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Check it out: New plaids for the home

Au Lit pillows
Assertive checks and stripes are tempered by soft flannel in these pillows from Au Lit.

Plaid continues to enjoy an enduring appeal in both fashion and home décor

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As a tribute to the late, great Vivienne Westwood, I recently acquired a pair of over-sized prescription sunglasses from Specsavers.

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Admiring the spunky red tartan designed by the iconoclastic British designer, two thoughts came to mind — the enduring appeal of plaids, checks, and zigzags in general, and how those patterns cross-pollinate fashion and home décor.

I’ve been fascinated with woven textiles ever since I learned that once upon a time, every Clan Tartan told a geographic tale. That’s because people tended to buy woven cloth from the same local weaver, who would produce a specific pattern based on the colours — mostly from vegetable dyes — that were available in the area, according to the Smithsonian magazine.

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Tartan is a term now used interchangeably with plaid, which originally described a woven cloak or blanket used as outerwear.

The love of these intersecting boxes of colour and lines — accurately described in Bustle magazine as both punk and preppy — lives on.

Current versions vary widely; they can pack a visual punch when used on walls and furniture, or add subtle interest in tonal spaces.

A new blanket from Topsy Farms takes its colour story from the land where the “happy sheep” who provide the wool for it are raised.

The stoney, watery shoreline colours of Lake Ontario is reflected in the subtle pattern of this sustainable luxury blanket, which can last for generations. King, queen, and large throw sizes available.

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In some ways, gingham is just a buttoned-down version of plaid, with a more regular pattern, and with squares of the same size. British brand Piglet in Bed uses it for 100 per cent linen bedding.

Warm blue and mineral red versions instantly brighten a room, while softer mushroom and botanical green shades add a contemporary note to the classic check. These lines are all made in Portugal from European flax.

Ontario-based wallpaper designer Kate Golding makes a wonderful checkerboard pattern with alternating diamond and leaf motifs.

The Botanical Quilt design is especially soothing and friendly in a periwinkle blue colourway.

Made in Montreal, it ships free across Canada and the U.S. Easy to install or remove and reuse on walls, backsplash, cabinet, and bathroom—in both residential and commercial projects.

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Au Lit Fine Linens has plaid and checked pillows for couch or bed in its fall 2023 line-up. There are perky red and crisp navy combinations that have classic appeal, but I like the Donegal Cushion in subtle shades, made from soft Japanese flannel.

It reverses to the same pattern in brushed cotton or solid flannel. Available in a 20- by 20-inch square or a generous 16- by 30-inch bolster size. Another favourite is pillow in a grey and tan windowpane check, made from a blend of baby alpaca and wool.

Checks, plaids, and zig-zags are not confined to textiles. Tiles from Walker Zanger’s Gubi Collection, for example, include some arresting chevron patterns that have an Art Deco-inspired vibe.

At the same time, the stone-like irregularity and weathered finishes — available in four neutrals — adds casual charm.
Graham and Brown has a popular heritage plaid wallpaper pattern in can’t-fail tones of grey and navy, but I’m partial to the version in plummy blues and melon pinks.

It may sound like a bit much, but to me, it continues to show how well colours — sometimes unexpected — can be woven into a cohesive, décor-friendly tale.

Vicky Sanderson is the editor of Around the House. Check her out on Instagram@athwithvicky, Twitter ATHwithVicky and Facebook.com/ATHVicky.ca.

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