x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

'The new floral' is less flowery, suiting most any space

How can I make my apartment feminine but not fussy?

Fabrics and delicate prints lend a softer feminine look to the neutral tones of this bedroom.
Fabrics and delicate prints lend a softer feminine look to the neutral tones of this bedroom.

How can I incorporate the new trend for prettiness into my home which, being made up of stark lines and an overall minimalism, is not exactly pretty, feminine or floral? I'd like to give it a new, modish feel without it looking frilly. What's an easy way to do it?

The pretty trend seems very fashion-driven but in fact harks back to a classic interiors look. The difference now is that "the new floral" is less about flowers and chintz and more about a fresh, pretty appeal based on accessories, which is easier than ever to incorporate into most homes.

After being out of fashion for rather a long while, fabrics look hip again; the key is to be careful how you use them. The great thing about fabric is that it adds a softness - but this can also be its downfall. You want a soft, perhaps homely look, not a messy, cluttered look, so use it judiciously. For example, if you go for sweeping curtains, keep the surrounding area tidy and sleek. If you go for throws in pretty prints, use them on a simple sofa.

When done well, curtains are great but it's all too easy to get them wrong. Take advantage of the easy access to curtain makers in the UAE and have them lined and interlined - both stages are key and will make all the difference to how they fall. Get them the right length: make sure they flow onto the floor by a centimetre or two. The simple rule of thumb is that curtains look much better when gently sitting on the floor, not dangling above it.

Wallpaper is also experiencing a comeback, and offers an easy way to explore any trend. You probably don't want prettiness in too heavy a dose, so why not do a single wall (using a single roll, more or less) and paint or decorate the rest of the room in a co-ordinating colour? It takes less than a morning to do and dramatically revives any room.

At Cabbages and Roses we love nothing more than a room in which the walls, curtains and accessories all match but it's a rather definitive look and perhaps not for everyone. If it seems too bold for you, simply pick two elements that echo each other - a delicate sprig print on a cushion and another on a rug, tablecloth or bedspread, for instance. You don't have to match precisely - it could be the same print in different colours. Matching works well if one element is more disposable or temporary and the other is more permanent, for instance, the combination of napkins with a throw. Interestingly, clashing two patterns is actually easier than matching - and it's less of a bold statement when the patterns are understated.

What makes the new love of prettiness stand out is that it is more about prints, patterns and delicate colour. A toile de jouy print is a classic that's back in favour and always looks fresh, in any home of any style.

Pink is surprisingly versatile and doesn't have to be sugary. Soft, powder pinks are lovely and work well with blues, greys and all neutrals.

The new vogue for pretty has a vintage feel but it's muted and elegant and definitely not the cutesy take on vintage of recent years. Think of something more polished and more subdued, an effect that is apparent most in the colours - soft pastels - interesting textures and quirky detail.

For every feminine piece you have, place something simple and spartan in between. This enables you to explore the trend - and have fun with it - while keeping it modern and easy to live with.

Emily Davies was talking to Christina Strutt, an interior decorator, the author of Homemade Vintage (Cico Books) and the founder of Cabbages and Roses: www.cabbagesandroses.com (international shipping available). www.cabbagesandroses.com