“How to Mix Patterns in a Space”

- Friday, April 01, 2011

Are you timid about mixing patterns in your home décor? Don’t be, it is much easier than you think. It is not much different from a following a recipe or getting dressed, for that matter.

Can add a greater level of sophistication and interest, adds depth.

Bold pattern can give oomph to a space, but don’t stop at just one.

Trick is creating a look that is both classy and colorful without being chaotic.

Basic understanding of scale and density.

4 basic types of pattern:


Stripes can be bold or subtle, large or small. Vertical stripes can add height to a room just like they can add height to a short person. Horizontal stripes can add width to a narrow wall.

Checks can be either classic or modern, casual (country French) or formal.

Mod, op-art stuff.Polka-dots can be playful

Floral patterns can be realistic or stylized. Tend to be more on the feminine side, however I have seen many masculine “florals” of palm fronds and ferns. Masculine colors.

Motif designs consist of repeated elements or figures, used to inject a theme, think a Greek key or Chinese fretwork.

Pictoral pattern is more scenic in nature, think of a toile with its depictions of the French or English country side. Asian toile also.

Have seen rooms done entirely in one pattern and although bold can be “one note” as well.

Why not mix it up a bit.

Give patterns some space, you don’t need to use a pattern or print on every surface. Sometimes it works better to leave some space between patterns – plain drapery panels against a wallpapered wall, patterned drapery panels against a painted wall, and so forth.

Vary styles and scale, mix a large floral with a small geometric and a medium stripe.

Remember, the more pattern going on the more simple lined the furniture needs to be. White, or other light solid colors will pop against a colorful and busy pattern.

Do not forget about area rugs, artwork, pillows, even architectural details (like a coffered ceiling).

If mixing fabric use a common color denominator to keep the design from looking uncoordinated.

Mixing patterns doesn’t have to mean taking huge risks as long as you keep the volume down which designer Alexa Hampton explains as choosing one color and mixing different shades with it, The strongest statement in the room is made with texture.

Mixing fabrics isn’t that hard as long as you follow what you like which sometimes starts with a favorite color. Choose the main fabric fabric – often something out of the ordinary. This isn’t necessarily going to be used the most, but it’s the inspiration for the fabric choices to come. The others can be heavily patterned or plain as long as they have the same colors as the main fabric.

Pattern goes beyond checks, plaids, stripes, and florals. The shape of furniture influences how a pattern in in a fabric looks in your overall design and where that furniture is in relation to other pieces in the room.

Link patterns together with color and scale. Think about how much of a pattern you will want to see. I almost always use a more subtle pattern on large upholstery pieces.

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