8 Bohemian Rooms That Mix Patterns the Right Way

updated May 3, 2019
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Pattern mixing is tricky when it comes to an outfit, let alone a home. You have to understand color, scale, and texture to really make it work. Most designers will tell you to start small with printed accents like pillows and table linens and then work your way up to larger pieces of furniture and rugs. And definitely keep some neutrals in the mix, so it doesn’t feel like you’re living in some psychedelic pattern on pattern on pattern place—unless that’s the look you are going for.

There’s something delightfully bohemian about a room filled with multiple patterns all working together to create a cohesive look. And one thing’s for sure: There are many house tours on this site where the homeowners or renters have a solid pattern game going on. The best way to master the mix is to learn from those who came before you. So let’s go to pattern school.

1. Consistent Colors

(Image credit: Alaina Ralph)

First lesson in pattern mixing 101—keep your colors consistent. It’s much easier to put a stripe next to a dot, say, if you go tonal. Using shades in the same color family give the eye a bit of visual rest, so everything looks harmonious. With the floral textile draped over the headboard, the fuzzy blanket at the foot of the bed and the plaid skirt on the nightstand, you can’t get more soothing than this black-and-white mix in this bedroom.

2. Similar Scale

(Image credit: Chasity Kelly)

Scale is super important too. Generally, if you can find a couple of patterns that are about the same size—like the ones on these floral throw pillows—you can create a pretty cute little setup as seen in this cozy chair shot. Though all the boho plants in the background certainly add to fun of the look.

3. Matching Motifs

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

And it’s kind of the same situation on this window seat. You have every color of the rainbow in that lineup of cushions, but somehow they work together and not against one another. Why? Well, each pillow has a similar geometric pattern, for starters, and they’re all pretty close in scale too. So when in doubt, look for variants of the same motif.

4. A Touch of Texture

(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

Another way to master the mix is to bring texture into the equation. What I love about this living room is that there’s a lot going on. But because you have similar textures—the fuzzy rug and the kilim pillow, both in the pink/purple color family—it doesn’t seem visually crazy. The ticking stripe throw acts as a neutral, almost blending into the gray sofa. But at the same time, the throw also echoes the colors of the inlay chair. Then the chair has a white floral motif, which isn’t too far off from the white abstract pattern in the rug. This is next level pattern mixing, people. The interplay is working on so many different levels.

5. Remember the Rules

(Image credit: Natalie Jeffcott)

Maybe you have heard of the “2/3 rule” before? It’s a clutch formula to remember when you’re pattern mixing. Basically, if two-thirds of the patterns in your room are similar in scope and scale, and the remaining third is either slightly larger or smaller, you should get a visually pleasing composition. That’s kind of what’s going on in this bedroom. You have the printed squares on the quilt, which have a pattern that’s similar in size to the two shams on the left and what looks to be a Euro sham on the right. And then you have that leopard print throw pillow, which introduces a new scale to the picture but pulls its colors from the quilt so it doesn’t feel like it’s coming out of left field. Well done.

6. A Touch of Solid Shades

(Image credit: Hannah Puechmarin)

You also can’t forget the power of a solid when pattern mixing. This little granny-chic floral loveseat works so well with the blue floral pillow on it, I think, because of the solid yellow pillow that’s also in the vignette. If that were another floral pillow, it would be a total flower overload.

7. Little Mix

(Image credit: Hayley Kessner)

You’re seeing a similar effect here in this living room. There are several different little patterns on the sofa, from the pillows to the blanket, but the solid velvet can handle the mix.

8. Patterns to the Max

(Image credit: Kelli Collins)

And finally, when in doubt, sometimes the easiest way to pattern mix is to just pile it on. There’s nothing subtle about the patterns and colors in this Florida bungalow. But because the colors all work together, and you have smaller doses of patterns mixed with a few key larger items—the tapestry hanging over the bed, the area rug—you land on this awesome global maximalist meets boho vibe.

And that, folks, is how you pattern mix. Honestly, more is more if you can remember a few of these key tips and provide some structure to the room where you are pattern mixing.