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Confused about the seemingly endless array of home decor prints and patterns out there? Join the club. While it’s a given that everyone knows what stripes or polka dots are, there are plenty of other motifs that have less intuitive names, and can seriously impact a home thanks to their ability to communicate very different aesthetics.
From the French formality of a Toile pattern, to the difference between chevron and herringbone, here’s a complete glossary of common home decor prints and patterns.
Characterized by diamonds and an overlay of intercrossing diagonal lines, this pattern—which originated in 17th Century Scotland and usually considered preppy—is commonly used on things like socks and sweaters, but can also be found in flooring patterns, wallpaper, and home decor fabric.
Characterized by a V-shaped zig-zags, Chevron originated as an insignia used in military or police uniforms to indicate rank or length of service, but has since become a mainstay on fabric and home decor accents. To wit: Italian luxury label is Missoni is synonymous with the pattern.
This interlocking pattern—also known as meander or Greek fret—is a decorative border constructed from a continuous line, shaped into a repeated motif. As its name indicates, it’s commonly used in Greece, and—although it’s often found in architectural details—today it’s used on everything from bedding to barware.
Characterized by repeating squares—usually one that’s colored, one that’s white, and one that’s a blend of them both—Gingham has become synonymous with a summery, country aesthetic when used in home decor.
A V-shaped weaving pattern usually found in tweeds and twill. It differs from chevron by the break at reversal, which makes it resemble a broken zigzag. The pattern is called herringbone because it resembles the skeleton of a herring fish. Apart from fabric, it’s also a super-common wood floor motif.
This common textile pattern is characterized by broken checks or abstract four-pointed shapes, and originated with wool woven in the Scottish Lowlands. It’s used on a variety of materials for both fashion and home decor.
More of a dyeing technique than a pattern, Ikat—which has been around since ancient times— involves dyeing threads before they’re woven into textiles. The result? A slightly boho, often washed out motif that’s a more refined version of tie-dye.
A classic design that works in both traditional and modern interiors, Imperial Trellis is a regal take on geometric shapes, often interlinked. While it can be found anywhere in the home, it’s commonly used for rugs and wallpaper.
The word quatrefoil means “four leaves”—which makes sense given its general four-lobed shapes, not unlike a four-leaf clover.
In the 1920s, London department store called Liberty began to produce miniature floral, paisley and abstract motifs that became known as liberty prints. It’s often used on cotton, and is common both in fashion and home decor.
This tear drop-shaped motif originated in ancient Persia, and has since become one of the most recognizable patterns, used on everything from men’s ties to home decor. Fun fact: In the ’60s, paisley become heavily identified with psychedelic style and the interest in Indian spirituality and culture brought about by the pilgrimage of The Beatles to India in 1968
Scale prints—often called scallop—quite literally resemble fish scales, and is often associated with an art deco aesthetic.
Patterns inspired by the Southwestern landscape and culture usually feature shades of turquoise, burnt orange, red, and greens, and have seen immense popularity in both fashion and home decor in recent years.
The official name for plaid, tartans originated in Scotland and woven wool, and—while most look pretty similar—there are thousands of variations. Today, we see the pattern everywhere from skirts to blankets.
This 18th Century classic pattern is usually characterized by its use of pastoral scenes, and is often associated with a “French Country” decor aesthetic. However, in recent years, it’s become popular among hipsters, and used in sleeker, more modern homes.