The ‘key’ motif (more formally referred to as the ‘fret’) is a continuous, linear and geometric pattern. Although its application is found across diverse cultures and over several millennia, we most commonly associate it with the architecture and ornamentation of ancient Greece.

The Greek variation is thought to have been inspired by the breaking waves on the Aegean shores; it depicts a fluidity and consistency of movement suggested by the waves as they endlessly roll back upon themselves. The ‘Greek Key’ was frequently carved into the impressive friezes of building facades and painted on delicate vases and urns.

Today, this classic motif is widely used in home décor. It’s has been interpreted and reinterpreted in countless applications. Varying the scale, colour, texture and material will all reflect a different take on this classic pattern but, as is the case with other iconic designs which have withstood the vagaries of time, it will remain just that – a classic.

Inspired to bring a little classicism into your home? I’ve selected some of my favourite applications that are sure to translate fluently from Ancient Greece to Present-day Canada!

Brian Gluckstein Dinnerware

Brian Gluckstein recently revealed a contemporary take on the traditional Greek Key motif in his new dinnerware collection, available through The Hudson’s Bay Company.


Tonic Living Pillow

An easy way to incorporate the Greek Key into your home is through adding a pair of lovely accent pillows from Tonic Living. (These stunners are available in multiple colour ways!)


Jonathan Adler Throw

Jonathan Adler has such a talent for applying classic elements to contemporary pieces for the modern dweller. This alpaca throw with a fun fringe is no exception.


Williams Sonoma RugIf you’re up for making a stronger statement, this Williams Sonoma rug will certainly do the trick.


Mary McDonald Sofa Detail

Mary McDonald’s designs often feature classic keys. However, detailing the corner a sofa skirt is beyond the everyday – subtle, but noticed.


Paul Frank Table

If there was any thought that Greek Key motifs were solely for neutral, traditional spaces, this table will put it to rest. Boasting the Pantone colour of the year, Emerald, this Paul Frank table is a true showstopper!


Ballard Designs Light

An etched key pattern twinkling through a mercury glass pendant is a prime example of where form meets function – has task lighting every looked so good?






Photo Credits: dinnerware, Gluckstein Home; pillow, Tonic Living; throw, Jonathan Adler; carpet, Williams Sonoma; sofa detail, Mary McDonald for Schumacher; coffee table, Paul Frank via 1stdibs; pendant light, Ballard Designs.


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