Flora and fauna herald the joys of spring

The last couple of weeks have proved a breath of fresh air as we once again remember the joy of sunshine and a bit of warmth.

I know that as I write this we are actually facing the prospect of a return to showers and even snow, however, let's forget that for the time-being and concentrate on the fact that officially spring has arrived.

Obviously, this means design houses throughout the country are ringing the changes and introducing new Spring/Summer Fabric and Wall-covering Collections for 2010.

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It is customary in spring to see the introduction of flora and fauna and this year proves no exception. Perhaps in a reaction to the excesses of the early noughties, colour palettes appear more natural than we have seen in recent years. Many collections feature calm hues of soft light pink or blue, teamed with natural brown, green or ochre.

As you would expect, light backgrounds (such as simple ivory and cream) play an important part in many collections.

A simple, yet delightful interpretation of the Spring theme is found in Bloom from Prestigious Textiles (25.50/m; www. prestigious.co.uk – 01274 688448) in polyester cotton featuring large flowers on never ending stems against muted cream or duck egg blue backgrounds. Those seeking a classic English country bouquet should consider Oranienbaum from the Pavilion collection by Designers Guild in 100per cent silk (70/m; www.designers guild.com).

When it comes to wall-covering, simple and natural is epitomised by the clean, elegant 18th century Swedish designs featured in the Gustavus Collection from Zoffany.

Their Eleonora paper hits all the right spots with beautiful birds on blossom covered stems (42/roll; www.zoffany.com – 0844 543 9600).

Flowers are further emphasised in a number of collections featuring large white blooms on coloured backgrounds. These designs introduce an air of calm into any room and are ideal used as fabrics or wall-coverings.

Imperial from the Majestic Collection by Prestigious Textiles (43/m; details as before) is a viscose polyester blend which feels like linen and helps avoid excess creasing.

Alternatively, the soft sheen of Rosella Silk from Harlequin Fabrics conjures up images of period summer dresses and tea parties (52/m or available as a wallpaper at 39/roll; www.harlequin.uk.com – 0845 123 6815).

If you want a more vibrant silk option, choose Watelet by Designers Guild (details as before) which features pastel drawn white roses with charcoal stems on a number of striking backgrounds; available in 100 per cent silk as a fabric (70/m) or as a wallpaper (43/roll).

Spring 2010 is an incredible season for lovers of toile which features in many ranges. The Chantemerle collection from Zoffany is an elegant re-working of 18th century Copperplate toiles, incorporating a variety of subjects from classical panels to floral trails.

My personal favourite, "Au Pied Des Ruines", bucks the monochromatic tradition showing country scenes that incorporate pink, green and brown to slightly lift the overall effect (65/m as fabric or 44/roll as wallpaper; details as before).

Etienne from Harlequin reverses the traditional toile coloured print on a plain background, picking out the main design in small white panels and showing them against a striking coloured background: a design that works particularly well

when you use it in wall panels or to upholster a bedroom seat (30/m as cotton linen fabric or 44/roll as a wallpaper).

My advice when using toile is not to be half-hearted about it.

It is a statement so be brave and consistent. Use a matching design (never mix patterns or colours) on walls, curtains and soft-furnishings.

The range of fabrics available this year that include nautical and architectural themes mean that you can finally achieve this look without it being over-feminine.

n Jamie Hempsall, BIDA, is one of the region's leading interior designers. You can contact him on 01777 248463 or [email protected] hempsall.com.