Inspiration: Making Bold-Patterned Upholstery Work

When it comes to upholstery fabrics, we find ourselves instinctively drawn to patterns—the bolder the better. This can be an unfortunate predilection, as it's sometimes tough to make these bold patterns work in a room. In search of inspiration and ideas, we went trolling through our favorite sites and came up with a handful of successful examples. And in case some of you might share our penchant for patterns, here are some tips we gleaned from our search...

• When decorating the rest of the room, pick up colors from your fabric. Sure, this is a pretty basic tip, but it comes in handy when you're trying to unify a room around a bold fabric choice.

• Don't be afraid to layer your patterns. Choose throw pillows with complementary colors but contrasting textures or prints. These confident choices will reinforce the eclectic vibe of a boldly upholstered piece.

• Go for matching furniture. Even if your fabric choice is wacky, don't shy away from using it for matching chairs or love seats. Chances are that having more than one piece done up in your fabric of choice will make the pattern feel less like a wild card in the room. (It's also possible, of course, that too much of a print can be overwhelming... in this you'll have to trust your instincts.)

• Think about striving for contrast between your fabric choice and the shape of your furniture. Sometimes a crazy print will work best on a tailored or traditional sofa, like a Chesterfield. The contrast in styles between the furniture and its upholstery will give your room a whimsical feel.

• If you love an especially bold fabric but your style is more conservative overall, consider a small accent. Throw pillows, a side chair, or even just a single panel on a dining chair (see first photo, second row above) might be enough to satisfy your pattern cravings.

Pattern-lovers out there: What are your ideas for making bold-patterned upholstery work?

(Images: Teresa Grow for Design*Sponge; Decorno; House to Home; Elle Decor; Amy Allison for Design*Sponge; Steven Gambrel; House to Home; Galbraith & Paul; Livingetc)