From room revamps to a touch of spring blossom, Sam Wylie-Harris reveals how to say it with flowers this season.
From romantic accents and blossoming bouquets, to meadow flowers and ferns, strong floral interiors are making a welcome return – and this time round, you can really go to town.
Clash patterns and combine florals within a room, using different scales, shades and prints. Or take it ‘one stem at a time’ so you have something beautiful and timeless you can grow into.
And if you haven’t got the memo yet: Laura Ashley is back. The design led British heritage brand has drawn on its vast archive to launch a new home collection in partnership with Next, that’s bold with pattern and colour, redefined for the modern era.
PICTURED ABOVE: Laura Ashley Tapestry Floral Wallpaper, Dark Seaspray, Tapestry Floral Pencil Pleat Curtains, Laura Ashley furniture and other items from a selection, Next | PA Photo/Laura Ashley
“The collection is a real mix of our ‘family favourites’, signature prints and styles we know the customer loves,” says Helen Ashmore, head of design at Laura Ashley.
Think Seventies and Eighties florals and country charm, and traditional Laura Ashley mixed in with “some new, elegant designs that resonate with our heritage”.
Within the collection are three key floral looks – Tapestry Floral, Magnolia Grove and Parterre – and it won’t take much persuasion to find a print that’s right for you.
Displaying depth and volume, Tapestry Floral is the headline pattern, bursting with colour. “We found a really old, traditional tapestry fabric in the archives and reworked it, modernised it, played with the scale and colour tones, so beautiful seaspray blues mixed with delicate blush pink for a really soft, contemporary edge,” explains Ashmore.
Wall-to-wall wallpaper with matching curtains (also enjoying a revival) is an option if you’re going full bloom. Or a quick way to update a space is to introduce this striking pattern via a statement headboard for some five-star luxe.
“This pattern takes scale beautifully, and our made-to-order headboard can be matched with crisp white bed linen for a lovely, rich, hotel feel,” suggest Ashmore.
“You can then layer up soft grey throws on the bed, and I’d use the print again, but on a smaller scale, through accent pillowcases. We all dress our beds with six or seven cushions which end up on the floor at bedtime, but that’s how you can layer the pattern up and accessorise with Tapestry.”
Laura Ashley Garrick Headboard in Tapestry Floral, £499-£599; Tapestry Floral Pencil Pleat Curtains, £60-£120 (Laura Ashley furniture and other items from a selection), Next | PA Photo/Laura Ashley
If a palette of pinks and blues isn’t for you, your rooms might benefit from the timeless, natural beauty of Magnolia Grove. “It’s the first signs of spring when magnolia’s on the tree outside, it cheers everybody up,” notes Ashmore. “Such a natural, botanical feel that really works for modern country style interiors.”
Not too dominating, you can put Magnolia with grey or cream sofas, pair it with natural linens and use it to update rustic and farmhouse furniture. As Ashmore points out: “You can take it in all sorts of different directions, and style the pattern alongside lovely pops of green accent cushions to mark the spring-like colour palette, and really change the look through a bit of colour.”
ABOVE LEFT: Laura Ashley Magnolia Grove Eyelet Curtains, £85-£165; Magnolia Grove Wallpaper – Natural, £40 per roll (Laura Ashley furniture and other items from a selection), Next | PA Photo/Laura Ashley
ABOVE RIGHT: Laura Ashley Parterre Wallpaper – Sage, £40 per roll; Parterre Eyelet Curtains, £65-£125 (Laura Ashley furniture and other items from a selection), Next | PA Photo/Laura Ashley
Floral but unfussy, if you want to say it with flowers but in a more formal, hand-tied bouquet sort of way, the sage green Parterre print will flow effortlessly into existing beige schemes. The ‘neutral’ in floral design, it’ll complement natural woods and act like foliage when you scatter sage green cushions on a dove-grey or ivory sofa for the finishing touch.
Also taking their cue from spring’s florals, British design house Woodchip & Magnolia have teamed up with TV and podcast presenter Fearne Cotton to launch the Hope & Bloom Collection – featuring five wallpaper and fabric designs inspired by their favourite season.
“The actual colour palette is very feminine. It’s very light, lots of blues, blush pinks and duck eggs in there, very beautiful and easy to live with,” says Nina Tarnowski, founder and designer for Woodchip & Magnolia.
ABOVE LEFT: Hope and Bloom Navy and Hope and Bloom Dusky Pink wallpaper, both £99 per roll; fabric, £99 per metre, Woodchip & Magnolia | PA Photo/Woodchip & Magnolia x Fearne Cotton
ABOVE RIGHT: Pondering Peonies Duck Egg, £99 per roll (vintage style bedding, part of room set), Woodchip & Magnolia | PA Photo/Woodchip & Magnolia x Fearne Cotton
Showy, joyful prints include Pondering Peonies, which maximises their best-loved bloom in all its boldness but with a retro twist. Available in six colourways – from Duck Egg and Sunny Yellow, to Tangerine and Navy – Tarnowski says it’s got that hint of Seventies “with the oranges and yellows coming through, there’s that kind of edge and touch of rock and roll. It’s our nod to cottagecore, but we’ve called it ‘granny punk’.”
Meanwhile, Hope and Bloom plays up the beauty of wild flowers. “It’s like we’ve picked this bouquet and literally tossed it onto the wallpaper,” says Tarnowski. “I think that’s what I love, it’s got that spontaneous, expressive, kind of chaotic look about it, whereas a lot of florals are quite rigid. All early spring flowers, there’s blossom, hellebores and snow drops – the first things you see poking through the ground – and there’s a fluidness.”
If you’re torn between the different colourways, try picking two and using the paler print to highlight and frame the darker sprays in a dining area, and pull some other colours from the print to tablescape, make matching cushions, or find a vibrant throw rug to funk up the florals.
Vintage Fearne Night Sky Black wallpaper, £99 per roll; velvet fabric, £79 per metre (other items part of room set), Woodchip & Magnolia | PA Photo/Woodchip and Magnolia x Fearne Cotton
Another contender, Vintage Fearne is a ‘refreshing take on fierce botanicals’. And if you’ve been plant-obsessed during the past year, your indoor foliage is about to get a big boost. “That black with the green is so fresh, and there’s some white as well, and with daylight hitting the living room, it’s so powerful and green,” enthuses Tarnowski. “And you can bring all your plants into the scheme. It’s bringing the outside in but with a slight twist.”
And with such a flurry of fauna designed to lift your mood, nobody has to be a wallflower with these looks. “Just go for it,” says Tarnowski. “We’re seeing pattern on the ceiling, we’re seeing it on four walls – just layer and layer.
“That’s why we’re doing quite a number of calming patterns and colours [within the collection]. So be brave with it, ” Tarnowski adds. “It’s what feels right for you, your home, and think of it as an extension of your personality.”
Words by Sam Wylie-Harris, PA