Interior Design

Frills and ruffles are the latest interiors trend for 2021 – and we're on board

You could say they're licensed to frill...

Frills trend - headboard and bed and pillows
(Image credit: Charlotte Gaisford)

Frills – last on trend in the 1980s – are back in fashion for 2021. Call it post-pandemic nostalgia or a yearning for a simpler (prettier) country life, this is one trend we're predicting will be around for a while. After all, who can resist a ruffle or two?

There is – since you ask – a difference between a frill and a ruffle: a frill is a strip of pleated material used as a decoration or trim, while a ruffle is a gathered strip of fabric used in the same way. Both have that charm of days gone by and many of the new designs include overtly pretty ditsy florals, though we’re also seeing some plains in the mix which is a great alternative for those who don’t want to embrace the sprig.

Scroll down to see our favorite looks. 

See: Interior design trends – top looks for the year ahead

1. The classic frilly armchair

Frills trend in a living room

(Image credit: Salvesen Graham)

Simply picking one key piece of furniture, such as this timeless design, will create a style statement in a living room, bedroom or even bathroom. Or, of course, you could give a charming armchair a new lease of life for with a pretty little flounce of a frill along its bottom edge, picking out an accent color within the fabric for your frill.

Placing a statement piece such as this against a wall that color matches to a part of the pattern gives you total cohesion, as London based interior designers Salvesen Graham have done. They specialize in creating authentic ‘Future Heritage’ interiors – classically beautiful and carefully curated homes with a ‘playful, quintessentially British eye’ which fits this fabulous trend to a tee.

See: How to mix patterns in a room: an interior design masterclass

2. Go for the double frill

Frills trend in a bedroom

Simon Brown Photography for Kit Kemp Design

(Image credit: Kit Kemp)

This swoon worthy dressing table is the epitome of this ruffly look. In fact, this whole room designed by Kit Kemp, complete with the amazing wallpaper from Jean Monro that features in Turnell & Gigon’s showroom pop up is perfection. 

The twin ruffle on the dressing table adds that extra layer of luxury and femininity to this oh-so-pretty scheme. When you find a fabric that you love it always pays to use it elsewhere within the space too.

See: Kit Kemp's interior design tips – a masterclass

3. Add a frill to a lampshade

Frills trend on a lamp

(Image credit: Penny Morrison)

You don’t have to go ‘big’ with this trend – you can keep it small and subtle. What’s fabulous about frills and ruffles is the textural quality they bring to a room, a tactile lamp base when teamed with a pleated lampshade with a contrasting frill on the edge creates a decorative aspect. And, of course, you could add a frill to existing lampshades to give them a boost.

London based renowned interior designer, Penny Morrison explains: ‘Luxury design is all about attention to details; adding a frill may seem a small detail but it can have a huge impact. It  can provide a softness to edges, such as along the bottom of a pelmet or sofa skirt whilst also adding definition if, for example, it is in a contrasting color. Using a frill with a different color in it is a great way to pull together or unify a scheme of several fabrics.’ 

4. Update a bed with a frill

Bedroom - frills trend

(Image credit: Firmdale Hotels)

A frilled cushion or pillow – or a throw with a frilled or scalloped edge – takes a bedroom design from standard to special, and depending on the crispness of the materials you choose, can look elegant or evoke that rustic country appeal that frills are so suited to. 

British printmaker, Molly Mahon, shares her views on this charming look: 'Never have we needed comfort and energy in our homes more than now. I think people are looking for nostalgic, warming pieces and a frilly cushion certainly reminds me of cosy cottage charm. 

'Cushions are a great way to add an immediate pop of color and atmosphere without over committing. But I am a big believer of layering pattern on pattern, color on color. Be brave, now is the time to just go for it!’

See: Cottage decorating ideas – pretty ways to get a charming, characterful look

Frills trend - cushions

(Image credit: Charlotte Gaisford)

5. Add a frilly curtain to add character – and hide clutter

Frills trend in a bathroom

(Image credit: Christopher Drake for Carlos Garcia Interiors)

If you yearn for the British country manor look then you must embrace a ruffle, frill or both. Back in the '80s, a gathered curtain was used to hide the unsightly pipes under a sink and gingham was the popular choice. This delightful ruffly trend has kickstarted this style again and it’s one we rather love. It’s quaint and still manages to hide away those less than desirable, functional features of a space. 

Interior designer, Carlos Garcia divides his time between London and Norfolk and has used it to great effect in both his bathroom and kitchen, we particularly love the frilly curtain around this basin. He explains his design choice, ‘I love a skirted basin in a bathroom. It’s the perfect way to soften edges, adds warmth, allows you to indulge in your favourite fabric and it hides a multitude of sins – the fabric is by Jean Monro.’

See: Country bathroom ideas – family bathrooms and ensuites with a gorgeous rustic look

6. Simplify frills with a plain fabric

Bathroom - frills trend

(Image credit: Annie Sloan)

If you love the idea of using frills and ruffles in your interiors but don’t want to go all out with it, then use it minimally instead. One way to do this is to add a frill to a curtain – or tablecloth – in a plain fabric, rather than a patterned one. 

Sophie Warren-Smith
Contributing Editor

Sophie has been an interior stylist and journalist for over 20 years and has worked for many of the main interior magazines during that time, both in-house and as a freelancer. On the side, as well as being the News Editor for indie magazine, 91, she trained to be a florist in 2019 and launched The Prettiest Posy where she curates beautiful flowers for modern weddings and events. For H&G, she writes features about interior design – and is known for having an eye for a beautiful room.