the pattern repeat – the vertical distance from one point on a design until it starts over again – will contribute to the mood of a room. Busy repeats of 15cm or less can be intense, so these will look good on just a single wall. Larger repeats of 30cm or more are less dramatic so can cover four walls and still stay subtle.

If you’re looking for a quieter way to go floral, there are many ways to add a just a small splash of colour. Don’t overlook the loveliness of grouping real flowers in a collection of vintage vases. Try adding a ceramic flower shaped drawer pulls to a chest of drawers, or simply set the table with a plain white cloth and go floral with the place settings.


One to watch…

Velvet & Dash Interiors has recently launched an exquisite collection of hand-painted designs by the renowned fine artist Helen Lloyd-Elliott. Helen, who lives on the Dorset/Somerset border, spent eight years in Asia, designing and creating wallpapers and murals. She can paint anything from a panel to an entire room in a custom pattern – gilded gardens, enchanted scenery, flowers and birds are her speciality. Painted silk, leather and plywood panels are made to order. Framed or boxed panels and screens are also possible. Gold and silver leaf backgrounds or motifs also available. Prices start from £350. For more information visit


About Charlotte

Charlotte Starling is Creative Director of Velvet & Dash Interiors based near Dorchester. A keen supporter of local businesses, she works with Dorset-based designers and artists to offer styling and sourcing services for the home. Find out more at or call 01300 320 657.


Find It, Paint It, Love It with Farrow & Ball

We’ve been seeing a trend at the moment towards people deciding to revive old furniture by giving it a lick of paint. It’s a brilliant way to brighten up a room with colours you might not want to use on your walls. For part of our latest campaign, ‘Find It, Paint It, Love It’, we teamed up with nine designers with various backgrounds and experience within the world of art and interior design. We gave each designer the same brief – find a piece of furniture they would like to decorate and then get creative with Farrow & Ball Estate Eggshell and Full Gloss paint.

Two of the designers, Michael Angove, a practising fine artist and designer, and Fiona Douglas, founder of Bluebellgray, a creative textiles studio specialising in home interiors and accessories, created two very different but equally lovely floral pieces for our campaign.

Michael, who has won awards for his particular style of trompe l’oeil drawing and is recognised for his digital chinoiserie print, used his signature technique of a chest of drawers. With a base of Purbeck Stone Estate Eggshell, Michael’s elegant piece features intricate metallic flowers and plants with a few Yellowcake butterflies dotted about.

Bluebellgray specialise in floral and abstract textiles and Fiona Douglas’ piece illustrates this perfectly. Choosing an old sea chest that had once belonged to her grandfather, Fiona painted the chest in Oval Room Blue Estate Eggshell and went on to decorate it with flowers inspired by memories from his Devon garden.

These two projects are a great illustration of how two very different styles can inspire anyone wanting to brighten up their home this summer by celebrating the trend to bring the outside world in. And you don’t have to be an artist to create an inspirational floral or otherwise piece of painted furniture! We have lots of great ideas and techniques of how to revive your furniture, ranging from the simple to the more complex. You can view all our designers ‘Find It, Paint It, Love It’ pieces of furniture on our website farrow-ball.comHappy painting!

Sarah Cole, Director


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