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The art of patterned linen: transforming spaces and styles

Rhoda Parry explores the elegant qualities of printed linen for interior design schemes and discovers creative ways to use them
The art of patterned linen: transforming spaces and styles

Patterned linen was a joyful highlight at Design Week 2024. London’s go-to celebration of interior trends for the coming year and beyond showed that this classic textile is here… and here to stay. Linen fabric in every colour of the rainbow was on show in a delectable array of artful florals, stripes, abstracts and more.


The rise in popularity of patterned linen is thanks to our ongoing love affair with smart-casual living. Just like the patterned linens in fashion right now – from Toast’s popular gingham dress to Boden’s flowing floral wide legs – designers and their wearers are loving the spirited look and comfy feel of this easy-to-live-with and supple fabric. Decorators and homeowners are looking to plain linen’s more gregarious sibling to unlock excitement and layer character in rooms. Shown is Trapeze in Miami from our new Small Prints II range.


Ethical considerations are also worth highlighting. As well as its proven eco credentials, linen is renowned for its exceptional breathability and natural temperature regulation, which makes it ideal for warmer climes.


Come with us to explore the pleasure of patterned linens and why they showcase modern traditional designs so beautifully. Plus, how and where to use them, sew them yourself and take care of them…


The charm of patterned linen 

Linwood Fabric | Small Prints II collection


Unlock the secrets of charming, patterned linens and it is easy to see why they are a key design direction this season. Firstly, they so easily elevate the charisma of a space. Whether your taste is country or urban, contemporary or classical, incorporating a clever combination of story-telling designs throughout a room will add narrative, attitude and character.


Secondly, linen fabric holds pattern beautifully, making it a sure-fire way to enliven soft furnishings with colour and decorative appeal. Focus on linen curtains, Roman blinds, loose covers and upholstery as your primary spots to mix and match the patterns of your choice.


Finally, linen fabrics are imbued with a relaxed and tumbled texture that drapes elegantly and brings an effortless tactile quality to schemes. Look to 100% linens, such as Small Prints II (shown), as well as durable linen blends, for varying weights and weaves that include closely-woven and loose weaves, all available by the metre for any of our stockists.


Patterns in fashion: reviving traditional styles

Linwood | The English Garden | Kitty | Spring Green

It’s long been the case that what’s in vogue in the world of interiors often comes off the back of trend-setting fashion. Latterly, we’ve seen nostalgic country garden florals, archival designs, playful stripes, cobalt blue, and tassels, ruffles and frills all make their way from the catwalk onto our decorating mood boards.


All of these style-worthy looks have a timeless heritage reinterpreted with a modern twist, making them justifiably just right for refreshing and reviving room schemes. Look to linen textiles, such as the Tree of Life, Kitty in Spring Green, from The English Garden collection to reupholster a loveseat or sofa (shown), 17th-century inspired Helter Skelter Slate for smartening up a headboard, the peppy pink and red Croquet Rhubarb to transform an ottoman or footstool, and block print-style Rubia Cobalt as curtains or blinds to frame a beautiful view. Fear not… All these echo the trends but will stand the test of time too.


Linen patterns in home décor

Linwood Fabric | Bibi | Shirin | Rhubarb & Custard


So how do you decide where to use patterned linen in your home? It's the question people always ask.


The design A-listers in any room plan will be window treatments and upholstery fabric, followed by the supporting cast of home accessories. As with an Oscar-winning movie, both play important roles in whether it's a hit. Planning is key. Decide at the outset if you are doing a full room makeover or a light refresh or upgrade. Both can be equally satisfying and fit with the budget you have to hand.


In sitting rooms, patterned fabrics on curtains are the single most impressive way to add a dramatic visual cue for the room. The delightful drape of a 100% linen curtain will also help prevent heat loss and noise pollution.


Upholstery of sofas and occasional chairs, or bespoke loose covers, are also a statement way to include a patterned linen – take note of your existing colourways and use it as inspiration to find a floral, trellis, abstract or motif linen that comes from the same palette. In a dining room or open plan kitchen diner, dining chairs, banquettes and window seats all make good homes for slices of pattern to complement painted walls and doors.


Don’t forget the power of the plain – from cool to bright shades – when designing your scheme. All patterns need a plain to balance and complement the overall design, as shown in the bedroom scheme above. Shirin Rhubarb & Custard is used conservatively on a behind-the-bed fabric panel and on a cushion to contrast beautifully with the plain linen of Currant, Juno on the headboard. This scheme could easily be flipped with Shirin on the headboard.


DIY projects with patterned linen 

Linwood Fabric | Cushions


It’s the finishing touches that can be the most creative and pleasurable. Dust off the sewing machine and create them yourself from leftover remnants and offcuts from previous or current projects. Cushions are always a winner. Consider large and small squares, circles and rectangles. Try backing two patterns from the same palette for an enigmatic effect, or a pattern and a plain if that’s too racy for you. Don’t be afraid to mix large and small scales, again, from the same colour base (as shown here with Kala Pebble and Chitgar Yellow Lichen). Fringes, frills and trims will create a little excitement on the edges. A bolster for the bed or a draught excluder for the door are also pleasing DIY sewing projects.


A homemade table runner or cloth can be the inspirational starting point for a truly unique seasonal tablescape. Choose a blowsy floral, such as Albertine Grey Skies, for a special garden party or a pleasing sunshine yellow check for a family kitchen table, such as Danube Check Mellow. If you don’t have much fabric, make placemats instead. Gathered sink skirts for back kitchens and bathrooms – the look du jour – and roll-down double-sided panel blinds for little windows in powder rooms are also Insta-worthy weekend projects.


The sustainability of patterned linen

Linwood Fabric | Small Prints


Making eco-friendly choices for the home is all-important these days. It’s good to know that linen isn’t just a great-looking textile, but also one of the most inherently sustainable fabrics currently available.


It’s made from the flax plant and, unlike cotton, requires no additional water other than rainwater during the growing phase, can be nurtured in poor soil and is resilient to pests. It’s also pleasing to know that little of the flax plant goes to waste in the manufacture of linen yarn; a common by-product of flax is linseed oil. The resulting linen yarn is strong, which means that it is durable and made to last, but also biodegradable.


Caring for your patterned linen

Linwood Fabric | Small Prints II | High Wire | Allsorts


Linen fabrics can be refreshed on a reasonably regular basis to keep them clean and in quality condition. Follow these tips to keep them looking and smelling good...

Follow the care instructions to ensure your linen fabric stays looking its best.

Vacuum regularly to lift any dust and to keep the fabric looking lively.

Most pure linen fabrics are machine washable so, again, follow the instructions on detergent, temperature and settings. Cushion covers, loose covers and tablecloths tend to become softer and more lived-in with each wash. Allow for up to 3% shrinkage.


Spills and stains on upholstery should be blotted immediately. Seek out the help of a reputable cleaner for anything serious.


    Who would have thought that patterned linen fabric came in so many creative designs, colours and styles? We hope this article has given you the inspiration to transform your home into something truly original and imaginative. Head over to the website to window shop your favourite looks, order free samples and start planning how to incorporate patterned linens into your home for the coming season.