We (as a people) have a serious love/hate session with plaid every decade or so. Here's how it usually works. Somebody decides that it's actually a nice pattern and puts it on some things. Because it is intrinsically nice, it catches on, becomes trendy, and we put it on everything. Then we decide it's too hipster, too country, too grunge, too fill-in-the-blank and hate it for a while. Repeat.
Right now? We are currently in the rediscovery phase.
Let’s set the record straight before we continue. The gorgeous, multicolored, woven pattern we are about to explore here is called tartan everywhere else in the world. Because we in America like to be special, we call it plaid. But, when you say plaid in Scotland (where the pattern essentially comes from), you are simply referring to that rectangular piece of cloth (think: shawl) that fancy Scottish men drape over their shoulders as part of their kilt ensemble.
Either way, tartan/plaid is a pattern style that originated from Scotland. Different tailors made different tartans based on preference and color availability in the region.
It wasn't until the mid-19th century that clans starting laying claim to certain tartans and things got territorial. There were battles and all kinds of fake rules about who could wear what tartan where. In 2008, the Scottish Parliament had to start a registry so that there was official documentation of what tartan belonged to which family. Yes, there is an official Scottish Register of Tartans and it has thousands of registered tartans — with about 150 new patterns being registered every year. But, it's also hard to say how serious this can all be when the Obamas and Hello Kitty have registered tartans.
Anyways, back to America. So we call the interlocking pattern a plaid. In our world, all tartans are plaids but not all plaids are tartans. Still with me? Plaid, is simply the umbrella pattern under which madras, gingham, checkers, houndstooth, and (you guessed it) tartan fall!
Now that we’re all straight, let's see what options are out there for us in the home design world.
Hanan Plaid Throw Pillows
Exhibit number one: See how not all plaid pillows need to look like they belong in Santa's house? These warm and cozy pillows would be a great fit in a home of any style.
Pendleton Machine Washable Ivory Plaid Contempo Blanket
Pendelton is actually one of the first companies to really make bank off plaid in the states. You know what though? Don't care because I can't say I've ever met a Pendelton I did not like.
Buy Surya Plaid Modern 2’ x 3’ Accent Rug in Navy/Eggplant
It is important to remember that plaid doesn't always have to be evenly-sized boxes.
Black and White Watercolor Check Removable Wallpaper
Most plaids rely on rigid lines. Which is why this wallpaper has a nice whimsicality to it.
Grommet Grid Stitched Linen Blend Plaid & Check Semi-Sheer Curtain Panels
No matter how simple the plaid, the pattern always seems like a good way to add texutre to a room.
Plaid Coir Doormat (18”x30”) – Hearth & Hand™ with Magnolia
This mat boils it down to the purest essence of plaid.
If you have a fairly simple color scheme going in a room, a little plaid can be a great way to spice things up.
Kitchen Towel Set of 2 Black/White Plaid – Hearth & Hand™ with Magnolia
These towels make me want to make a roast. Sometimes, plaid can have that domestic effect on me.
Ebern Designs Morello Flange Edge Pouf Ottoman with Cushion
Plaids can come off as being very stern and regal. But, this playful take would be great in a kids room or any modern home.
Jonesport 18” Napkins
Not really ready to dive head first into plaid? Maybe start with something simple like a set of napkins.
Vandarllin Long Fabric Bath Shower Curtain, Rustic Red Black Buffalo Check Plaid Pattern
Then again, if you are ready to go all in...this isn't a bad choice. Buffalo plaid will forever be one of the coolest patterns to me.
Exploded Plaid Tablecloth White/Silver
Here is another subtle way to dip your toe into plaid. The barely-there pattern adds depth without being to jarring.
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