There’s one design dilemma that continues to elude many—mixing patterns. Using more than one pattern in a room seems intimidating but it can be easy to do once you know the tricks. It all comes down to coordinating and complementing patterns in a space.
When decorating with patterns, first determine what kind of look you want your room to have. For example, florals give a room a feminine vibe while animal prints give it a glamorous or eclectic feel. Second, think about what types of patterns will fit into your room's theme.
As a rule of thumb, use at least three patterns in a room. For example, group together a floral, stripe, and polka dot. Another pattern group that works well together is herringbone, stripes, and paisley. A third group of patterns could be two different size plaids and a floral.
Vary the Scale of Your Patterns
Mix up the scales of the patterns you're using. For example, choose a large pattern, one medium pattern, and one small pattern. Or, choose a large pattern and two medium patterns. (The one time you may not need to vary pattern size is if you use three animal prints in one room.)
Choosing the Color of Patterns
Now that you have an idea of what patterns you may want to mix, the next challenge is choosing the colors. There are a couple of directions you can take when it comes to mixing and matching the colors of different patterns.
- Use colors that have the same hue and intensity. For instance, don’t mix pastel patterns with jewel-tone patterns.
- Choose tone-on-tone patterns which give a neutral room depth, texture, and character with a sophisticated overtone.
Placing Patterns Around a Room
Keep in mind a couple of rules when mixing your patterns. Distribute patterns evenly throughout the room for balance. Keeping patterns to one side of a room makes can make a space look and feel unbalanced.
In addition, it's fine to show a bit of restraint when mixing patterns. The eye needs a place to rest so layering up too many patterns together will look and feel chaotic. Make sure you have a few solids to break up the expanses of pattern. For example, if your curtains are patterned, add in solid color shades or sheers. Patterns work best when they have plenty of room to breathe in a space.
Here are the most common patterns you will find when decorating a room and what each pairs best with in a space.
01 of 09
Characteristics: Traditional, formal, and glamorous
Common uses: Wallpaper, side chairs
Pairs well with: Stripes and subtle florals
02 of 09
Characteristics: Romantic and feminine
Common uses: Wallpaper, draperies, bedding, pillows, and furniture upholstery
Pairs well with: Stripes, checks, polka dots, ikat, and damask
03 of 09
Characteristics: Playful and lively
Common uses: Toss pillows and upholstered accent pieces
Pairs well with: Ikat, and similar colored stripes and florals
04 of 09
Characteristics: Bohemian with a hint of formality
Common uses: Curtains, throws, pillows, and upholstery
Pairs well with: Herringbone and stripesContinue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09
Characteristics: Versatile based on size—large chevron is bold and energetic while smaller chevron is more formal and traditional
Common uses: Works best in small doses (curtains, throws, or accent pillows), but large scale chevron or herringbone floors look elegant
Pairs well with: All patterns as long as the colors work together
06 of 09
Characteristics: Elegant and timeless
Common uses: Drapery, wallpaper, bedding, and accent pillows
Pairs well with: Stripes and plaids; avoid using toile with other busy small scale patterns such as florals
07 of 09
Characteristics: Boho, earthy, and global-inspired
Common uses: Rugs, pillows, curtains, and accent chairs
Pairs well with: Stripes, polka dots, florals, plaids, and chevron
08 of 09
Characteristics: Wild and eclectic
Common uses: Rugs, ottomans, pillows, and statement pieces
Pairs well with: Other bold, graphic prints and even other animal printsContinue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09
Characteristics: Conservative, classic, sometimes masculine, sporty
Common uses: Curtains and upholstery
Pairs well with: Toile, ikat, florals, and other plaids of varying sizes and colors