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How to Design Around Plaid Couches

Debbie King
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Suggests how to design and decorate around plaid couches in three different types of settings: rustic/cabin, cottage, and elegant/traditional.

Plaid couches make a statement, wherever they are. Whether you are going for a rustic outdoors, cozy cottage or traditional elegant feel, the right furniture and accessories draw attention to your couch, while not taking away from its role on center stage.

Are You Up to the Challenge?

While decorating around a plaid couch can pose a bit of a challenge, it can also be a fun way to stretch your creativity and imagination.

For instance, the use of solids versus prints in surrounding furniture and accessories can alter the mood of your space dramatically. Print throw pillows or multicolored rugs that pick up the secondary colors in the couch lift the energy of the room to a new level. Neutral-toned pillows and rugs -- beige, cream, gray -- tone down the plaid and create a more calming effect.

Rough It Up a Bit

Couches upholstered with wool tartan plaids, that is, plaids that represent one of the former clans of Scotland, typically create a bright, bold statement. You can easily envision a red tartan plaid couch in a cozy log cabin with a blazing fire in the stone fireplace.

To create a rustic ambiance, start by painting an accent wall with one of the colors of your couch. Add rustic-style wood furniture in pine, walnut or oak, such as a trunk-styled coffee table or an end table sculptured from a tree trunk. Lamps, lampshades, shelves and frames made of unfinished wood, wicker, burlap or muslin create a warm, welcoming feel.

Layer a hardwood floor with an animal-skin or animal-patterned rug. Envision a zebra rug with a black-and-white tartan couch. Adorn your couch with bright prints, plaid or muslin throw pillows and top it off with a soft wool or tweed throw for an added layer of warm and cozy.

Some ideas for creating accessories to support your tartan couch:

  • Paint wood picture frames using one or two colors from your couch.
  • String pine cones from the ceiling or windows.
  • Paint wicker furniture using one of the secondary colors from your couch.
  • Stitch a bear or moose onto a plain muslin pillow.
  • Place driftwood pieces on the fireplace or fill a bowl with pine cones, seed pods, and other objects from nature. Slice a tree branch for coasters.
  • For the holidays, hang ornaments matching the colors in your couch with the stringed pine cones or on your Christmas tree_._

A Cottage by the Sea

Plaid couches in pale or French blues create an especially charming focal point for cottage-style living rooms. But don't count out soft red or light green plaid couches either. White or light-colored walls, paneling, and wood furniture, accented by cotton curtains, create a light, airy feel. Chairs and ottomans upholstered with small prints such as calico or chintz complement soft plaid couches without overwhelming them.

Layer the floor with light-colored rugs. Rugs with a large weave add a touch of country while tight-woven rugs speak more of the beach. Hang or display blue and white china to accent a pale or French blue plaid couch. Enliven the couch with floral or plaid pillows in matching colors. If your couch is a navy-blue plaid, bring in the sea with nautical-themed pillows, a life preserver, rope or wood lanterns, a lighthouse collection or a ship's wheel.

Some ideas for creating accessories to accent your cottage-style couch:

  • Assemble collections of books, ceramic vases, seashells, driftwood or polished glass to create a homey, personal look. Window-pane coffee tables are perfect for displaying shells and other seaside treasures.
  • Paint photo frames white or in the dominant color of your couch.
  • String white twinkle lights around floor plants or from windows for a light, sparkly feel.
  • "Distress" one or two pieces of furniture to create a shabby-chic look.
  • Hang pieces of rope in a lattice pattern and decorate with seashells and beach-combing items.

A Touch of Elegance

Plaid couches can hold their own in elegant settings as well. A soft-colored or even a black-and-white plaid couch brings new life to an otherwise quiet, traditional setting. Neutral-colored walls and carpeting, elegantly draped window treatments in sheer or linen fabric, and mahogany, cherry or rosewood furniture all upgrade a plaid couch.

Add touches of elegance by placing accessories near the couch that are smooth-textured and curved in shape, such as ceramic vases filled with flowers, glass picture frames and silver candleholders. Draping the couch with a soft cashmere throw and adding silk or satin throw pillows transforms an otherwise casual plaid couch into an elegant work of art.

Have Fun!

Above all, have fun choosing decor that keeps your plaid couch on center stage. Don't be afraid to mix elements of any of these three styles to create your own interesting and eclectic look. The diversity of plaids allows for an almost infinite number of possibilities, so allow your creativity and imagination to flow freely.