It’s hard to talk about florals as a single category because, like flowers themselves, each pattern has its own personality, determined by style, size, and color. Floral prints can seem intimidating at first, but once you have a few guidelines, they’re not difficult to work with—and they’re guaranteed to add life and joy to a space. Here are New York City interior designer Sara Gilbane's top pointers.
1. Scale affects mood. A large print on something small looks modern and cool, while a pillow with a mini version of the same pattern would have a sweet, vintage feel.
2. Floral furniture doesn’t have to be granny. It’s all about the details (avoid a skirted bottom on an upholstered piece) and what you pair it with. If you offset a floral sofa with a graphic-border rug or a blocky coffee table, the couch will seem quirky-eclectic rather than Golden Girls.
3. Florals can go anywhere. You have an ornate Oriental rug in the living room: Does that mean floral pillows are out? No. Find a pillow that includes at least two colors from the rug and has an open print (lots of visible background). The common palette will make it work.
4. Mixing florals creates energy. The key to pairing prints is using a matching background color. Choose one large pattern and two small, thumbnail-size patterns that all share a white or off-white background, say, for a cohesive effect.
5. There is such a thing as nongirlie florals. While small prints in faded hues definitely feel feminine, bold florals, especially large patterns and those in vivid primary colors, can take on a modern-art vibe, which is generally more male-friendly.