I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but the astrological world recently received a tremendous blow. According to astrologers, the wobbling of the Earth around its axis affected its alignment, causing the zodiac signs to shift. If one were to consult the old astrological chart, there were twelve zodiac signs. According to the new chart, there is now an additional sign: Ophiuchus.
The sign of Ophiuchus – The Serpent Bearer. Image via Wikipedia.
So, one day I’m an optimistic, freedom-loving, good-humored, honest and intellectual Sagittarius. The Earth starts wobbling, and the next thing I know I am an Ophiuchus – poetic, wise, seeker of fame, a beloved of authority, a builder, one whom others envy, one who likes to wear – plaid?
Ophiuchians or Fashion Victims? Image via Google.
Really? A wearer of plaid? Now, I have to tell you, I quite like plaid but I’ve never really been irresistably drawn to it. I am more a fan of the classic houndstooth or herringbone. Nonetheless, this revelation got me thinking. At Corea Sotropa Interior Design, we try to stay ahead of the curve and suddenly, we have a whole new demographic to cater to: Ophiuchian Plaid Fans! Before the calls start pouring in to our office, I thought I’d better do some research.
A Brief History of Plaid: (thank you, Wikipedia!)
Plaid (or tartan, as this pattern is often called) has been around for practically ever. According to the textile historian E. J. W. Barber, the Hallstatt culture, which is linked with ancient Celtic populations and flourished between 400 BCE to 100 BCE, produced tartan-like textiles. Tartan, as we know it today, is not thought to have existed in Scotland before the 16th century. For many centuries, the patterns were loosely associated with the weavers of a particular area but the naming and registration of official clan tartans began in 1815. In 1848, after a trip to the Scottish Highlands, Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert hired an architect to renovate Balmoral Castle. Prince Albert personally took care of the interior design (well, la-ti-da!), where he made great use of plaid. He utilised the red Royal Stewart and the green Hunting Stewart tartans for carpets, while using the Dress Stewart for curtains and upholstery.
Image courtesy of Blogspot
Plaid has remained a popular pattern in interior design and fashion to this day. Though I am not sure my fellow Ophiuchians would agree, I like plaid for that certain masculine preppiness that it brings to a space. I think it possesses that dorky-coolness that screams, “I am so secure in my own style that I can and will upholster in plaid!” I have found examples of plaid used in all corners of the interior design world. I hope you enjoy the tour.
Let’s Start With Walls, Ceilings and Floors:
Plaid wallpaper has been around for a while. Here is a still from one of my favorite shows, Mad Men. Look how Sally Draper effortlessly pulls off the plaid dress next to the plaid wallpaper in their kitchen! Bravo, Sally!
Mad Men Image. Image courtesy of Apartment Therapy.
In a more recent example, HGTV’s Scottish dynamic duo, Colin and Justin, transformed this bedroom using Graham and Brown’s Marcel Wanders “Audrey” Wallcovering. I think the pattern serves to soften and balance the hard lines of the ultra white furniture.
Interior design by Colin & Justin
In this photo, the plaid wallpaper creates a sense of place for hooks and a bench in this mudroom. The busy pattern is a great way to disguise the inevitable nicks and bangs that a high-traffic mudroom or entry will endure.
Image courtesy of Apartment Therapy
Plaid is found not only on walls in the form of wallpaper, but it can be used as a decorative painting technique. Here is an example of a wall featuring a softly coloured and oversized plaid pattern. (Your eyes are not playing tricks on you; that lamp is HUGE!)
Image courtesy of Apartment Therapy
Here is another example of the plaid paint technique. It’s probably a bit simpler to pull off using shades of a single colour. Cute!
Image courtesy of Storibook Designs
Plaid will not be confined to the walls! Here is a lovely kitchen which appeared in an issue of House Beautiful. This gingham-patterned painted ceiling ties in the fresh green accent colour and lends a casual quirkiness to the room.
Interior design by Gideon Mendelson. Image courtesy of House Beautiful.
Speaking of kitchens, check out the use of plaid patterns on backsplashes and floors. The backsplash in the kitchen of San Francisco designer Jay Jeffers’ own home really sets a masculine tone and helps transform this tiny kitchen into something special. Note the subtle variations in the marble (inset) which create that incredible plaid effect.
I love the plaid effect created by the black, gray and white floor tiles in this kitchen designed by Diamond Baratta Design.
Interior design by Diamond Baratta Design
Perhaps plaid tiled floors are too much of a commitment? If so, how about a plaid area rug like the one in this living room designed by Victoria Hagen?
Living room designed by Victoria Hagen (image via The Elegant in the Room)
Plaid on Furniture, Drapery, Lighting and Accessories:
Upholstery and drapes are a great way to add this dynamic pattern into your space. This cozy number would be terrific in a den or office.
Image courtesy of Apartment Therapy
I like the juxtaposition of the soft plaid fabric with the minimal steel frames of these contemporary chairs.
The fun colours of the silk plaid transform the somewhat fussy dining chairs and give an instant energy to the room.
Image courtesy of Traditional Home.
Here is a more sedate version of the plaid dining chair. I think this pattern is a good foil to the formality of this room.
Image (right) courtesy of House Beautiful
Not just for chairs… Plaid is a great way to transform a cabinet or a chest of drawers!
Here is another example of Jay Jeffers’ work. He used a neutral plaid fabric on this upholstered bed which appears in his own bedroom (left) and again in a 2007 San Francisco Decorator Showhome (right).
The slip-covered headboard (at left) is a great way to change it up with the seasons. This simple check would be lovely for spring! And the headboard at right would be fantastic for a bedroom at the cottage – sooo cozy.
Tobi Fairley shows us how to inject plaid into a bedroom without sacrificing sophistication.
Image courtesy of Tobi Fairley
While I am not crazy for the length of these drapes, I love how the navy plaid layers onto the charcoal grass cloth wall covering.
Image courtesy of Decorpad
Check out these bold yellow plaid drapes, a signature of designer Mary Douglas Drysdale.
Image courtesy of Cote de Texas
Here are 2 ideas which incorporate plaid into lighting.
A simple way to inject plaid into your interior is with accessories. In the left image below, the mixture of wool plaid throws lends a bit of colour and warmth to the white paneled hallway of designer Chipper Joseph’s own home in Sun Valley, Idaho. On the right, a collection of blue tartan plates are displayed over this settee, providing visual interest and tying in nicely with the throw pillows.
Below is another example of plaid accent pillows which, when layered with the other patterns in this Manhattan apartment, result in an easy going and eclectic space.
Image courtesy of Casa Sugar
Well, fellow Ophiuchians (and all other plaid enthusiasts), I hope I have offered you some inspiration on your quest to incorporate this fun pattern into your interiors. I have certainly gained a whole new appreciation for plaid with its eye-catching appeal. While I know that I am not one of those cheeky Ophiuchians who is going to run out and buy a plaid suit, I might just use plaid to upholster that little chair in my guest bedroom. I will keep you posted.
That’s my two cents!