Buffalo check plaid has been around for centuries, and we still love using this classic pattern in our homes today. These ideas for buffalo check will help you incorporate this favorite fabric into your existing decor.

By Jessica Bennett and Darlene Weir
Updated October 20, 2020
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Long associated with rustic country-style interiors, buffalo check plaid has hit the mainstream. The graphic pattern now appears in contemporary, midcentury-modern, eclectic, and Scandinavian-style spaces in addition to cottage and farmhouse decorating schemes. Bold and crisp, buffalo check is more simplistic than other types of plaid such as tartan or madras, making it a versatile addition to a wide variety of styles. It's made up of square blocks in two colors that intersect to form an alternating pattern. Dating back to 18th-century Scotland, a version of this plaid has been used on clothing and in homes for generations, but the look is now more timeless than traditional.

Because of the pattern's bold use of color, buffalo check often works in lieu of a solid color. If a room needs a punch of blue, for example, consider trading a plain blue accent for a buffalo check-patterned version to deliver the same hit of color with added dimension and visual interest. Buffalo check's clean, color-blocked design allows it to be used as a base for layering other patterns, hues, and textures. Use these ideas for decorating with buffalo check to introduce this classic pattern into your home.

Credit: David Tsay

1. Buffalo-Check Upholstered Furniture

For a striking dose of pattern, use buffalo check in bold ways. These stylish chairs covered in buffalo-check upholstery fabric offer a powerful design statement in an otherwise neutral living room. The midcentury-modern styling on the chair legs and other furnishings instantly updates the look of the pattern. Here, buffalo-check fabric is used as a contemporary design element rather than a farmhouse-style look, showing off the pattern's versatility. The black-and-white color scheme also provides the freedom to swap out other living room decor to freshen up the room's palette as desired.

Credit: Paul Dyer

2. Buffalo-Check Window Treatments

Add a touch of softness and draw attention to windows with curtains printed with buffalo check. Choose fabric in neutral colors for a versatile backdrop that can adapt to changes in your decor. In this cozy living room corner, an antique cane-back chair features a buffalo-check seat cushion that picks up the pattern in the curtains. It nods to casual country style when paired with a rustic wood stool and stone fireplace surround.

Credit: Paul Dyer

3. Pair Buffalo Check with Vintage Accessories

Buffalo plaid's cozy, timeless look makes it an ideal decorating companion for vintage furniture and accessories. Play up the pattern's historical roots with accessories and art gathered from flea markets, antique shops, or thrift stores. In this cottage-style bedroom, buffalo-check lampshades add subtle interest to wall sconces on either side of the bed. A variety of vintage textiles, including an antique printed throw and pillows fashioned from old quilt fabric, reinforce the room's old-fashioned appeal.

Credit: Alise O'Brien

4. Buffalo-Check Dining Chairs

Show off buffalo plaid by keeping surrounding furnishings simple and streamlined. Here, the fabric adds interest to simple wood dining chairs, distinguishing them against a backdrop of light gray walls and country-style decor. The age-old checked pattern fits in well with salvaged shutters, an antique-inspired light fixture, and a vintage mirror. However, the fabric's clean lines and blue color scheme introduces a crispness that feels at home in modern-day interiors.

Credit: Kim Cornelison

5. Buffalo-Check Upholstered Ottoman

Ottomans upholstered in a classic fabric choice will blend with most styles and last through any trend. This black-and-white buffalo-check fabric is no exception. The pattern can go from rustic to an elegantly upscale look, as shown in this stylish living room. A framed buffalo print hangs on the wall as a playful nod to the room's standout fabric.

Credit: Adam Albright

6. Buffalo-Check Table Decor

To add a touch of buffalo check to your home whenever the mood or season strikes, experiment with tabletop decor. Napkins, fabric runners, and charger plates provide simple ways to layer buffalo-check patterns atop your table. Although this setting takes buffalo check in a rustic direction, this napkin could just as easily go glam, eclectic, or modern, depending on the mix.

Credit: Helen Norman

7. Buffalo-Plaid Accent Pillows

Small accents provide a quick and easy way to try the buffalo check trend. Use patterned accessories to provide a stylish punch without having to spend a fortune to get the look. Switching out a few throw pillows is a great place to start. Traditional buffalo plaid fabric will be found in red and black or black and white, but it also comes in many colors in a more contemporary riff. These pillows offer a modern take on the trend and show that plaid can be glam, too.

Credit: Kim Cornelison

8. Buffalo Plaid Blankets

This buffalo-plaid blanket in a lake-house bedroom brings a friendly cabin feeling to the room. It coordinates well with the room's color scheme and provides just the right amount of pattern. Stock up on a few buffalo-check blankets in different colors and place them around your house for a cozy way to create a design motif.

Credit: Laura Moss

9. Painted Buffalo-Check Wall Treatment

Take the pattern to your walls with this fabulous buffalo-check paint treatment. Although the project involves a time commitment, it requires only a few shades of paint and some painters tape. Buffalo-check patterned walls work especially well in bathrooms or kids' rooms. If you're skeptical about the pattern overpowering the room, try applying the pattern to a single accent wall or above wainscoting. And remember, paint can be easily changed if your style switches in a few years.

Credit: Werner Straube

10. Plaid Wallpaper

For a more permanent design element, try applying buffalo-check wallpaper to living room walls. It's another way to achieve a brilliant accent wall or transform an entire room if you're feeling especially bold. Here, the geometric design is repeated elsewhere in the room on a lamp and dresser for a cohesive look. Look to peel-and-stick wallpaper designs for a temporary statement that's easier to apply.

Credit: Adam Albright

11. Buffalo-Check Painted Floor

This painted buffalo-check floor provides a graphic accent in an otherwise simple bathroom. To prevent the pattern from overwhelming the small space, keep the rest of the room is cohesive with coordinating accents. A few houseplants offer the room's only color for a fresh, inviting look. It's like a checkerboard floor totally reimagined.

Comments (1)

Anonymous
October 2, 2019
Not to my taste. I'll skip the Buffalo