The Beginner’s Guide to Mixing Patterns

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For a beginner, accent pillows are a great place to start when experimenting with colors, textures, and patterns. Blend contemporary with traditional by using patterns with sophisticated color palettes. Try using patterns that vary in scale to add interest to the mix.

For example, in the above image PATTERN #1 is the sofa fabric with it’s large scale leaf motif and in a vibrant red! Talk about being the strongest statement fabric in the room…PATTERN #2, #3, #4, and #5 as seen in the accent pillows are mainly florals and stripes and their scale is about half the size of PATTERN #1. Note also that the accent pillow fabrics contain the same color palette as PATTERN #1 with the addition of the steel gray.Another reason this fabric combination works together is because it’s made from the same set of dyes in the same hue. These fabrics are sold in a collection and are referred to as companion fabrics. They are purposely designed to blend harmoniously in a room.

Why not play with patterns using wallpaper and fabrics? Here again in the image above the colors are of the same intensity and blend together seamlessly even though each pattern is completely different from the other. Like the sofa in the previous example, the wallcoverings boast large-scale patterns and are complimented by medium- and small-scale patterns seen in the chairs and in the accent pillow.

There is always an opportunity to play it safe while decorating like a pro. Take a look at the image below. This bold wallpaper pattern contains an array of colors and is a good source of inspiration for the room. Here, there is only one pattern and the sofa and accent pillows are all solid colors found in the wallpaper. Add even more interest to solids by using texture. Solid colored pillows made from mohair, wool, silk, jacquard, or velvet for example are still considered solids (not patterned), yet they add both visual and tactile appeal.

With just these few tips, you can be well on your way to fearlessly mixing patterns, color, AND textures.
Here are some “take home” points:

  • The key to successfully mixing patterns is to choose a large scale pattern with many colors, a medium scale pattern with some colors, and a small scale pattern with just a few colors.
  • Use colors with the same intensity. Do not mix pastel with primary colors or subdued with vibrant tones.
  • Use pattern evenly throughout the room.
  • Look for companion fabrics to make mixing patterns virtually foolproof
{courtesy: All fabrics featured are by Romo Fabrics}

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  • carrie @ bloomacious
    October 7, 2009 6:39 pm

    these are amazing matchups – totally love this post!

  • Mimi Scarlett
    October 8, 2009 4:27 am

    Excellent post. I have always wondered how designers on television are able to mix patterns and make them work. Great job at describing the process, and making it even easier to execute with your "take home" points!!

  • Thank you so much for posting this! I've been dying to add some colors/patterns to my home but I've been too afraid it would look bad. This will definitely help me choose something that will look great!

  • Thanks for this post. I've always found mixing patterns difficult but this beginners guide gives me more direction. Looks like my stripes and polka dots are going to become best buds:-)



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