Pattern Playground: How to Mix Patterns in Your Home
Mixing patterns in a space is a great way to add interest, and personality while giving it a true designer look. Here are a few guidelines to help you avoid a confused and uncoordinated look. Keep in mind that the various patterns and colors don’t need to be matchy-matchy, they just need to jive well together.
1. Odd Numbers. Odd numbers tend to look best, so if you’re going to take the plunge and play with patterns, start with three different patterns in three different scales. Once you get the hang of it, try five!
2. Varying Scales of Pattern. Incorporate varying scales of patterns so that the prints don’t compete with one another. Stick with the rule of three-pick one large, one medium and one small pattern to work with. For example, try one large floral/organic pattern, plus one medium geometric, plus one small classic pattern.
3. Size Matters. When choosing the location of your patterns, keep in mind the size of the space and the size of the piece of furniture if you are upholstering. A large pattern works best on something large, like a wall, window treatments or area rugs because the space is large enough to accommodate the entire pattern. A medium pattern is better suited to furniture, and a small pattern to accent pieces. Be careful because sometimes small patterns can look busy when used on a large space.
4. Add a Solid to the Mix. Don’t be afraid to throw in a solid to ground the look.
5. Group Patterns that are Similar in Style. If you have one defined style in your home then you should give some thought as to the types of patterns that you mix together. Traditional patterns tend to mix better with other traditional patterns, versus mixing them with bold, contemporary prints. So for example, more traditional prints such as florals, plaids, and damasks don’t always blend easily with chevron or ikat. This does not mean you can’t mix patterns across styles – in fact, sometimes, an unexpected print adds an element of surprise to the room. If you’re a little new to playing with patterns, it is probably safest to stick within a style.
6. Balance, Balance, Balance. Balance is key! This includes not only balancing the scale of your patterns, but distributing them equally throughout the space.
7. Incorporate All of Your Colors in a Pattern. Another way to build on your mix of patterns-if your space has multiple colors in it, use a large pattern as your anchor. It should be the biggest and boldest and incorporate all of the colors in your color scheme. Next, pick a different, medium-sized pattern, about half the size of your large pattern, that incorporates just some of the colors. Then, use a small pattern with just two or three of your colors. Often you can find fabrics with coordinating colors and patterns which make this super easy to accomplish.
8. Use Patterns in Different Shades of a Color. Alternatively, if you have a single color, play with different shades of that color. So long as you vary the scale and type of pattern, you can create a very cohesive look and still incorporate a mixture of patterns.
9. Stick with a Consistent Hue. Within your color palette, use colors with consistent intensities. For instance, if your color palette is pastel, don’t mix in a bold jewel tone and vice-versa.
10. Don’t Be Afraid to Break the Rules. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so feel free to break the rules if it looks good to you. Often a look that comes together in an organic and unplanned fashion can turn out to be show stopping!
*Remember, you want your patterns to complement, not compete.