Fretwork is a pattern of interlocking lines that dates back hundreds of years. Sometimes called lattice pattern, fretwork comes from Chinese metalwork designs. Thomas Chippendale, known for the Chippendale chair as seen in the image above, first introduced fretwork to western furniture in the 18th century. Since then fretwork has experienced numerous revivals and interpretations.
Fretwork patterns can be extremely elaborate or have simpler geometric patterns. The common thread between them is the repeating intersections of the lines to create an overall geometric pattern. Sometimes similar to the Greek key pattern, fretwork is beloved by modern and traditional design alike.
The current revival of fretwork in design can be found on traditional furniture pieces as well as contemporary interpretations. Variations of fretwork pattern can be found on textiles such as curtains and bed linens, area rugs, pillows and even upholstery. Fretwork wallpaper and stencils are used to add design to walls and the interiors of cabinets and bookcases.
The limits to where fretwork can be incorporated into your design are only limited by your imagination. Traditional fretwork patterns in metals, as seen in the Victorian era, can be found on radiator covers as well as exterior stair balustrades. Cabinet doors in wood or metal can be decorated with fretwork patterns.
When using a large fretwork pattern, let this be the dominant pattern in the room. Other patterns can be introduced in smaller scales as to not compete with the complex fretwork design on walls, furniture, floors or curtains.