Why Checkered Print Is the Subtly Spooky Pattern Trend We All Need This October

Checkered plaid black and white blanket with slippers
Elena Korobova / EyeEm / Getty Images

When it comes to seasonal staples and fall decor, there’s a lot to love about our autumnal faves. But lately, we’re seeing one pattern more than any others: checkered print. 

While the starkness of a true checkered print makes it perfect for Halloween, it joins gingham and buffalo plaid on the list of fabric patterns that work particularly well for fall. We turned to the experts to find out what it is about this checkered print that makes it so seasonally (and subtly) spooky, how to use it, and which tiny tweaks help carry the pattern through to late autumn and winter.

Meet the Expert

  • Tanya Willock and Temidra Willock-Morsch are the creators and owners of the Hamptons, New York–based design and gift shop Hidden Gem.
  • Ginger Curtis is the founder of Urbanology Designs, a design firm based in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, area.
  • Stephanie Purzycki is the co-founder of The Finish, a digital design services company.

It's a Great Alternative to Stripes

As Tanya Willock and Temidra Willock-Morsch of the Hamptons, New York–based shop Hidden Gem explain, “Checkered is a great alternative to stripes. When we think of Halloween, we think of the classic black and orange stripes. With a checkered print, you are still able to get the cool contrast between colors and the stripe look without it feeling like something you have been seeing every year.”

It's a Cousin of Plaid and Tartan

But Ginger Curtis of Urbanology Designs thinks there may be another factor at play. “Checkered and buffalo plaid work so well in the fall because they are associated with all things warm, cozy, and soft,” she says. “Fall is about snuggling up in wools and flannels, dusting off the fireplace, and welcoming that crisp, cool weather. A good buffalo plaid symbolizes all of that.”

Stephanie Purzycki, co-founder of The Finish, agrees. “Checkered print is a close cousin of warm flannel shirts and holiday tartan plaids,” she says. “It has a plaid feel but, thanks to the farmhouse craze, feels a bit more on-trend and contemporary. [Plus,] checkered print also has a harlequin feel, which is a nod to costumes and dressing up for Halloween.”

Fall vignette with checkered print by Urbanology Designs

Courtesy of Urbanology Designs

How to Use Checkered Prints This Fall

Keep It Subtle

While there are no real rules when it comes to checkered print, Curtis says there's one thing to consider. “I've always loved extremely subtle nods to Halloween and fall when it comes to decor. Nothing too on the nose,” she says. “When applying this to checkered print, or any Halloween decor, avoid the black and orange combo: It's too obvious and overdone.”

If you’re eager to incorporate checkered print into your own Halloween decor, follow Curtis's lead: “One of the great things about buffalo plaid [and checkered print] is that it looks amazing in any scale,” she says. “So this is really where personal preference and your own design intuition will come into play. I'd say try to stay away from too many competing patterns, but otherwise, have fun with it!”

Think Outside the Checkered Box

On a similar note, Purzycki suggests leaning into the playfulness of checkerboard and incorporating it in new, unexpected ways. “If you want to use it in a fresh and fun way, you need to think outside the box a little bit,” she says. “Instead of doing checkered throw pillows, try layering a checkered indoor outdoor rug underneath your welcome mat, or mixing in checker-painted pumpkins with your au natural ones on your front porch or in your seasonal tablescapes.”

Similarly, Willock and Willock-Morsch advise starting in the kitchen: “You can find checkered print in a form of a runner on our dining room table, and in our kitchen as an apron or tea towels!”

While you can play with scale and style, checkered print also allows for wiggle room when it comes to your color palette. “Choosing autumnal colors is another fun way to mix up the checkered look,” says Purzycki. “Instead of black and white, try an olive or sage green, a goldenrod yellow, or burnt oranges for a fall feel that’s not so ubiquitous.” 

Carry It Through the Seasons

If you’re looking for a checkered print pattern that can carry you through multiple seasons, Willock and Willock-Morsch have a tip. “Finding a checkered print made with some texture is perfect for Halloween and can easily transition throughout the holiday festivities,” they say. “Multipurpose is the name of the game!”

“Keeping the color combinations simple and classic helps to keep the print classic and transitional vs a multicolored checkered print, which is trendier and can be more season-specific,” they add. “For example, a classic black and white checkered print is perfect for both Halloween and summer picnics, whereas a pink and blue checkered print speaks specifically for springtime.”

Regardless of where you incorporate your checkered print or how, know that adding it into this season's decor is guaranteed to up your style and your spooky factor.