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Playing with Patterns

Anyone following this season’s design trends may be noticing that patterns are in the midst of a full-flown renaissance. Taking inspiration from the runway, designers are using patterns ranging from geometrics and florals to zig zags and polka dots to make their interiors pop with personality.

Although rooms that lack layers can be unwelcoming and impersonal, mixing colours and textures can be a little on the tricky side for the inexperienced decorator. Below are some tips for anyone in need of a crash course in mixing patterns before taking the plunge to re-vamp their décor.

  1. Start by choosing your colour scheme

Too many patterns mixed with too many colours can be a bit of an eyesore. When looking for fabrics, start by deciding which colour you’d like to dominate the room, and make this the dominant colour in your primary patterns too. Then, limit your colour palette to shades of that hue when picking out your other prints. The varying intensities of different shades will lead to an evolved, effortless look, whilst the mix of shapes going off in different directions will add character and personality to your space at the same time.

Four different fabrics sporting different shades of blue.


  1. Decide on a Primary pattern

It’s helpful to know how many patterns you’ll mix when decorating with them. More can be more if you’re confident with five, but a contrast of three that vary in scale but relate in colour is a good place to start if you’d rather play it safe. Once you know how many you’re using, decide which ones you’d like to dominate and which ones you’ll use as secondary pattern, as this will be your guide on how and where to use your patterns. Primary patterns should be used in a big way on something that will be noticed as soon as you walk through the door (for example the largest sofa, an accent wall or the curtains) whilst secondary patterns should be less over-bearing, and used on accessories, pillows or footstools for example.

Eclectic Living Room by Los Angeles Interior Designers & Decorators Burnham Design


  1. Keep it Simple but vary the scale

If you’re concerned that mixing patterns looks a bit too chaotic, then one method is to select simplified versions of your primary fabric for your secondary fabric. For example, if you love florals, an accent wall combining several types of flowers would look great against furnishings or home accessories with only one or two flowers printed on them. Sticking to one pattern but varying its scale will make your design stand out without looking cluttered.


Learn how to mix patterns with Betterhomes.com Learn how to mix patterns with Betterhomes.com


  1. Add Contrast

That being said, don’t’ shy away from contrasting different patterns, as contrasting simple forms with rich delicate ones is a great way of creating bold, tessellated designs in your home. For example, designer Ashely Hicks advice on making geometrics work, is to contrast symmetrical geometric shapes with angular lines and organic curves. Other great pattern partners include Zig Zags & Stripes, Floral & Gingham, and Ethnic/Aztec patterns with dots and paisley.


Zig Zags and stripes make a great pattern combination Zig Zags and stripes make a great pattern combination


  1. Take baby steps

Patterns can be placed just about anywhere and everywhere; on the wall, on the curtains, on the floor and on the furnishings. As they can be difficult to pull off, however , it might be useful to take baby steps when experimenting with them. Before you spend thousands splashing out on a statement rug or special wall paper, why not get some practice by starting on pillows and small home accessories? Its a great way to get confident with mixing  prints, and the perfect start to  your very own pattern success story.


Staring with pillows is a great way to learn how to mix patterns. Staring with pillows is a great way to learn how to mix patterns.

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