5 rules for using florals to keep them looking on trend for 2024, according to an interior designer

Interior designer Sarah Vanrenen shares her wisdom on using floral fabrics and wallpaper in a way that feels fresh and on-trend

(Image credit: Simon Brown/Mike Garlic/Mike Garlic)

'The beauty of florals in a home is that they make a house feel alive: they remind us of the natural world outside and give it that sense of fluidity and movement. The patterns often include greens, too, which is a color I’m always drawn to and crave,' explains designer Sarah Vanrenen.

'I’m attracted to florals in interior design because I love pretty, feminine things. But I think you have to balance them out with something bolder and edgier so that they don’t look too flouncy.'

Sarah always gets the balance spot on, the way she uses florals feels intrinsically whimsical and English but with a bit of an edge – and that's how you keep things interesting and in keeping with current interior design trends.

How to decorate with florals in 2024

'Chintz and florals were so overdone in the 80s that everyone got sick of them; after that, the aesthetic of the 90s was very grey and boring. Now there’s been a full circle and we’re coming back to the floral look.' she explains.

We sat down with Sarah to get all her tips on embracing the joyful pattern in a way that will keep your home looking contemporary. Here's the wisdom she had to offer:

portrait of lady outdoors
Sarah Vanrenen

Sarah Vanrenen is one of the UK’s leading interior designers. She has more than 20 years of industry experience, both on residential and commercial projects in the UK and abroad.

1. Pair with bold geometrical pattern

interior decorated with floral pattern bathroom with floral curtains and armchair

(Image credit: Mike Garlic)

'I actually think florals can create a timeless room when done well. You can make old designs look more contemporary by changing the color palette or scale, which is a theory that I apply both when I’m designing a fabric and planning a room.

One clever way to make a traditional pattern look contemporary is to add a geometric border down the side – it really brings it into the modern day. Stripes are also brilliant to pair with florals for a fresh contrast.'

2. Mix with strong colors

interior decorated with floral pattern hallway with green floral wallpaper

(Image credit: David Parmiter)

'Whenever I’m abroad I visit any flea market I can find, and I always find myself drawn to vintage homewares, particularly vintage fabrics. I love drawing inspiration from the prints and then doing something new with them.

One way to modernize a floral is to go bold with color in other areas of the room. If you have floral wallpaper, for example, go with a bold, bright color on frames and borders to set it off. We often introduce strong pops of color in unexpected places.'

3. Combine cautiously

interior decorated with floral pattern bathroom with blue floral wallpaper

(Image credit: Simon Brown)

'On the whole, I don’t love floral on floral on floral as I think it tires the eye and gets a bit muddled and messy looking. But one way to mix patterns in a room is to change the scale. If the curtains have a big floral pattern, use a small one on the sofa so they don’t melt into one another. It helps balance it out and create a definite line.

A traditional home can look too fuddy-duddy if you just use old-fashioned floral designs. Pair them with modern floral prints, as well as bright colors and sharper lines to keep them fresh.'

4. Don't be afraid to use in modern homes

interior decorated with floral pattern dressing table with floral wallpaper

(Image credit: Mike Garlic)

'Of course, florals work wonderfully in a traditional country house, but they are also brilliant in a sleek city home. I love modern settings, but I do think that without an antique piece and a bit of floral pattern somewhere, they can end up looking a bit clinical.

We recently decorated a city apartment for someone who was downsizing from a big country house that had been full of 80s chintz. We brought some of those patterns into his new place – and that really helped transform it from what was initially a soulless new build into a warm and vibrant home.'

5. Introduce just a touch

interior decorated with floral pattern hallway with green floral crurtain

(Image credit: Simon Brown)

'Accessories, such as curtains, or even something as simple as a cushion or lampshade, are a great place to start adding in pops of floral. There’s no set formula – you can have a play.

There are a few rules, however. Don't put floral cushions on a floral sofa – it’s too much. I’m not one for even using matching cushions, I like odd cushions. I’m over the matchy-matchy look.'

Using florals in the home injects instant vibrancy and a connection to nature, as well as a nod to heritage style (floral patterned fabrics have been around since as early as the 11th century).

Use them with a touch of caution, interestingly play with scale and color, and be mindful of how to pair different designs, and you'll create a timeless and joy-filled interior.

With contributions from