Being of half Scottish heritage, I think I have plaid in my DNA. My maiden name is MacFarlane and as a kid I remember my dad wearing a bright orange and green tie that was “The MacFarlane Plaid”. My mother joked she thought it was one of the ugliest plaids and that she should have married a Campbell because she much preferred that clan’s dark green and navy plaid.

Plaid, or Tartan actually goes back as far as 100 BC, created by ancient Celtic populations. As early as the Roman conquest of Britain in Julius Caesar’s day, the Celts of Scotland and Ireland wore primitive tartans. Each clan or tribe wore their own unique plaid which was associated with their specific region or district of the country. Your clan’s plaid colors and pattern would quickly identify you as friend or foe. Actually, not unlike the Bloods (red) and Crips (Blue) of today.

I’ve always associated plaid with European country homes, Ralph Lauren, rustic cabins and Christmas like in these images below.






Technically, plaid is really not a trend since it’s been around for centuries but what I have started to see is a new interpretation of plaid. A fresh spin so to speak with updated colors like on this chair I spotted last week at the Boston Design Center.

Fushia plaid chair at Boston Design center

Fushia plaid chair at Boston Design center

I wonder if any of  my clansmen ancestors would have worn fushia plaid even if the dyes were available at the time.

Plaid rugs are becoming very on trend. This is the latest window display at Stark carpet at the Boston Design center.

Stark Carpet

Stark Carpet

Plaids are also on full display at Kravet Fabric with at least a dozen panels displaying plaids in almost every color and size.

Kravet Plaid Fabrics

Kravet Plaid Fabrics

Plaid is one of those prints that has a lot of personality so if you really love it take a look at this room done by Anthony Baratta.

Anthony Baratta

Anthony Baratta

A more subtle way to bring in plaid is to use it on the floor like in this fresh and airy beach house designed by Victoria Hagan.

issa Cullman

Victoria Hagan

Using plaid on a piece of furniture is also a fun way to bring in plaid without too much of a commitment.

BHS design

BHS design


Also, don’t forget about pillows and accessories as a way to add a bit of plaid.


Since this post is about plaid I want to share with you one of my most coveted possessions. This tiny book entitled Scottish Clans and Their Tartans has been passed down the generations and has ended up with me. It is so old that there is no publish date on it. My great grandfather’s name is written on the inside in pencil but it might go back even farther.

clan book 3

The book gives a brief history of all the Scottish clans with their corresponding plaid. Here is my ancestral plaid on the left and my late mother’s favorite, the Campbell plaid on the right.


I agree that the MacFarlane plaid isn’t for everyone but at least it makes a statement!

How about you? What do you think of the return of plaid?


Linda Holt | Interior Designer & iPhone Coach

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