Home Improvement: How flags at home can be a celebration of your independence

Jennifer Welch Designs

Jennifer Welch Designs - Credit: Archant

Flags – Do you fly them with pride or worry about the connotations? Here Ellen Widdup investigates the history of the flag and how you can use them in your home.

Flor

Flor - Credit: Archant

National pride or football yob? The Union Flag sadly has something of a chequered history.

Tim Barber

Tim Barber - Credit: Archant

But in the United States the Stars and Stripes will be flown while hearts burst with pride on Independence Day this week.

Interiors with Ellen Widdup - flags for Independence Day

Interiors with Ellen Widdup - flags for Independence Day - Credit: Archant

Maybe it is time us Brits reclaimed our flag and even made it a central feature in our homes?

Petra Vitler, of Suffolk Interior Design agrees: “The first flags appeared approximately 4,000 years ago and were made from solid materials.

“Around 2,000 years ago scraps of fabric were added resembling what we call flags today.

“Flags are a great source of colour and easy to use for home decoration. They add vibrant colours and interest and work particularly well in children’s rooms and play spaces.

Most Read

“Every county in the world has a flag. The colours and motifs all have significant meanings. Red, for instance, is the colour of danger, revolution and power while green signifies safety and hope.

Be bold - yet subtle

Let us take the US and British flags – bright, simple, brave and bold.

There are two ways to feature them inside your home – in whole or as part of a wider colour scheme.

But there are some strict rules to get this right – after all, if you get it slightly wrong, the whole idea could come tumbling down around you.

First things first - do not pick a room and festoon it in the Union Flag from floor to ceiling, soft furnishings to artwork. This is the very worst idea.

The clash of vibrant colours will give guests a migraine and they will probably wonder at what stage you are going to demand they join you in a heartfelt rendition of God Save the Queen. Instead pick an element of the room where your flag of choice – and those vibrant colours - could work.

Don’t overdo it.

Make furniture stand out

Chairs, sofas and even coffee tables can all carry flags well. By upholstering a chair with a Union Flag, for example, you immediately offer a slice of fun to a living room.

Why not scour antiques dealers for that classic British hardback chair – and then add a dash of modernity with Union colours for the fabric?

Or for a more laid-back feel why not move away slightly form the flag configuration and use red, white and blue for a sofa? A vibrant blue sofa with red and white cushions exudes confidence and fun and will lift the spirit of any room – especially one where the family relaxes.

Make an artistic statement

If you have cash to splash and want to make a statement beyond who issued your passport or where you enjoy going on holiday, why not bid on a famous flag?

Petra said: “Original flags are very valuable - one such flag belonging to Shackleton fetched £116,000 at auction in 2002.

“A battle of Trafalgar flag from HMS Sparitate fetched £384,000 in 2009. We’re unlikely to be using these to decorate our homes, but there are a number of interesting and highly collectable flags available for more modest sums.

“And if vexillology is your passion you will definitely be wanting your finds framed and hung to perfection in your study or den.”

Switch the colours

Who says the Union Flag design has to carry red, white and blue? The cross and inter-locking line motif is famous the world over and available in every color you can imagine.

A very quick search and you will find rugs in shades of blues, large wall art in oranges and even cushions with the original colours muddled.

This technique

offers you the chance to use the incredible Union Flag design while adding a quirky element.

But beware …

Here in the Britain our relationship with the flag is very different to other countries. Maybe it is because it represents the union rather than an individual country?

For example, if you had a Stars and Stripes rug you may well offend American guests who would not want to stand on it.

In the US the Flag Code in fact states that the Stars and Stripes “should not be embroidered, printed, or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use”.