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I was recently interviewed by a journalist in the city asking about bringing a specific trend into a room (for her it was the idea of global influence, in particular African art, textiles, what have you). She seemed to quite like it when I said you have to do it sparingly, unless it is grouped as a collection, or you would end up with a “theme park” instead of a room (Epcot Center anyone?). But it made me think about how to strike that balance and how to explain it to someone.

Take, for instance, the Union Jack flag. I love it. I love how graphic it is. I love the colours. I love it when it looks old and worn. But it is something that has to be done properly. The shots below, for example, are of two beautiful rooms by Dan Marty Designs, but one has too many Union Jacks. Suddenly it isn’t special. Or as my moms would say, “that is too much of a muchness.” The other, from Apartment Therapy, has just a subtle Union Jack motif on a chair. That’ll do.

Photo: Room by Dan Marty Designs - too many Union Jacks

Photo: Apartment Therapy - One simple Union Jack

The next room has the ubiquitous Union Jack as a dog bed but it doesn’t really fit with the vibe of the room. Again, this doesn’t seem like a special motif the homeowner just has to add in, but in fact, more like an after-thought.

Photo: Union Jack dog bed - doesn't work for room

I think designer Tommy Smythe hit the right note in his living room below. I was on this shoot of his last apartment and was crazily coveting his Union Jack pillow (anyone know for sure what colony this flag is from, not a typical British flag so I suspect something colonial?). I may have even offered him some cash for it, when he is over it. Here is the thing, he only did it once in the room (he found an old vintage flag and had it sewn into a pillow) but the rest of the room also works with the look — a little masculine, a little trad, even a little colonial when you think of the brass, wood and the black, white, red. So I guess I am saying, keep it spare but also keep it in keeping — with the rest of the room that is.

Photo: Living room designed by Tommy Smythe

For more inspiring photos from Apartment Therapy, view our Apartment Therapy Design Lessons gallery.

Photo credits:
1. Dan Marty Design
2. Apartment Therapy blog
3. Unknown source: Help! Does anyone know where this shot comes from?
4. From House & Home December 2009 issue, photography by Michael Graydon

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