How to Mix Patterns in a Room

living room with mixed patterns

Katarzyna Bialasiewicz / Getty Images

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.

Choosing Patterns

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.

  1. Use colors that have the same hue and intensity. For instance, don’t mix pastel patterns with jewel-tone patterns.
  2. 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

    Damask

    Damask Pattern

    Shutterstock 

    Characteristics: Traditional, formal, and glamorous

    Common uses: Wallpaper, side chairs

    Pairs well with: Stripes and subtle florals

  • 02 of 09

    Floral

    Florals in peaches and pinks

    Clipart Library

    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

    Polka Dots

    Small all over polka dots

    Getty Images 

    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

    Paisley

    Two-color paisley pattern

     

    a-r-t-i-s-t / Getty Images

    Characteristics: Bohemian with a hint of formality

    Common uses: Curtains, throws, pillows, and upholstery

    Pairs well with: Herringbone and stripes

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Chevron/Herringbone

    Chevron and herringbone pattern

    Doodlecraft Blog

    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

    Toile

    Toile in green and cream

    Wallpaper House

    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

    Ikat

    Ikat pattern in blue and gray

     

    discan / Getty Images 

    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

    Animal Prints

    Zebra pattern in creams

    Rugs USA 

    Characteristics: Wild and eclectic

    Common uses: Rugs, ottomans, pillows, and statement pieces

    Pairs well with: Other bold, graphic prints and even other animal prints

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Plaid

    Plaid pattern with green background

    Free Creatives 

    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