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Right at Home: Modern botanicals feel like spring

If you followed the spring fashion shows, you noticed floral motifs blooming all over the place.
/ Source: The Associated Press

If you followed the spring fashion shows, you noticed floral motifs blooming all over the place.

Diane Von Furstenberg used feminine pastels. Peter Som used digital florals in over-saturated, intense pigments. Timo Weiland created watery digital prints that floated down the catwalk.

And inspiration from the runway often finds its way into our rooms.

So it's no surprise that in home decor this spring, botanicals are big. You'll find everything from restrained nature motifs to saucy florals, executed in painterly hues, photo prints and pop art graphics.

And while soft goods — bedding, pillows and so on — are where some of the best examples can be found, watch too for upholstered furniture, wallcoverings and tabletop items featuring botanical prints.

San Francisco interior designer Jennifer Bishop loves incorporating botanical patterns, and likes all the modern options.

"This isn't like the past where a botanical garden exploded on your bedspread, drapery and wallpaper," she laughs. "Used as accents, botanicals can become so striking."

Bishop often uses a multicolored print as a launch point for a room's palette. She's a fan of needlework, mentioning Anthropologie's line of sewn lampshades.

She also likes the work of Florida artist Mindy Lighthipe, who makes watercolor, pencil, and pen and ink illustrations of unusual flora, such as exotic plants, insect-nibbled oak leaves and flowering kale. Lighthipe sells on

Shrewsbury, Mass., designers Mitali Seth and Lovisa Shergill showed several interesting botanical print pillows at the recent New York International Gift Fair, including an evocative tree graphic.

"Before going to design school, my college major was botany, so nature always creeps into our collection," says Shergill. The "Trees" pillow was inspired by a scene outside their studio window. "The starkness of the branches against gray skies looked almost poetic," Shergill says.

There's a bolster in the line with a pretty oak leaf repeat, and several other pieces with unusual stylized prints.

Fans of contemporary style will also like the work of Chicago designers Robert Segal and Alicia Rosauer, who returned from four years in Finland with a decidedly Scandinavian aesthetic. For their Unison label, they've designed the Larch bedding set, with tree branches draped across duvets and pillowcases in either a rich bold plum or a subtle yet striking ash gray.

Pottery Barn offers several feminine options in a spring bedding collection that's marked by restful patterns and calming hues. Cherry blossoms bloom on a set by British artist Rosamund James. The Ravenna line is an Art Nouveau-inspired pattern, Giselle draws from an 18th century English print, and Alessandra was inspired by a 250-year-old, hand-blocked French textile.

If you like your bouquets bold, Annie Selke's vibrant, imaginative designs for soft goods retailer Pine Cone Hill include the Erika bedding collection, which features a broad leafy vine in hothouse hues of fuchsia or persimmon on crisp white.

You can wake up every morning in a French Impressionist painting with Urban Outfitters' Woodland Garden rug, duvet, drapery and shower curtain in a joie de vivre palette of paint-box colors.

Garnet Hill pulls the essence of laid-back Cali sunshine into its Catalina bedding collection, with oversize ice-pop blue and coral blooms on an aqua background.

Jason Berke, Target's bath design manager, says overseas scouting trips inspired the retailer's spring florals, which feature exaggerated-scale prints. "The feminine styles and detailing we encountered had a fun play on scale, and placement," he says.

As Jennifer Bishop points out, "Every room needs some form of life. I love to use plants, but if you've got a brown thumb, a botanic pattern just might be your answer."


Sourcebook: - Trees silkscreened pillow, $90 - Catalina collection, $30-$848; Half Moon Bay quilt, $198-298 - Larch bedding, $28-$148 - Woodland Garden duvet, $79 - Sun towels and floral rug, $9.99-$24.99 (April in-store) - Cherry Blossom, $29-129; Alessandra, $39-250; Ravenna, $29-129; Giselle, $49-219 - Erika bedding, $48 and up - Mindy Lighthipe's botanical artwork starts at around $30