Go big and go home
Supersize patterns for a brave new look
‘Do all the walls, and the ceiling too, if you are feeling brave’
Interior designers like to scale things up. It’s the sign of a confident decorator – someone who isn’t afraid to make a statement and has an assured sense of proportion. For those that really want to go for it, extralarge prints and patterns are the perfect way to create an extralarge impact.
Christine Van der Hurd, whose company Vanderhurd makes carpets and textiles for top interior designers, says her clients often want to take her designs and supersize them. “People are getting bolder, blowing up a smaller design so that it’s not symmetrical or it might get cut off at the edge,” she says.
“These off-centre designs can work incredibly well, and they are often very colourful.” If it all sounds a bit too strong and graphic, she points out that hard outlines can be offset by the manufacturing technique. For a recent rug for the Whitby Hotel in New York, natural wools were overdyed to give a much softer outline to the scheme, “so even though the design is bold, it gets softened by the texture.”
Van der Hurd doesn’t agree that big patterns can only work in big rooms. An overscaled design on the floor “can make a small room like a little jewel. If you’re using a strong pattern, you can balance it out by bringing in solid cushions, maybe have a smaller print on the curtains or blinds, or using more textures instead.”
Successfully mixing huge prints with other objects in the room is easier if you follow the advice of the experts. “You have to be very careful, as it’s easy to make mistakes,” says Ed Godrich, creative director of Godrich Interiors. “We quite often use a patterned fabric in a room multiple times, but in different colourways. It’s a safer way to approach this idea.”
Godrich’s overarching advice is: “If you are considering a big print, then you need not be shy with it. Whatever you do, don’t just do one wall. Do all the walls, and the ceiling too, if you are feeling really brave. Embrace the design and see it like art.”
If you are only courageous enough for one wall, a large-patterned mural might be suitable. Wallpaper company Graham & Brown has introduced some budget-friendly murals that give massive impact. Its Venetian pattern, a blowsy floral on a dark background, was based on a design from the archives; dramatically changing the scale takes it from traditional to ontrend, bringing a sense of playfulness to a scheme.
When installing a mural, “consider where your attention is drawn when y you enter a room, and try to avoid any w windows or doors that could break up the design,” suggests Graham & B Brown’s stylist Paula Taylor. “Also, t think about your furniture and how t this will interact with the wall. A feature mural or oversized pattern can act as a brilliant backdrop, and colours can be coordinated with accessories to create a cohesive ensemble.”
As for other pattern options, this summer’s trend for lush tropical prints is an obvious place to start: life-size banana leaf motifs are ubiquitous, and a cushion or two is an easy update for the sunnier months. A further emerging style is large Seventies-inspired bold graphics with a deco twist. Kirkby Design has worked with south London designers Eley Kishomoto to launch a range that includes Spot on Waves, a wallpaper with rippling stripes punctuated by big flocked dots, which sums up the trend.
For vintage design with a Scandinavian look, invest in Josef Frank’s mid-century designs for Swedish company Svenst Tenn, which are still manufactured. Frank’s work was recently put in the spotlight in an exhibition at London’s Fashion & Textile Museum, introducing his psychedelically colourful fabrics to a wider audience.
The development of wide-width wallpaper has meant that pattern repeats are getting bigger, opening up lots of bold possibilities. Decorating firm Lewis & Wood, which pioneered wider wallpapers more than a decade ago, works with decorative artists to really fulfil the potential of this larger medium. Melissa White’s Bacchus design, for example, was inspired by an Elizabethan wall painting, with painterly scrolls of fruits and foliage, but the scale gives it an unexpected edginess.
Beyond fabrics and wallpapers, there are plenty of other ways to introduce some super-size pattern into the home, from plates to bed linen. Godrich likes to use marble that has large patterns of veining within it, not just on walls and floors in the bathroom but as tabletops elsewhere. Tiles are a brilliant way to get some pattern into the home; look for designs that make an even larger motif once they are laid together, or make up your own, such as a thick zigzag, by blocking together different coloured tiles. Whatever happens, don’t be shy: fortune favours the brave decorator.
Blowsy: Graham & Brown’s Venetian wall mural, above; Graphic wallpaper, below, by Feather