Home » Blog » greek key

greek key

It’s all Greek to Me

The Greek key motif is classic and timeless.  Examples of this regular repeat of interlocking right angles has been found as far back as Egyptian tombs and Aztec sculptures.  However, it is most associated with its use in ancient Greek architecture and design.  Today, the Greek key may be referred to as “fretwork” as it is probably one of the best examples of this pattern of interlacing lines.

The Greek Key motif is prevalent in today’s design, from fabrics to casegoods, art to carpet.  It can be found in virtually any medium at any number of price points. 

Below, it is found as a trim on a simple white drape.  This home is that of designer Sally Steponkus, a well-known Washington, DC designer.  I love everything she does, so seeing her home in this month’s Southern Living was a treat.

Sally Steponkus apartment southen living

Photo by Laurey W. Glenn for Southern Living magazine.

The drapery fabric is from Duralee and is a linen/cotton blend.  It can be purchased for around $30/yard.  The trim is from Clarence House and runs approximately $32/yard.  Steponkus used a chocolate trim, but it is available in 17 different colors. 

To get a similar look for a lower price, consider purchasing ready made panels and have a seamstress sew on the trim (or better yet, do it yourself!)

New York interior designer, Grant K. Gibson uses a high end trim for his bedroom drapery panels.  I love the rich look.

Grant Gibson Greek Key Trim New York Times

Photo by Peter DaSilva for New York Times.

Finally, California designer Ken Fulk used a Greek key trim in this bathroom to give style to a simple roman shade.

Ken Fulk Greek Gey trimmed roman shade

Image via KatieDID, House Beautiful, July 2006, Photo by Karyn R. Millet.

Greek key / fretwork fabrics can be found by almost any fabric manufacturer.  Depending on the scale of the pattern, it can almost seem like a neutral, simply adding texture to a room.  These chairs from Lee Industries are a good example.

Anna Kohler Renovation Style magazine greek key

Image via  LaDolce Vita, Renovation Style, Early Spring 2010, Photo by Susan Gilmore.

For a better view of the fabric used on these chairs, in addition to other options from Lee Industries’ fabrics, I’ve included swatches below.  You’ll notice many are other fretwork patterns but have a similar feel.

Lee Industries furniture renovation style magazine anna kohler

In contrast, with a larger patterned fabric, the Greek key pattern becomes a focal point.


Suzanne Kaslet via Matters of Style Blog

Suzanne Kasler via Matters of Style

Below, I have gathered a  handful of the Greek key / fretwork fabrics that are available.  Of course, this is a small list.  The possibilities are endless.  I’ve listed sources below, for pricing or more details, please contact me.

Greek Key Fabric, Duralee, Nomi, Sunbrella, Kravet Barclay Butera,

(Sources: From top, left to right.  Duralee, Nomi- Sunbrella, Kravet- Barclay Butera, Nomi- Sunbrella, Duralee)

The Greek key motif is also often used in furniture design.  Below, you will see it on the base of the table.  I love metal tables and love how the light finish on the chairs and velvet upholstery softens the look. 

Traditional Home Magazine Greek Key Table

Image via Traditional Home website. 

Below is a room scene highlighting a Century Furniture cocktail table.

Century Furniture Coffee Table greek key

I pulled together some of my favorite pieces of Greek Key inspired furniture.

Hickory Chair, Baker Furniture, Lee Jofa Greek Key Furniture

(Sources: From top, left to right.  Lee Jofa, Pearson, Hickory Chair, Smith Grubbs)

I am also a fan of the Greek key used on carpets. 

Greek Key Rug Elle Decor

Photo for Elle Decor, by Mark Roskams.

Traditional Home Ocean 3 Showhouse Greek Key Rug Carpet

Photo by John Bessler for Traditional Home magazine.

As evidenced by the rug (Stark Carpet) in my family room, which has a Greek key border…..

Greek Key Carpet from Stark Carpet

And finally, the Greek key motif even presents itself in lighting options. 

Greek Key Lighting Thomas pheasant, Ainsworth Noah

(Sources: From top, left to right.  Ainsworth Noah,   Ainsworth Noah, Thomas Pheasant for Baker)

The possibilities for use of the Greek key motif in your designs are endless.  I plan to cover a variety of Greek key sightings in accessories in a future post (is anyone still with me at this point?!).  For any questions, pricing or samples of anything you have seen here, please do not hesitate to contact me.