Floral fabrics and wallpapers - bring flowers into your home

Floral fabrics - bring flowers into your home

If you're a bit iffy about floral fabrics, don't be, because used judiciously a few flowers about the place can make everyone happier. And if the English country house look isn't your thing..well, many contemporary designs allude to flowers in an abstract kind of way.

By Abby Trow
Rebelle by Sonia Rykiel at Lelievre. 100% linen

Try to choose linen, hemp or organic cotton fabrics as they're the most eco-friendly. They're not always that easy to find, but brands to look out for include Nancy Straughan and Vanessa Arbuthnott both of whom use only organic cotton and linen. Pictured above: Rebelle, a riot of colourful blossom, 100 per cent linen, by Sonia Rykiel, available at Lelievre. Around £99 per m.

Should you look around your home and feel in need of some indoor floral cheer, it could be time to buy some fabric and find a skilled local someone with a sewing machine to knock up some new cushion covers, or Roman blinds; or if you have an old chair why not give it a new lease of life by getting it covered in a fabric you love.  

Wallpapers too can make you like a room a whole lot more. I can vouch for this as we recently papered the back wall of our bedroom with Knowle & Christou's hand-blocked Crabapple paper in a soft pinky/mauve colour...the paper was expensive (I saved up for it..), but we did the papering ourselves (not too badly considering we were novices..) and I'm delighted with it. I thought hated wallpaper but I was wrong. I adore this paper and find it's made me like our bedroom again.

Floral patterns have various associations - tight repetitive patterns that filled pre-war homes; or far grander, the English country house look perfected by Colefax & Fowler. The latter is a company that's very much alive and well and doing florals beautifully, but many other brands have captured out imagination with more contemporary, abstract floral designs.

Bluebellgray, based in Glasgow, brings us painterly flowers in lovely washed out colourways, and they print designs on 100% linen, as does Knowles & Christou, which has a showroom in London's Lots Road by Chelsea Harbour Design Centre. The latter has patterns such as Ikebana and Crabapple which are subtle, interesting designs that bring a touch of nature indoors. The linens and hand-blocked wallpapers are made in the UK. 

Confetti, organic cotton or linen fabric by the metre from UK designer Nancy Straughan. Cotton £25 per m, linen £40
Crabapple hand-blocked wallpaper from Knowles & Christou. The design is also printed on 100 per cent linen.
Mutine linen fabric by Sonia Rykiel at Lelievre comes in several colourways. It looks like tightly packed blossom
Burgundy dot linen fabric from The Linen Works, on sale at £12 per metre. Great for cushion covers, table runners etc
Linen lampshade by textile designer Emma Purdie, printed in Devon. £85. www.emmapurdie.co.uk
Imogen Heath's Dahlia linen fabric is bright, modern and fun.
Knowle & Christou's Ikebana design comes as hand blocked wallpaper or printed on fabric including linen
Vanessa Arbuthnott's Dandelion Trellis fabric, £38 per metre, 100% organic cotton
Bluebellgray is the brand to go to for painterly florals on linen

The big fabric companies - Colefax, Zimmer + Rohde, Romo, Osborne & Little, Sanderson - all have delightful floral designs but it's surprisingly hard to find 100 per cent linen in their collections and they don't use organic cotton..grrr.  Many fabrics that say they're linen are in fact a mix of fibres, such as linen and viscose, or linen and polyester, so if you're fastidious about buying fabrics that are biodegradable, then these are problematic. 

So seek out smaller companies or textile designers and check on sites such as notonthehighstreet. Prices for linens vary hugely, but if you're feeling flush, then we love the Rebelle and Mutine pure linen fabrics by Sonia Rykiel at Lelievre - around £99 per metre. They're bold and abstract and make you think of blossom while not actually being floral motifs. 

Organic cotton is really quite hard to find, so your first ports of call for pretty florals should be Vanessa Arbuthnott, whose designs are printed only on organic cotton or linen, and super eco-friendly UK designer Nancy Straughan, whose fabric by the metre comes in organic cotton or organic linen. The former is £25 per m, the latter £40 per m. 

Neisha Crosland has her own distinctive take on florals with soft and subtle colourways and fairly large motifs - some of her designs are printed on fabric that is 90 per cent linen/10 per cent nylon. 

And for a fine selection of classic country house florals, take a look at Bennison, which has pure linen fabrics. But they can be well over £100 per metre...so you might want to start saving.