Cheerful and nostalgic in equal measure, it’s the graphic boldness of gingham which has prompted it’s return to the interior fore. From sofas to armchairs, curtains to footstools, this ‘cottagecore’ fabric has found a new lease of life. Having launched a whole collection full of bold, oversized checks, interior designer Nicole Salvesen explains further why the revival of gingham is so timely: “Gingham is one of those enduring patterns that always feels timeless and classic, which means it also feels quite reassuring when used in an interior – it’s just what people are looking for right now. It’s versatile, too – with our Great Check design, we have increased the scale to help it feel a bit more graphic and fresher, while every colourway also has three tones to it, which helps it to work with other fabrics and patterns in the scheme. Gingham looks best styled with multicoloured florals or it works beautifully against vivid pieces, too, like lacquer lamps, to make it feel more current.”
Gingham Vs. Check
You might hear plenty of designers refer to gingham as a check, which is strictly speaking, correct. However, that’s not to get it confused with myriad other forms of check which exist out there, including:
Buffalo Check – originally worn by lumberjacks due to its visibility, this large two-toned pattern resembles your household checkerboard.
Shepherd’s Check – almost resembling gingham, this one is easily distinguished by its twill weave.
Graph Check – pattern consists of pencil thin, single-coloured lines that cross evenly, forming individual squares. It’s similar to both windowpane check and tattersall.
Nor is it right to confuse gingham with plaid, which comes in multiple versions, too, including Prince of Wales and traditional tartan.
How To Use It…
Sofas & Armchairs
Bridging the gap between heritage and contemporary design and modern, the experts will tell you gingham looks freshest when juxtaposed with earthy terracotta, clay pink, ochre and apricot — in fact, the more sunshine hued and spring-like, the better. “Archive prints and reissued classics are a major interior trend as their familiarity evokes warm nostalgia, especially around our homes,” says Laura Bernard, buying & merchandising manager for Arlo & Jacob. If you’re keen to style a gingham sofa or armchair, Laura suggests styling it with apricot or ochre as the perfect contrast to gingham's bold simplicity. “When it comes to making an impact, nothing compares to adding prints to your scheme. The best take on gingham is placing it against high-tech resin, pop plastic or rich earthy hues. Rather than being a twee, it’s the boldness of this print and striking colours that will make a real impact.” Alternatively, follow furniture brand Ceraudo’s lead, and add ruffles to an existing upholstered chair.
A footstool or an ottoman is often an underappreciated staple in any living space – plus, it’s a multipurpose gem: it can be used as a coffee table, functional for a sofa, or for space-saving storage. As the Ceraudo team explain: “[Pieces like] our Carlotta ottoman are a great alternative to the classic coffee table but will be equally at home at the end of your bed. They work just as well as a perch for your guests or a home for your favourite books and candles. The fabric [we use] is 100% woven Indian cotton and has been fire treated (for domestic interiors). We also offer a choice of trim and the option of fixed or loose upholstery.” In true versatile fashion, Ceraudo’s loose covers are removable for dry cleaning, and can be replaced with a new design when you feel like refreshing the design.
Designer Sarah Peake, of the London-based Studio Peake, suggests it’s well worth incorporating gingham into your home through your curtains – especially the linings. That way, when seen from the outside, the contrast lining adds an element of surprise, plus it plays well with other patterns and colours, making it easier to mix and match with existing upholstery. It’s also a useful device if you’ve used bolder, graphic gingham touches through your accessories, to help tie the scheme together. Equally, use gingham as the main fabric for curtains in an otherwise minimalist space to create a statement feature.
When it comes to using gingham on your walls, the experts agree scale and shade are key. “A neutral design is the perfect base for adding more personality through home accessories,” advise the team from Fabrics & Papers. “It's adaptable, contemporary, and calming. Plus, collectables, art, and bold colours work exceedingly well with this palette. Otherwise, continuing the neutral scheme creates a clean, minimal, no-fuss interior.” If a statement look is more your style, the team has this to say: “The size of the design means it can be used as a statement feature wall or throughout the room. When using it on one wall, match it with white paint to make it stand out. Otherwise, use a colour from the pattern for a more powerful effect.”
From tablecloths to cushions, there are multiple ways to introduce a hint of gingham into your interior, without creating a defining statement. Luisa Beccaria's blue and white tablecloth offers a touch of the designer’s signature winsome aesthetic. Made in Italy from cotton poplin, it also features a white crotchet-lace insert that ruches the perimeter. Use it as the foundation for an alfresco tablescape once the weather and outdoor socialising returns. Meanwhile, linen cushions created by Finnish designer Nora Nilsson of Projektityyny will add a whimsical accent to any sofa, chair or bed, with one side coming in a large-scale check print, while the other features a shrunken version.