How Mixing Patterns Is Like Mixing Guests

My dad loved patterns. He mixed paisley ties with checked shirts and tweed jackets and it worked. He pulled off the same trick in the home I grew up in, the antique store he had when I was a kid, and the homes of customers who asked for his advice. His mantra? Use the same strategy to mix patterns that you would in introducing guests at a party. Wait, this advice is not as wacked as it seems.


  • Opposites attract: Scale is the first point to look at when mixing patterns. Mix a big wild print with a small neat one; plaid with florals; a stripe with a paisley. They complement each other. Patterns that are too similar just compete.
  • Find a point of commonality: Colour is second step in unifying patterns. To mix two patterns, find one or two colours that unite them; a third pattern might have one or both of those colours and then throw in another. When you've had some practice, you can move from linking patterns with the same colour to linking them with their analogous (the colour to either side of it on the colour wheel) colour.
  • Find balance: The patterns should have the same colour intensity so that they engage each other without one overpowering the other..
  • Two is good, three is better: Two patterns together look good but adding a third pattern into the mix keeps it from being boring.

Use these same hints when you're introducing guests to conjure up a successful party!

Image: Kirsten's Homework Assignment

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