A red plaid blanket scarf that my daughter pulls out every winter renews my love of the classic pattern because it epitomizes cozy warmth. “The use of plaid as a trim, tree and mantel décor, or on an accessory piece, is a wonderful way to help create a welcoming and comfortable feeling for family and friends at Christmastime,” explains Ursula Hanavan, owner of Interiors & Designs by Ursula in Ridgefield. “Christmas plaids come in many wonderful colors and sizes, ranging from black watch plaid to a more transitional plaid involving lighter, neutral tones and metallic.” Black watch is more casual when surrounded by fir trees, wooden reindeer, and a few clementines, but it can be formal by adding metallic gold into the greenery running down the center of your dining table, a few plaid napkins, and gold-rimmed wine glasses, according to Ursula.
Debbie Taiyanides, co-owner of Giorgio’s Upholstery Interior Decorating in Norwalk, observes that red and green plaid are popular holiday décor because they’re traditional Christmas colors. “Plaid has a relaxed, cozy style, but it can be sophisticated by the contents of the fabric, such as silks, wool and sheers. You can add silver and gold with shimmer tweeds that have metallic undertones,” says Debbie. “Plaid helps pull in other colors that already exist in the room. It’s usually accent patterns to other pieces of furniture in the room.”
For glamour, Ursula pairs solids or small patterns with subdued plaids of champagne, ivory, gold, or gray. “You can add accessories in white and silver, such as metallic-finished trees, reindeer dipped in glitter, and mercury glass candle holders,” she says.
Susan Buzaid, owner of Olley Court in Ridgefield, encourages homeowners to think outside the red and green color scheme and experiment with other combinations. “Many beautiful plaids feature aqua and gold, purple and raspberry, chocolate and pale green. I mix plaids with chunky linens, Tibetan lamb, sumptuous cashmere, and velvet,” says Susan, who uses plaid to make an organic-inspired seasonal statement. “Bring in pieces from nature — use real moss, paperwhites and amaryllis for drama. Use an unexpected plaid color, not traditional red and green, as a throw pillow or tablecloth, with natural elements mixed in. Layer the cloth with natural linen napkins, black or dark navy plates, glassware with a hint of gold or silver, modern quartz napkin holders, tall wood candleholders.”
Susan notes that plaid can be used in modern settings and country homes. “There are stunning plaid rugs that can be layered with cowhide rugs. You can place a luxurious cashmere plaid over a sofa or chair or across the guest room bed. It can also be an accent when used sparsely as a throw pillow, napkins, or ribbon tied on brown paper-wrapped packages.”
Interior designer Paula Vinci, of Roth Fabric Showroom in Norwalk, concurs that Christmas themes shouldn’t be locked into red and green. “Purples and turquoise have become popular. Plaids usually have three or more colors in the weave, leaving you many options for pairing with solid colors. As long as the scale of the design isn’t the same, you can blend a few plaids,” Paula says. “Plaid ribbon can be used in table decorations or on a throw blanket for a chair by the fire. You can loosely tie a plaid scarf around a sled or highlight it on bedding in a guest room.”
Plaid looks great as window drapery, too, Paula adds, noting that black and white plaid provides a contemporary feel, and satin or gold lamé adds sophistication to a tablecloth or table runner. “It gives you a warm, nostalgic feeling like wearing plaid flannel PJs,” she says.
Cathy Clemente, manager of The Barn in Bridgeport, helps customers select vibrant plaid fabric for tablecloths, table runners, placemats, and pillows. “Plaids give any room a traditional warm, cozy feeling,” she observes. “Plaids can have a few colors and be subtle or many colors and be bold. Mixing and matching solids with plaids creates a nice contrast.” Cathy suggests pulling a color out of the plaid to make the room flow. “If the plaid is only red and green, gold is a good color to add as a contrast,” she says. “Consider topping a plaid tablecloth with a solid placemat, or put a larger plaid together with a smaller plaid if they share similar colors.
When Lisa Friedman, owner of Lisa Friedman Design in Westport, thinks about Christmas, she thinks of warmth, family and tradition. “Plaid provides a classic aura to a room, creating the spirit of the season,” she says, defining plaid as handsome and sophisticated. “Designer Ralph Lauren comes to mind. The way we refine it is to keep the palette pure and the lines clean with tasteful touches of metallic for a contemporary feel.” Whether using plaid on a small or large scale, Lisa advises keeping balance and symmetry in the room. “It’s about focusing on the depth of the colors and the careful layering of different textures to create a good flow and balance in the room.”
She offers some ideas for holiday décor. “Put some fabulous plaid throw pillows on any seating that you take out for the holiday season, or add a warm cashmere throw to complement the pillows and create a luxurious holiday vibe. Or place a plaid area rug by your front door with some metallic thread running through it. This helps create the Christmas spirit in a subtle, sophisticated way,” she says. She also suggests adding a beaded or metallic trim on a pillow or a throw to transition it into a holiday treasure. “The whole idea is to have subtle touches integrated into your home that can be used year-round,” Lisa says.