Decorating with Rosie Kinsella

Posted 3rd April 2024

Check out those checks!

Decorating using checks is an interesting way to add pattern and colour to your space. Whilst once a staple of traditional or country interiors, the vibrant, edgy look they create coupled with their versatility, enables them to complement both classic and contemporary schemes.

Whatever your look, there’s a colour and scale of check to suit. Whether you have a period property in the countryside or a modern flat in the centre of town, checks will add personality and structure to your home. The geometric nature of the design makes it useful as a tool to balance fussy interiors, juxtaposing an orderly check with a whimsical floral for example, or adding a check as a way of enlivening a neutral scheme that lacks vibrancy and interest.

As with any pattern, it’s critical to ensure that the look of the room stays balanced. Checks can be layered with patterns of a similar scale, so no design stands out over another. This will help your room remain relaxing and welcoming and prevent your eye from being drawn to one dominating feature.

From cushions and curtains to carpets and tiles, there isn’t a room in your house that cannot incorporate a check. For a good selection of checked fabrics have a look at Jane Churchill, Colefax and Fowler, Linwood and Isle Mill. For wallpapers try Sandberg, Ralph Lauren and Designers Guild. The latter has a wonderful range of bright colours and interesting takes on the more traditional checked patterns.

If you like the idea of a checked or plaid carpet then look no further than Hugh MacKay, Brintons and Anta. Together they have a lovely range of tartan and plaid designs to suit most tastes and colour schemes. For the Althorp Coaching Inn in Great Brington we chose the Fermanagh Plaid design from Brintons’ Abbeyglen collection. The orderly nature of its regular stripes form a grid layout, balancing the more fluid Lewis and Wood beech tree wallpaper covering the walls, and the carpet’s warm palette of colours, helped to create a timeless, welcoming and inviting look to the restaurant in this popular 16th Century village inn.

If you don’t think a full-on plaid carpet is for you, then consider a checked rug instead. In a classic English interior this can be as subtle as a gingham pattern in neutral or pastel colours but if you’re happy to consider more of a statement then experiment with bolder, brighter shades. A rug can easily be moved around the house to keep your rooms looking fresh or to give a space a new identity. For example, a bit of contrasting pattern in a clinically clean bathroom or kitchen can provide the perfect finishing touch.

Checks are certainly an enduring pattern and so much more than a passing trend in your Instagram algorithm, but it is these social media sites such as Instagram and Pinterest that expose historic patterns to a new audience and present them in vibrant colours and fun combinations. For Millennials and Generation Z, associated with being trend-savvy and open to new ideas, checks have become a universal motif offering a touch of softness and fun in an otherwise ‘dull and rigid world’. The dropping of many work uniforms during the pandemic further allowed people to dress with more personality and less restriction.

Checkerboard nails have become quite the rage. It’s a well-known fact that once trends appear on the catwalk and permeate fashion on the high street and in the beauty industry, then they tend to follow through into interior design. According to IMM Cologne, searches for checked patterns soared on Pinterest in 2022.

Checkerboard nail searches increased by 165 percent, checkerboard patterns by 160 percent, and requests for plaid suits for men increased by 95 percent. Search terms such as “checkerboard carpet” and “checkerboard tile flooring” more than quadrupled. This suggests that the future of our interiors may well be dominated by checked patterns for some time to come!

Rosie Kinsella
Interior Designer
01604 751262