Last year, I was invited to attend a gala evening in San Francisco, celebrating the opening night of a prestigious antiques show. The invitation recommended festive cocktail attire. The jaded New Yorker in me immediately turned to the safe choice of an LBD (little back dress), possibly dressed up with a few choice accessories. I have several versions hanging in my closet, and they have served me well over the years. And yet.... when I tried them on, all of a sudden these trusted outfits felt stale, boring, and - dare I say it - totally wrong. I turned to the internet, and completely surprised myself by ordering a fifties style multi-colored frock, with an abundant pattern of oversized pansies, strewn on a richly textured emerald ground. My husband, never at a lack for a colorful expression, described it as Lucille Ball on crack. I, however, felt like a million bucks in this joyful bubble of a dress and I have never received so many compliments on an outfit. It has made me completely rethink floral patterns: they feel new and current, and they have the power to add some real oomph to outfits and rooms alike.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the summer of love, which gave birth to the anti-war flower power slogan. This has caused a wonderful resurgence of large and colorful, in-your-face floral renderings with a vintage sixties and seventies feel, for both fashion and interiors. Thinks Gerbera daisies and tulips, poppies and lilies in a bright, primary color palette.
Scale is important with these new florals: bigger is better. Raise your window treatments all the way to ceiling to maximize the potential of these abundant patterns.
Even when working with smaller surfaces, such as roman shades, opt for prints with a larger repeat. The effect will be bold and unusual, and the floral pattern will become the focal point of the room.
Introduce florals that pick up a key accent color to break up the monotony of a minimal space.
An all-white interior can give the necessary breathing room to a floral pattern that has the ability to overpower. This decorating trick will make a traditional print feel fresh and new.
Florals are made for mixing and matching. For beginners: try a gallery wall of blooms in a variety of colors and styles. They will work well together as long as they share a common subject and color palette. Flea markets, yard sales and eBay are perfect places to hunt for vintage art with floral themes
Once you've conquered the gallery wall, move onto to mixing patterns on walls, upholstery, pillows, rugs and throws. Decide on a color palette, and make sure there's a variation in print scale and style.
And for those of you who resist florals because of their inherent saccharine nature: there are wonderful designs with a black background, that tap right into a new cool folk vibe. Dramatic and contemporary, these are most definitely not for shrinking violets!