Plaid adds classic touch without being stuffy

12/28/2013 7:09 AM

12/28/2013 7:09 AM

I’m mad about plaid. This timeless but trendy pattern plays a big role in my home decor every winter, because it’s warm and welcoming and creatively classic without being stuffy. It fits into a winter day like a hot cup of tea, a warm fire and a dog at your feet.

I poured on the plaid when I decorated my house for the holidays this year. But when I box up the decor next week, the plaid will stay in place, an essential part of the wintery mix, until I decorate for spring.

Want to add a punch of plaid to your winter scape? Here are 10 spots:

1. Accent chairs

To cozy up a friend’s lofty living room, I turned to plaid. A large stone fireplace is warm and inviting thanks to the twin plaid wingback chairs that straddle the hearth.

One of the beauties of plaid is that it comes in so many styles and colors you’ll easily find the ones that slip effortlessly into your decor, whether you want something soft and muted, or big and bold. If you want to experiment with pattern in a room, try covering one or two chairs to spice up the space but not engulf it.

2. Seat cushions

When I help folks decorate cozy rooms such as a den or study, I usually suggest including a piece of leather furniture because it’s so rich and classic. But during the winter, leather seats can feel a bit cool. So I like to slipcover the seat cushion in a warm fabric such as plaid. In the spring, you can just slip it off.

3. Sofas

Today’s plaid patterns are fresh and new, the ideal mix of preppy and old school. If you select a sofa covered in a big, bold pattern, balance it out by using more-muted tones on your other pieces. Otherwise, the space will make you dizzy.

4. Accent pillows

Pillows are a good way to get the warmth and charm of plaid without making a big commitment. Pick up a pillow or two that will pull out the colors in your furniture. Or find a fabric that harmonizes yet introduces new color and pattern to the room.

5. Curtains

After years of covering my living room and study windows with simple wooden shutters, I decided to finish out my window treatments by adding drapery panels. I thought long and hard about my fabric choice because I wanted something that brought a new voice to the room, yet was quiet enough I would not grow tired of it. I picked a rich plaid for my study, and I love, love, love how they turned out.

6. Bench cushions

Plaid is gaining popularity with newlyweds and young families, and they are working it into their decor in inventive ways. Anne added a cute-as-a-button cushion to the bench seat in her mud room. Have a bench in your house? Have a simple cushion made to fit it, and cover it in plaid.

7. Outdoor furniture

When it was time to redo my tired outdoor cushions this summer, I picked a vivid blue fabric and edged it in citron. I gave this summery, splashy combo a winter makeover by adding plaid pillows. The bright colors in the pattern tie in the electric blue, but still feel warm and cozy.

8. Throw blankets

Even if my old house wasn’t drafty, I’d add throw blankets to every room, because they look so amazing over the back or arm of a chair. A brilliant plaid blanket pops against the leather chair in my study. I also keep a throw blanket on my outdoor furnishings to wrap up in on days when it’s nice enough to sit outside.

9. Bedding

One of the best ways to warm up your bedding ensemble for winter is to work in some plaid pillows or a duvet. Bedding can be expensive, so you want to pick pieces that will stand the test of time. Nothing does so better than classic plaids.

10. Accents

Anne wrapped books in a gorgeous plaid paper and used them as an intriguing design feature in the bookcase displays in her study. We have featured this fun trick for several years at Nell Hill’s, and everyone loves it. The paper adds texture and color to the tableaux. And if you get tired of the look, just unwrap.

Mary Carol Garrity owns Nell Hill’s stores in Kansas City, Mo., and Atchison. She can be reached at

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