Look, we Scots are as much a slave to trends as anyone else. We had the brown overly patterned 70’s wallpaper, we all had a Jack Vettriano piece in our homes for some reason, and everyone’s granny had that Monet “painting” (print) in their home of the Lady and Child in a Field. So, ultimately, to define Scottish interior design is impossible at face value. However, if you’re looking to inject some Scottish heritage with all the material, iconography, and styles we’re known for into your home, there is a way to do it and do it right. It’s easy to stray into the home equivalent of one of those tartan hats with ginger hair peeking out that the tourist shops sell. Avoid that at all costs. This is how.
Think about textiles
Textiles are a big part of the Scottish identity. You think Scots, you think tartan. It’s our calling card. But that doesn’t mean you can plaster it all over every wall and surface and pretend that’s stylish. Take the rule of tartan in fashion to heart: it’s best when used sparingly. Tartan fashion is limited to formalwear and entertainment (like highland dancers and pipers). Use it around your home in a limited capacity for big impact. Cushion covers, throws, bed linen, or curtains, but definitely not all.
And there are lots of ways to evoke “Scots” in textiles without tartan. The faux hairy fur that comes in cushion covers is trendy and very evocative of a ‘Heelan coo’ – sorry, highland cow for those not familiar with local dialects of Scotland. Wool and woven textiles reflect Scottish culture. Use plaid, argyle, and Fair Isle knits in your upholstery to get that distinctly Scots feel.
Enjoy natural materials
When it comes to the solid furnishings in the house, simply remember that nature is your friend. Wooden, stone and leather furnishings are all great to incorporate into the home, and, done well, they can give a sense of luxury rather than living in Outlander’s outhouse.
Additionally, natural colour palettes are a given. It’s the style staple of just about any country, but where African countries like the vibrancy of their country, we Scots have a lot of grey, therefore just about anything in the “muted” field feels like home. Think of rich forest greens, burgundy reds, navy blues, all complimented by neutrals in the beige and brown variety. The good news is that you’ll be right on trend since all of these dark accent walls are popping up across trends right now.
Use architectural details like exposed beams, thick walls and doors like the ones found at doorways.co.uk, large fireplaces that are reminiscent of Scottish castles and manor homes paired with the cosy textiles above create spaces that promote warmth and community in response to Scotland’s cooler climate – to put it kindly.
We’ve already mentioned a few pieces of Scots iconography that you can incorporate, like the highland cow, but there are lots of others to think about. If you’re thinking traditional and timeless, there is the stag, a terrier dog, thistles, etc. If you want to go a little more modern and city-scope, you can incorporate ideas into art like the Glasgow Central Station clock, which acts as something of a meeting point like the arrivals room at the airport, or the idea of a close, which in the Central Belt are beautifully tiled and decorated (in old ones anyway) and evoke romance and secrecy.
And then there is the ‘father’ of Scottish art: Charles Rennie Macintosh. His roses come printed on everything from canvases to stained glass windows, but there is so much to his work you’ll find something different to incorporate. And if you need any more distinctly Scottish artists to consider, look at the work of John Byrne and John Lowrie Morrison (or Jolomo to his fans).