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Spring is on the horizon, if painfully slowly. Our gardens will soon be blooming, and in addition to fresh cut flowers on our table, using floral patterns in decorating is fresh. The trick is how to use this timeless design without making it feel like your grandmother’s room.

When using florals, there are some things to keep in mind like the backgrounds in which the print is placed, scale, complementary patterns, and color.

In general, the modern way to use floral patterns is smaller prints and strategically placed. French country chic or minimalist styles are easy to achieve. In addition, Asian floral patterns, such as cherry blossoms and lotus flowers, are lovely and can be elegant in upholstery as well as wallpaper. These are classic and like animal prints, never go out of style.

Many people avoid the use of flowers in decorating because too much is well, too much, and it can be confusing what to pair them with. Floral patterns can complement plaids, stripes, small polka dots, and checks as well as solids. Just keep in mind that with a large scale floral the plaids, checks or stripes should be small in scale. Pinstripes and small checks will be perceived as a solid color from a distance. Use the colors from the floral when choosing your stripe colors. You can also use the background color in the floral as your wall color.

The trick when mixing patterns is to choose one that will be dominant (larger scale) and the rest subservient to the larger one. You will create chaos, not to mention the sin of bad taste, if you place a large-scale floral next to another large scale floral. Your eye doesn’t know where to go. If you want to use two florals, make one a smaller print to create a more harmonious relationship.

Another tip is to use the same prints in inverted colors. Most fabrics come in multiple colorways and choosing one in each color and using both in the same room can be fun.

Another way to use florals successfully is by mixing textures. Alternate the use of silk, linen, cotton prints and velvets, using color to tie them together.

Obviously, if you just want a touch of flowers, you can simply use pillows to bring in that aesthetic. Pick out an accent color from the fabric to use on pillows and accessories.

Since florals can be considered “feminine,” trying pairing it with more “masculine” pieces, such as leather. Equally, you can mute the effect by combining it with neutral solids.

The placement of the floral in the room is also very important. The pattern on a large sofa or large chair makes a bold statement. So, I would use a solid on the sofa and then you could use a bold floral on a fabulous big chair. Equally, you can combine a small scale floral chair with a large scale graphic print rug.

Window treatments are a wonderful place to use florals. The pattern tends to soften among the folds and pleats and looks less prominent there.

With the coming of spring, bring some floral prints into your home decorating and you will be instantly cheered!

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Deborah Macdonald is the owner of Textured Design Napa. Contact her at 707-255-0246, Deborah@textureddesignnapa.com, www.textureddesignnapa.com.

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