Is it a Mistake To Decorate With A Greek Key Motif?

Dear Laurel,

I was having lunch with a friend who like me, loves to decorate and I was telling her about the plans for our living room refresh.

I loved those drapes you did with the Greek Key Pattern on them. But, when I showed them to my friend, she scrunched up her face and said, “Ya know, that design trend has nearly played itself out; I’d leave the trim off. Otherwise, you’re going to date the room shortly.”

Hmmm… I know that you’re always talking about Greek Key Motifs and how much you love them

Is she right? Is it a mistake to use a Greek Key Pattern, in this case a trim on my draperies and perhaps elsewhere?

Meandra Keyes



Hi Meandra,

No. It’s not a mistake.

It’s not a mistake any more than say, putting in a front door.


But yes, anyone who’s been reading this blog for a while, knows that I adore Greek Key Patterns.


living room bronxville New York with Greek Key Motif rug

My living room. Photo by Me.

My living room in Bronxville, NY with Greek Key Motif Pillow and trim
Greek Key rug. Greek Key pillow. And Greek Key-esque sofa trim. I love it all. In fact, if you’d like to see an earlier post with lots of gorgeous Greek Key images and info click here.


However, what is it about Greek Key Patterns and Motifs that makes them so appealing?


The Greek Key pattern, also known as a meander pattern, is most often used as a linear pattern. The design is a geometric line that repeatedly folds back on itself, thus mimicking the  Meander River of Asia Minor

This pattern became particularly important to the classical Greeks and then Romans. The Greek Key motif symbolizes the infinite and unity.

variations on a greek key motif theme

But, they also convey a beautiful graphic that’s architectural, pleasing to our sense of symmetry and balance. Above are some examples of some common Greek Key Motif patterns. But there are many more. (sorry, source of the graphic unknown)


Greek Key Patterns are both traditional and modern.


It’s not a fad.

People may have it more on their radar now, but it’s not new and it’s not going away as a time-honored classical motif.


I have to tell you.

I could sit here all day searching the interwebs for Greek Key Patterns.

All day.

For a month.

But, since that’s not happening, I’ll do my best to cut this short.

After-all, I know that you have to fire up the grill soon! :]


Today, I’m going to share with you lots of wonderful ways to use Greek patterns.



A couple of years ago, we did this lovely drapery with Mary McDonald Greek Key trim. To read more about this post and pretty much everything you know about window treatments click here.

(please forgive the typo in the graphic. I forgot. My magic wand to fix it is at the cleaners. And I believe that they just want out of business.) ;]


I adore this green Ming table I found @palmbeachthrifters on-instagram


via Barbara Westbrook Interiors on instagram - Greek key home exterior Atlanta

via Barbara Westbrook Interiors on instagram – Greek key home exterior Atlanta

Love her work! Remember this gorgeous bedroom?


via @katherineandshouthall Greek Key Motif fence historic property Hancock Wirtcaskie House

via @katherineandsouthall Greek Key Motif fence historic property Hancock Wirtcaskie House


via @katherineandshouthall Greek Key Motif fence historic property Hancock Wirtcaskie House

A visit to a wonderful building in Brooklyn Heights with an image by me. This is a piece of the ceiling.

brooklyn law school- city hall greek key floor


Brooklyn Law School – City Hall with a Greek Key Motif floor. My pic and feet. They could clean a little better, no?

And, I realize that part of it looks very much like a swastika. That design was also a beautiful classical motif before the Nazis took it over to be a symbol of everything that’s atrociously evil in a world gone mad. It’s really a shame, but of course, what they did is a trillion times worse.

Ironically, its original meaning was the diametric opposite.

Photograpy: Amy Bartlam and Ryann Ford-master-bedroom_greek key pattern on duvet - designer Meredith Ellis

Photography: Amy Bartlam and Ryann Ford – designer Meredith Ellis

Love this bedroom and I think that the Greek Key Pattern on the duvet cover makes it!


via @amandaforresstyle on instagram Greek Key motif with Metrie wall moulding

via @amandaforresstyle on instagram Greek Key motif with Metrie wall moulding

For more beautiful Metrie mouldings click here and here.


Throughout history Greek Key patterns have also appeared on clothing.


1801-06 La Belle Marchioness Townsend Court Dress


It’s not too flattering, but, nonetheless, it’s a Greek Key Motif. It was very popular in the Empire and Regency periods of the early 19th century.


And, we can still see Greek Key Patterns in clothing today.


via @vmnemporium @versace instagram - greek key motif underwear on hot guy

via @vmnemporium @versace instagram -That’s better! ;]


You can also frequently find a wonderful Greek Key Motif out in nature.


madabout garden design greek key motif boxwood hedge
How cool is this Greek Key Boxwood Hedge?


greek key pool

Sorry, I tried in vain to find the original source of both images.


via @torimellott on instagram -interior design by @nickolsenstyle @Julianhuartephoto fabulous greek key border floor

Fabulous black and white floor and chic staircase by Tori Mellott on instagram

Interior design by Nick Olsen – Amazing!


Below is a widget of some beautiful home furnishings which feature a Greek Key Motif. Please click on the individual images for more information.



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Or you can go here.


And please visit the hot sales pages for some of the best Fourth of July sales going on right now. Including 20% off of everything at Serena and Lily!


via Jamberry and ellenlange on instagram greek key toenails

via @Jamberry and @ellenlange on instagram greek key toenails


Please have a beautiful, relaxing holiday. (the one that lasts for ten days this year!)


28 Responses

  1. Hi Laurel,
    Like you, I’ve always loved the Greek key design. The earliest example that I can recall comes from Mycenean pottery (ca.1200 BCE) but became most prevalent in the 8th century, BCE. Next time you’re at the Metropolitan Museum, check out their Geometric Krater- it has a double meander. This design motif likely originated in textiles as a boarder motif, which is why it looks just right in fabrics and rugs- and always will. In toenails? I’m not so sure but that looks so fun. Thanks for a great post, as always.

  2. LOL, the Greek Key dress… those poor women were pregnant all the time!They must have been grateful for the yardage so that they could attend public events, showing pregnancy was considered low class. Thanks for the Greek God pic.

  3. Hi Laurel,

    Do you know where I could find the Greek key duvet cover from The Meredith Ellis photo?

  4. Once again, Laurel, I completely agree with you. I must admit if someone informed me that a Greek Key design may become dated, purely by reflex, I would laugh out loud. Rude, I know, but anyone with the least bit of design knowledge would know of it’s enduring history! Thank you for the fun Greek Key retrospective.

    1. Hi Reese,

      Unfortunately, I hear similar things with many enduring classics. What might not be enduring is what the classic is paired with. For example, brass faucet with a pink-mauve sink and gray formica counter.

  5. Laurel, How could the Greek Key ever be a trend (in the unflattering sense of the word?) I agree that it is timeless! The Barbara Westbrook photo was one of my favorite houses in my old hood.
    Great post from your friend,
    Nancy Keyes, Meandra’s sister XO

  6. I think if you want an instant touch of “classic”, the Green key trim is just the answer. Where do I buy the guy in the underwear?

  7. This has nothing to do with your blog (wonderful as ever) but I thought this might make you enjoy your day even more. I’m in Evansville, Indiana. The current humidity level is 99% (it’s not raining). I can barely see out my windows (and the seals haven’t failed). The heat index is supposed to be 104-110 today. Enjoy your day in the north!

    1. Well, Cheryl, I feel for ya. People don’t believe me when I tell them that Evansville, Indiana is the hottest, stickiest place on earth in the summer. But I did love the thunder storms and now, would appreciate the shorter winters. The last summer we were there, our AC died. Mom didn’t have the money to get it fixed, so she bought two giant fans. But it was still bloody miserable.

  8. It never ceases to amaze me what some folks think is a trend. Thankfully we have you to educate all of us. I love your history lessons.
    I hope you’re staying cool!

    1. Thanks so much Mary. I am staying cool. My one window air-conditioner does a great job of cooling the entire apartment– especially when I remember to clean the filter!

  9. It’s certainly accurate to think of the Greek Key as a decorating trend “dated”- it’s thousands of years old!- and simultaneously as classic and fresh as it gets.

  10. Oops – I just noticed that there’s a typo on your wonderful window treatment graphic. At the bottom(!), “bottom” is missing a “t.” You might also want to look at the sentence immediately preceding the Greek Key Motif graphic. Either I haven’t had enough coffee, or something went sideways there. Great post, though!!

  11. I too love the classic Greek key design. I didn’t realize there were so many different styles of the key. I love your posts because I always learn something interesting and unique about design. Thank you!

  12. Uh, yes, there are people who think so. It does look trite to me and Izvestia heard remarks. But if anyone likes them, so what? Go with what you like

      1. Laurel – I too was curious about Izvestia, so googled it and the only thing I see is that it is “100 year old high circulation daily newspaper in Russia.” What that has to do with Greek key, and how a newspaper “heard remarks”, is beyond me.

  13. WHEW! When I saw the headline I panicked because Greek Key is a long time design touchstone for me. I adore greek key. The two motifs that repeat in my house are Greek Key and Gingko leaves. Thanks for a reassuring post.

    1. Oh, sorry for the anxiety Erin! Originally, I was going to combine the old post with this new one, but it got to be too much. I too, adore Greek Key designs. And when the trim started getting trendy, I always thought. “Hey, I’ve been doing this for 12 years already!”

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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