Giving your home the odwilliam_morris_snakesheadd touch of Arts and Crafts practicality can create a peaceful haven – but beauty doesn’t lose out in the process. Nell Darby has some great tips on how to add some Arts and Crafts flair to your existing decor.

The Arts and Crafts movement was at its most popular between the 1880s and about 1910. Its main proponent was artist and designer William Morris, who believed that people should “have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”. As that quote implies, the movement tried to make people’s homes more attractive, combining usefulness with beauty.

Morris designed a whole range of interior furnishings – from wallpapers to curtains, carpets to sideboards and chests. Today, his designs are instantly recognisable; take, for example, the willow pattern. His creations typically feature repeating motifs of natural flora. Some of his popular pieces incorporate willow, lotus, oak, fruits – such as strawberries – sunflowers, and honeysuckle.

The use of flowers or natural imagery is a popular feature of designs from the era straddling the end of the 19th century and the start of the 20th. Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh created long, sinuous tulips, draped around angular latticed frames. Rennie Mackintosh-inspired dining chairs often have a long back with geometric patterns carved into them, or stylised plants or flowers – or both!

718629_SToday, if you decorated your home entirely in an Arts and Crafts style, it would look fussy and overbearing – and you would have to make a decision about whether you wanted matching flora on your curtains and cushions, or whether to just mix and match.

But adding a few Arts and Crafts items in each room creates a peaceful, attractive environment. For example, in your living room, keep your furniture plain, but add Morris-design curtains; or have a floral sofa as the main focus point, and then keep your soft furnishings plain.

In the dining room or kitchen, a Mackintosh-inspired table and chairs looks surprisingly contemporary. You can also get mirrors or picture frames with Mackintosh-style geometric and floral designs. Unfortunately, genuine Mackintosh items are exorbitantly expensive.

Many replicas exist, but if you go down this route, try and get the best quality, most authentic looking designs you can find. I used to live in Glasgow, and there were many shops selling cheap versions of Rennie Mackintosh designs, out of flimsy materials and with the occasional anachronistic design added.

If you can’t afford an original piece of furniture by an Arts and Crafts designer, you could choose prints for your walls, featuring their designs. A nice item to have is a print showing Rennie Mackintosh’s ladderback chair designs. However, this would go against Arts and Crafts teachings, as a print would be merely decorative, and not useful!