Winter love letter to plaid


This is my warm and happy place: snuggled under a plaid throw blanket, a steaming cup of coffee in my hands, winter held at bay outside my cottage doors. In my house, it’s plaid season.

Someone asked me once if I was ever going to get over my obsession with plaid. Nope. Plaid is the fabric of my life. It connects me to my roots, my family, my childhood.

It is the classic Pendleton jackets we sold in my parents’ clothing store in Atchison, Kan. It is the skirt I donned daily in Catholic school (which I always tried to roll up, scandalously short, much to the Sisters’ chagrin). It’s the pillows in the corner of the sofa where Maeve and I spoon in and read a story. It’s the bedding I designed for my mom, who lived in the cottage next door for a few precious months at the end of her life.

Mom’s small, cream guest room needed a focal point, and a black watch plaid headboard was just the thing. I added in a mix of menswear fabric pillows in glen plaid, velvet and paisley. Bright white bedding balances the dark, rich fabrics, giving the bed a fresh, classic finish. I love how it turned out.

Each plaid pattern has its own personality and evokes a unique mood. For me, Stuart plaid is the fabric of Christmas, rich and regal and emanating joy. Watch plaid is the warm layer of pillows on my bed, irresistible after a long day of work. Timeless, classic, sophisticated, fun … plaid will always be a celebrated part of my home.

Like any pattern, you can definitely go too far with plaid. So I am a careful curator, partnering it with a mix of menswear fabrics, like paisley, herringbone, pinstripe and hound’s tooth check. You can glam it up by adding in decadent velvet pillows, then enrich the story with a touch of toile or leather.

Plaid blankets add a splash of winter color, rested neatly over the arm of a sofa or draped messily over the corner of a chair. I keep a blanket within arm’s reach everywhere in our cottage, my choice cocoon against the winter chill until the jonquils bloom again.

We have a spoiled golden retriever and two cats who believe our furniture was brought in just for their napping pleasure. Instead of fighting a losing battle, shooing them off over and over again, I now cover my upholstered furniture with washable plaid blankets to protect it from all that pet hair.

In the summer, when it’s time to say goodbye to my plaid, I can’t lock it away in a cabinet. My hearts still needs to see the happy patterns and colors. So I stack my throw blankets atop old baskets next to our hearth, where they wait for plaid season to come once again.

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This column was adapted from Mary Carol Garrity’s blog at www.nellhills.com



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