6 Ways to Harness the Power of Pattern

6 Ways to Harness the Power of Pattern

Eleanor Büsing
Mar 18, 2015

When we talk about good design, we pay a lot of attention to function, shape, color, texture and proportion. And quite rightly: a well-designed space will take into account all these various elements, and the combination thereof. But what we don't talk about enough (in my opinion, anyway) is pattern. It seems that it's treated as an "extra" most of the time, something only for the brave, or only usable in certain situations. Isn't it time we changed that?

I love pattern and its myriad of uses in the home, from tiny geometric wallpapers to bold floral sofas. In fact, I believe that every room can benefit from the addition of a bit (or a lot) of pattern. Read on to see what I mean.

(Image credit: Eclectically Vintage)

Pattern can liven up a neutral space.

What's more, it can do this without adding color, if monochromes are your thing. The above living room is chic and timeless in black and white, but it's the controlled use of pattern — the diamond-pattern rug, and geometric cushions, and that unexpected tiled wall — which keeps it looking layered and interesting.

(Image credit: 79 Ideas)

Pattern brings things together.

The right patterned piece can serve to bring cohesiveness to a space, by bringing together multiple colors. The pink, dark blue and light aqua of the above room are all attention-grabbing shades, but work together thanks to this multicolored rug. (This is also a great way to design a room from scratch: find a patterned piece you love, pull colors from it for the other items, and voila!)

(Image credit: SF Girl By Bay)

Pattern allows you to experiment.

So maybe there's a trend you want to try— bold stripes, neon shades, geometrics — but you aren't quite sure about it in a large dose. Bringing in just a hint of pattern, whether on a cushion, an occasional table of a fun headboard, is a great way to test-drive the look and bring a freshness to your home.

(Image credit: Mimosa Lane)

Pattern can highlight architecture.

The clever application of pattern can show off the features of a space to their best advantage. In this bedroom, vertically striped fabric acts as headboards, and the wallpapered wall between them reads as another soaring panel of pattern. Together, these patterns highlight the impressive ceiling height, much more so than a plainer wall would have done.

(Image credit: My Paradissi)

Pattern can define an area.

Consider using pattern to zone a space within a room— this bathroom uses subway tile for the shower, hexagon for the side of the tub, and blue geometric for the basin area.

Pattern makes a small space sing.

Too often we keep small rooms neutral and simple, in the hopes of making them appear larger. But this often backfires, resulting in a space that's both small and dull. Better to inject some personality, and what better way to do that than with pattern? This small kitchen with bold backsplash agrees.

Do you use pattern in your home? How much, and in what areas? Is there anywhere you wouldn't use it?

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