Carol O’Callaghan throws away the iron and welcomes easy care linens in optimistic summer colours

Abandon the ironing board, it’s now officially out of fashion, so all you aficionados of gleaming white starched bed linens who have been enslaved to the pressing of wrinkles from plain white quilt covers can now luxuriate in the freedom of a more fashionably crumpled look. No more strict hospital corners required but loose fluffy lines and an overall relaxed approach to linens. Just make sure if you have an all-white linen arrangement on the bed that everything — pillowcases, sheets and quilt — is bought at the same time and washed together to ensure continuity of shade.

Supporting this relaxed approach is a look back at nostalgia and the revival of lace. Yes, lace, that fabric so beloved by curtain twitchers of yore, allowing a quick snoop while concealing the snooper, and the decoration of choice of Jane Austen’s heroines who might pass a quietly genteel day stitching a ribbon of it on a jaded bonnet before a trip to town to flirt with the local militia.

It is indeed the fabric of romantic fiction and even of fact since Kate Middleton’s elevation to Duchess of Cambridge while donning lace also elevated its twee reputation into a desirable must-have product, and not just to wear.

Here we are a year later and lace has threaded its way into our home interiors, and while we might not go as far as measuring up for a few yards of drapery, some clever ol’ sticks at their drawing boards have designed new applications for its use. It means that even if you don’t want to buy lace, the notion of it in terms of shape and design has been deployed elsewhere giving this relic of olden days a thoroughly modern reinvention.

So expect to find new applications of the pattern on rugs, china and even parcel ribbon for tying up birthday gifts. For a subtle and practical touch of it, window film that adheres straight onto the pane provides privacy while still allowing light in, but with lace-style patterns, it’s enlivened with texture and interest and works especially well in modernised period houses. It’s a blending of old and new taking the shape of lace pattern and giving it a contemporary application which is more appealing to a modern audience, the same audience who would rather buy a new chair than lacey antimacassers and chair arm protectors.

If lace is an absolute style no-no for you, preferring to keep your fabrics crisp, plain textured and gleaming, then cotton on to some new bed linen, towels, tea-towels and soft furnishings. They can bring texture and comfort and introduce new styles and colours at the same time.

Consider them in some of the trends of the season like floral whose riotous colour has blossom into another year, although toned down by setting them against a plain white background on bed linens and drapery so their fashionably blowsiness doesn’t overwhelm. Also check out appliqué and patchwork once used to hide wear and tear on fabric, and hessian flour sack materials creating a new vogue coming out of an established in-vogue parsimony.

* Next week we’re dining in


Kim Sheehan is an opera singer from Crosshaven, Co Cork, and is this year’s recipient of the Jane Anne Rothwell Award from Cork Midsummer Festival.A Question of Taste: Cork opera singer, Kim Sheehan

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