Gone are the days when tartan was all about ‘clans’, Scottish heritage, swirling kilts and cosy shawls!
That soothing blend of vertical and horizontal lines, in a multitude of colour combinations, has become the fabric of choice for everything from haute couture to household cushions. Traditionally, it is a weave associated with hardy woollen material, but that too is far from true in modern interior design – as tartan appears in all forms of materials! It’s even possible to buy wall coverings or panels that feature tartan-inspired designs, and to buy furniture upholstered in its distinctive parallel patterns.
Weaving household magic from tartan
Tartan is a wonderfully versatile choice for home furnishings, and globally popular (in the US it’s often referred to as ‘plaid’). One of the reasons for its growing use is the huge variation in colour combinations now available.
Another reason for its increasing popularity in decors is the fact that tartan can blend perfectly into any interior design theme. For example, you could choose a traditional tartan weave to complement rustic bedroom furniture, or opt for a more contemporary mixture of shades and geometric lines for a modern bedroom theme. Even ancient tartan designs illustrate the versatility in its spacing, design and colouring. The Royal Stewart tartan is multi-coloured and dazzling, whereas Black Watch tartan is a more subdued combination of blue, green and black in a more simplistic pattern.
How many variations of tartan are there? Opinions vary, but according to Wikipedia, there could be up to 7,000 different types, with approximately 150 new designs added to that total every year!
The tartan effect
Even if you have no ‘clan tartan’ of your own, or even the remotest connection with Scotland, tartan can be a wonderfully eye-catching addition to interior designs. There is something soothing about those symmetrical lines, repeated blocks and often bold colours.
Used against the backdrop of farmhouse living room furniture, it’s possible to use tartan to make your family space reminiscent of a baronial home in the Scottish Highlands; solid, dependable and welcoming. Tartan and leather looking amazing together!
Tartan accents are also a great way of echo the strong lines of solid wood office furniture, and it’s possible to find weaves that match corporate brand identities, or that simply make offices look smart and dependable.
Tips on using Tartan
A word of caution though, as this interior design choice tends to be on the ‘busy’ side having a lot of different weaves and colour combinations in your room can be a little overwhelming! For example, if you’re going to choose tartan furniture, creating solid colours on walls and accompanying fabrics can show off the central pieces to best effect.
Or, for tartan-clad walls or feature panels, you could select the simplicity of farmhouse dining room furniture and a traditional fireplace, to create a warm and calming room.
Tartan can be used more freely and in different patterns and colours if you restrict it to cushions and smaller items. It’s a great way to spruce up and refresh a plain living room for example. This is particularly true if you find tartan room accessories with motifs, most commonly a cheery little Scottie Dog!
In dining areas and bedrooms, you can match the colours in your tartan weave to plain household fabrics or paint, to create a cohesive design for your room. Tartan cushions in the right colours can easily sit alongside spots, stripes and other patterns, in rustic or electric rooms. Or, you could choose one traditional weave in bold primary colours, to create a strong impression. For example, in a red dining room, red and green tartan tableware on a rustic farmhouse plank dining room set can look amazing.
It’s been around for thousands of years, and never goes out of fashion, so tartan is certainly a wonderfully creative interior design option that will stand the test of time!