tartan fabric on sofa

The influence that tartan has had on interior design

12th May 2022

Tartan is one of our absolute favourite designs here at Cover My Furniture. It’s the perfect choice if you’re looking to put a timeless twist on your sofa and chair covers, with a classical look that’s aged like fine wine. As well as its bold, inviting aesthetic; tartan also boasts quite the history, and is arguably one of the most recognisable patterns available on the market today.

However, one of the most interesting things about tartan is something that’s perhaps not quite obvious at first glance – its history. Tartan’s journey from Scottish clan cloth to interior design darling was fraught with rebellion and royal intervention. Here’s a brief look back at some of the more significant moments in its dramatic history.

Scottish origins

For hundreds of years, tartan was used as the patriotic emblem of the Scottish Highlands. Clansman famously went to war in tartan garb, and the design is perhaps most famously associated with the Scottish rebel William Wallace who was portrayed by Mel Gibson in the historical epic ‘Braveheart’.

Tartan was a staple of Scottish culture until, in the 18th century, it was outlawed after the Jacobite army of Charles Edward Stuart was decisively defeated by a British government force at the battle of Culloden in 1746. Thereafter, the pattern was banned as it was perceived as a symbol of Scottish rebellion. The ban was repealed only 36 years later, but by that point the Highlanders were now accustomed to ‘lowland’ fashion, and completely turned their backs on tartan.

The comeback

However, this was not to be the end of tartan. It came back in a big way, thanks in no small part to His Royal Highness King George IV. King George became the first reigning monarch to visit Scotland in nearly 200 years when he crossed the border to pledge good faith to the Scottish people in 1822. As a show of unity and respect, the English monarch dressed himself head to toe in tartan apparel. The Scottish people, along with the rest of the country, took to the renaissance of the outlawed pattern in their droves, and before long the pattern had steamrolled its way around the world.

Tartan interiors

Today, the use of tartan isn’t just limited to Scotland – although of course those strong associations remain! These days you can find tartan inspired designs almost anywhere, and it’s a staple in interior design some 200 years after its resurgence. A popular look for sofas, armchairs, curtains, blankets and scatter cushions, tartan oozes a cosiness that blends Highland grandeur with a warm, inviting feel.

Looking to add some tartan to your interior? Well, we’ve got a couple of ideas on how you can use tartan to layer up your colour profile:

  • Something small – consider adding a tartan blanket, or a couple of plaid scatter cushions to your sofa.
  • Bold statement – bring in a big fluffy throw in dark blended tartan pattern to pair with a bright checked sofa fabric.
  • Contemporary look – the dramatic lines of tartan blend well with modern trends such as Scandinavian minimalism, creating a sumptuous contrast that breaks up your contemporary design.

We love tartan here at Cover My Furniture, and you can explore our wide range of classical and contemporary sofa covers, including Highland Check, right here on our site. Our sofa covers come in a variety of materials and colours to suit any living room design. Having trouble deciding on a style? Don’t hesitate to let one of us know! You can get in touch with us using the contact form on our website, or through our Facebook or Instagram. We’re always happy to hear from you!

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