Style at Home

Ticking: Two modest patterns used in modern ways

Traditional style can be brought to life with the help of black and white ticking and buffalo plaid.
Traditional style can be brought to life with the help of black and white ticking and buffalo plaid.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

When I was dreaming of how to decorate my little lake house, I decided to go with the love of my life: an evolved, traditional style brought to life with the help of black and white ticking and buffalo plaid. Here’s a glimpse of how I used these two modest patterns in modern ways to make my new home a haven.

Our lake home is cozy, so it was essential that key furnishings in these spaces be versatile enough for me to alter their look on a whim. A simple black and white ticking was the perfect pick, and I washed the entire living room in it. In the winter, I dressed up the furniture with tartan plaid pillows. For summer, I swapped them out for a hodge-podge of more modern pillows.

I first fell in love with formal furnishings upholstered in ticking back when I was in my 20s. I had visited an acquaintance who had inherited several heavy, ornate antiques. The look wasn’t for her, so she lightened and brightened the pieces by reupholstering them in ticking.

The idea of formal furnishings done in modest patterns captivated me. So many years later, I began to experiment with the power of ticking in my own home. I did the porch cushions in a subtle stripe because it acted almost like white furniture, embracing every color and pattern you put with it, yet still added a hint of pattern.

Every time we cover a piece of furniture in ticking at my store, it flies off the showroom floor. So I began to feature other simpler fabrics on formal pieces. That’s when my love light started to burn brighter for black and white buffalo plaid. Defined as a four-inch check, buffalo plaid is a big, statement fabric that magically plays well in the sandbox with everyone else. It makes me swoon.

Like ticking, furniture upholstered in buffalo check can be dressed up in lots of different ways, depending upon what kind of pillow and throws you pair it with, the other furnishings in the room and the wall color.

Ticking and buffalo plaid are also ideal additions to bedding. They provide threads of texture and pattern without competing with showier accent fabrics. If you want to go bolder, include shams or a duvet made from buffalo check.

I picked buffalo check for the draperies in a bedroom at my lake house because it is such a chameleon; it looks lovely paired with winter or summer accents. This restful window seat next to the bed blends the timeless beauty of the buffalo check drapes and a ticking cushion, made lighter with two summer pillows. In the winter, I’ll switch the pillows for rich plaids and add in a throw.

This column was adapted from Mary Carol Garrity’s blog at She can be reached at

Read more Home & Garden stories from the Miami Herald

 <span class="cutline_leadin">On demand: </span>Most tankless water heaters come on only when they’re in use.

    Ask a plumber

    Heating water can be a ‘tankless’ job

    The pros and cons of installing a tankless water heater.

At just 10 inches deep, the Mill console table from CB2 is perfect for decorating an empty hallway ($299).


    For small spaces, console tables are ideal

    Decorating a small space can be like packing for a weekend trip. There’s room for only the essentials, so every piece should be useful, versatile and worth its weight. If space is a commodity, the console table is one of the most valuable pieces on the market.

This sleek, mid-century Telechron clock is a handsome collectible.


    Telechron products known for style, design

    Q: I grew up in the 1960s and ’70s with this Lucite clock on a table in my parents’ bedroom. I recently found it in a storage unit of their things and am wondering how old it is, and the approximate value. It still works and has great sentimental value and now has a place of honor on my bedside table. Any information you can provide would be appreciated.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category