Bloom Time is Back
Bare flowerbeds and dull borders? Forget the garden and let florals bloom inside, Gabrielle Fagan has a surge of petal power ...
Spring and flowers go hand in hand, but this season designs have gone super-natural, with big, bold blooms, tropical foliage and ultra-bright bouquets.
It's partly due to modern techniques making it possible to conjure blooms so pin-point accurate that you feel you can almost pick them, and those advances have helped create sophisticated - but affordable - in-your-face flowery patterns, in vibrant shades which shriek colour and style confidence. If those haven't yet grown on you, choose from the crop of more gentle, romantic, painterly floral effects.
"This season, floral designs have their rightful place as stars in the decor show," says Tricia Guild, founder and creative director of Designers Guild.
"I've always been greatly inspired by flowers and they feature prominently in many of our collections. Historically, floral fabrics at a window are about extending the eye beyond the immediate physical space of the room, and a floral wallpaper on a feature wall can have a similar effect. Both approaches make it possible to create a vision of your very own garden inside your space."
Make your home blooming beautiful and celebrate the great indoors ...
Transport yourself to a tropical landscape, with hothouse flowers in plum and purple shades.
"Tropical flowers, stylised foliage and botanical references first developed in fashion and have crossed over into interiors," says Louise Collis, designer at wallpaper and fabric specialists Harlequin Studio.
"The resurgence of florals injects this season's interior schemes with a sense of optimism and new beginnings, and the strong palette - which can range from vibrant hues through to deep moody shades - is turning heads and giving interiors an extravagance and richness, while at the same time promoting a feeling of sanctuary and escapism."
TIP: Restrict your colour palette to three or four shades, ensuring one is natural, and keep patterns within this group of colours. Keep floors and ceilings neutral and combine colour with lots of white and pattern, to maintain a sense of harmony.
DECOR BOUQUET: Young designer Laura Allen has combined tropical wildlife and lush blooms in her Lemur wallpaper, £125 a roll, Graduate Collection. There's a characteristic Designers Guild elegance about its Shanghai Garden collection, which comes in a gorgeous soft violet. Wallpaper: £79 per 10-metre roll, and fabric: £75 a metre. Accessorise with mauve homeware from Next. A Mauve Floral Platter: £16 (available in stores); Floral Print Cushion: £16; and five Metal Butterfly Plaques: £20.
Throw away the rule book and splash on colour and a variety of patterns, for a wild gypsy look.
"Homeowners are abandoning beige and embracing colour in their lives, and florals are one of the most decorative ways to make an impact," says Nichola McFall, brand manager at The Fabric Box. "We're increasingly seeing a more confident customer making bolder colour choices, and this season sees a real diversity in design, from painterly to ditsy and botanical to abstract.
"For a more bohemian approach, mix up patterns, take some risks and you'll create a funky, uncontrived look that's a world away from play-it-safe traditional chintz."
TIP: If you're using two or more different patterns together, choose prints with varying scales, so designs don't compete for attention and make the room look too busy.
DECOR BOUQUET: Patchwork, prints and splashy blooms combine to great effect in the Colombia bedding collection at Bhs. The Colombia Floral Bedding Set and Multi Columbia Patch Bedding Set both start from £28; and a Colombia Panel Bedspread, £45.
Add to the look with a Blossom Bedside Table, with blooms scattered across a white painted background, £299, Bhs stores. One eye-catching statement piece could be enough to echo the trend, and a small reproduction chair in Romo Zamera fabric, £795, is one of the stunning pieces at A Little Furniture Shop. Treat yourself to a cushion featuring paint-box red blooms; a Fiji Floral Cushion, £12.99, Dobbies stores.
Colour up with bright pink blooms in pretty-as-a-picture shades, from rose, fuschia and cherry blossom to lipstick pink.
"How we use colour in our everyday lives has a big effect on our mood and how we feel about our homes. Replacing a nude lipstick, for example, with a sassy pink one can transform a dull outfit into a glamorous one, and it's the same when you inject colour and pattern into a room," says Sarah Quilliam, head of product design for curtain, blind and shutter specialists, Hillarys.
"Florals are a hardy perennial in interiors and the trend for intensely saturated hues, such a lipstick pink and cerise, bears little resemblance to the washed-shades and delicate sprigs of previous seasons. Painterly style designs are coming through strongly and have less focus on realistic precision, and more on artistic impression, brush strokes and a Monet-style interpretation."
TIP: Hang small panels of wallpaper and form a frame around them to make them look like a work of art; an on-trend way of brightening up a plain wall.
DECOR BOUQUET: Julien Macdonald's used the power of pink for his Exotica Cream/Fuschia Paper, strewn with pink blooms on a white background; £20 a roll, Graham & Brown. For a more moody East-meets-West fusion look, opt for Albany Botanica paper in Margarita Multi, with trailing flowers on a charcoal background; £35 a roll, Wallpaper Direct.
Anchor a pink scheme with a statement piece from Made.com. Its Bouji love seat upholstered in cassis pink is £229. Details count, and a felt 3D-embellished Red And Pink Floral Cushion, £199, Cushlab, certainly has impact (even if you wince at the price).
Alternatively, save the pennies and check out the Gift Wrapped & Gorgeous range, which has a Polly Pink Rose & Taupe Floral Cushion, £25. I love decorative tea light holders, and a group of bright pink Asst Birdcage Tea Light Holders, £4.99 each, Retreat Home, would make the perfect finishing touch.