Today’s modern design is often associated with those clean, crisp lines and lots of grays and neutral colors. But it also comes with its share of flexibility, too. You can give a modern flair to a farmhouse theme, add colorful splashes in midcentury modern environments and find other ways to integrate older elements with the modern in transitional and eclectic settings.
When it comes to floral prints and patterns, it’s easy to pass them off as only being suitable for old cottage styles, shabby chic or vintage grandma’s house themes. You might be surprised at how floral decor — and actual flowers themselves — mesh well with contemporary aesthetics. Here, a few pros offer up some tips on the subject.
Working with real flowers
If you have a modern space and want to integrate real flowers, orchids are great go-to staples, says Juliet Kennedy, owner of the Rose Shack in Las Vegas and a member of BloomNation, a large online marketplace of top local flower shops around the country. The phalaenopsis is a popular white orchid that contrasts nicely against a dark counter or blends in with light materials or fabrics, Kennedy explained
“They’re very monochromatic and go with stainless steel and whites and other monochromatics,” she said.
The florist also recommends white and green roses. Green roses, in particular, offer a subtle splash of color and bring some flexibility. They blend nicely with white or light backgrounds, neutrals, just as a white orchids or white roses would, and also settle in well with darker colors, too. Go ahead and add your vase with orchids or roses to desks, dining tables and kitchen counters, Kennedy says. For something different in a contemporary space, customers even request dyed blue and black roses from time to time.
She also suggests succulents in small pots. Echeveria and hens and chicks, with their white, green and purple colors, add a nice touch to a well-lit environment without making too big of a statement. The florist also likes to add “a huge splash of color” with a tropical arrangement in a tall vase that might have bursts of orange, yellow and green.
“That may not appeal to everyone, but for some, that entryway with a huge pop of color can be very attractive,” she noted. “You can use birds of paradise, pincushions, helveticas. They have a soft touch, make a big statement and last a long time, too.”
Ways to integrate floral decor, art and more
Bree Rothman, the owner of Las Vegas-based Haven Road Interiors and in-house interior designer for locally owned Somers Furniture, loves to incorporate florals into contemporary clean-line looks.
“Florals can fit in absolutely anywhere you want them, whether it’s modern, minimalistic or eclectic. There is always room for them, but the trick is to keep them from looking dated. Pink or other pastel chintz, for example, can put you right back in the ’90s,” she said.
Rothman will sometimes use wall art that has dark, moody florals in what she calls a “fully saturated” look with large rose or peony patterns. With a fully saturated look, you have all-over color in the piece, and she likes darker hues of gray, red and purple to highlight and accent an area with a lot of gray and white.
“Darker, bolder patterns are a great way to add luxury and glamour to a powder room, formal dining room or living room,” she added.
Rothman also will use more clean-line art with a lot of white space, along with dashes of bright whimsical colors, such as yellows, greens, blues and hot pinks, against light-colored walls. For homeowners looking to add floral elements through art, she suggests looking at painters such as post-impressionist Vincent van Gogh or early modernist Marc Chagall for color inspiration.
“I think that early modern and midcentury art offers some amazing color play that still holds value in today’s preferred contemporary look. Follow the amount of different colors used in their paintings to help balance your color at home as well,” the designer said.
She also recommends homeowners add floral to modern or contemporary spaces with subtle patterns in china or dishware, curtains, throw pillows and area rugs. Lampshades with floral patterns can offer a beautiful contrast in a room with a neutral palette, too, without being oversized or taking away from the overall modern aesthetic.
For contemporary bathrooms or kids’ rooms, Rothman also dabbles in bright-colored wildflower wall art or floral patterns in shower curtains.
“In a kid’s room, florals and bright color can also stimulate the child’s mind,” she said.
Psychological impact of florals
Kimberly Joi McDonald, owner and CEO of Designing JOI, an interior design studio in Las Vegas, enjoys incorporating floral elements into modern spaces because it offers an uplifting mental health benefit, she says.
“In design, everything is about enhancing a space and making places conducive to function, creativity, productivity or a calming retreat,” she said. “Flowers elevate mood, reduce stress and those with vivid colors can increase energy and help to bring a brighter outlook.”
In addition to weaving florals into throw pillows, wall art, rugs, accessories and upholstered furniture, McDonald looks for opportunities where a homeowner wants to bring the outdoors into the home. This longtime trend lends itself to incorporating florals and the natural environment. Movable glass walls or retractable glass walls that open to exterior spaces or outdoor patios can highlight flowers in bloom and create harmony that flows between outdoor and indoor environments, she adds.
McDonald also isn’t afraid to use a statement piece in a contemporary environment, such as a dresser with floral patterns on it. Chandeliers are another decor item where floral design may be woven into the metal, iron framing or into crystals. Floral prints in wallpaper and murals are another eye-catching focal point.
“For me, in addition to their aesthetic and vivid beauty, florals in design also evoke positive vibrations and calm as they connect us with nature and Mother Earth, thereby giving us inner peace. … Florals restore calm while complementing your space,” she said.