Decorating: 12 Ways to Weave Tartan into Your Home
This classic Scottish pattern is fantastically versatile, looking country-house classic through to coolly contemporary, as these rooms show
In the 19th century, there was a buzz around romantic Scottish culture, thanks in part to the books of Sir Walter Scott. In 1822, when King George IV visited Scotland, demand for tartan went through the roof and it was made the national dress. Tartans from this period became clan or family specific, but before the 1800s they were regional. This was because tartan designs were created by local weavers for regional tastes, using whatever natural dyes were available in the area.
Tartan has migrated from kilts and clothing to use in a domestic setting, and while rooms that incorporated tartan used to look a little heavy or, at best, ski chalet-ish, today’s interiors use tartan in original, thoughtful ways. Furthermore, tartan is no longer confined to woollen fabric and crops up on all kinds of materials, from cotton to ceramics, in a range of contemporary colours. So why not fall in love with tartan and bring it into your home? It’s time for a Highland fling.
A tartan carpet is not to everyone’s taste, but used confidently and teamed with surprising, exciting furniture and accessories, it can look a wee bit marvellous. Here, the tartan underfoot takes on a glamorous feel, combined with boudoir-style satin bedding and a mirrored cabinet. The rustic, raw plaster walls add a gritty contrast, for a room that’s bold and super sure of itself.
Let your tartan wallpaper call the design shots in a room by teaming it with pieces that pick up on its key colours. Here, a dramatic black bed frame and grey pillows tie in beautifully with the grey and black tartan paper, while the white bedding adds a crisp contrast.
Although traditional tartans feature strong blues, greens and reds, there are plenty of contemporary takes on this classic colour scheme. Try tartan in soft grey or beige, as on this wallpaper, to reference the pattern, but in a subtle way that’s easy to live with.
Upholstery in a tartan fabric looks stylish, bringing a whiff of country-house chic to a room, but without dominating the scheme. Here, a rich blue tartan on the sofa and footstools is teamed with a cobalt blue rug, creating a wash of lush colour against a neutral backdrop.
It’s confined to a cushion, but the tartan fabric on this sofa adds some welcome pattern and seems to unite all the other ingredients in the room, from the throw to the artwork and soft blue upholstery.
So simple, but so effective, this tartan blanket transforms this bedroom. It makes the plain white duvet cover come alive and brings warmth and character to the simple scheme.
Tartan can make friends with all kinds of styles and designs for a fresh, exciting result. This room is a great example of its versatility. A tartan rug sits beneath a classic chesterfield sofa, next to a design classic Bubble chair and in front of some very ‘now’ exposed brickwork. It’s an eclectic, appealing combination.
Tartan wallpaper in rich tones of blue and red will never go unnoticed, but in a small space such as a cloakroom, where you can afford to push the design envelope, it adds mountains of personality.
Tartan is often associated with grown-up schemes – think of a wood-panelled gentlemen’s club or the grand living room in a country estate. It’s a look that can work well today, though, as this beautiful sitting room demonstrates. Rich, dark walls that pick up on the deep blue in the tartan-upholstered chair create a warm atmosphere, while the huge painting adds further classic character and colour.
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This is not a look that many homes could carry off, but the all-out tartan in this living room has to be admired. Only the wooden beams, pale carpet and some floral upholstery interrupt this total tartan takeover.
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