Layer In Lots of Pattern & Texture

published Oct 15, 2015
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(Image credit: Sarah Stacey)
(Image credit: Lindsay Ribe)
Today’s topic: Learn the best ways to incorporate patterns and texture into every surface of your room.
See all the lessons! Apartment Therapy’s Design School

Pattern and texture (along with color) are the life and spark of a room. Without them, spaces feel flat and lifeless and, really, what’s the point of that? You can banish blah with different fabric, rugs, curtains and wallpaper that all work together in interesting ways and become part of a space that you love to look at — and more importantly, love to live in.

If you want to explore one way we added some key pattern and texture to Ashley’s living room during our makeover, head over to our Design School Case Study!

Step #1: Pick a Primary Pattern

Start with one main pattern. This might be a piece of fabric you chose earlier as your “anchor item” or it might be something completely new. It might take the form of your sofa’s upholstery, wallpaper, a rug — or even just a little throw pillow — but it is completely up to you. But this will be the surface to riff off moving forward.

Tip: The rule of threes says that things grouped in odd numbers are more appealing, memorable, and effective than even-numbered groupings. Three seems to be the magic number, but five, seven and nine work as well. When choosing pattern and texture, pick at least three variations of each to keep it interesting (and odd).

Step #2: Choose Coordinating Patterns

Once you have that main pattern in mind, choose two patterned objects to work with your main patterned object. There are a few things to keep in mind as you go about picking them.

Vary Style and Scale: Don’t do all large scale patterns or all small scale. If your main pattern is small, go for something large and in charge for the next one. Just make sure it shares something with the first one, whether it’s the colors or the.

Choose Something in Common: Maybe it’s one color, or the same color intensity (like all earth tones, jewel tones etc) or perhaps it’s a concept like nature, but choosing something in common will help connect all the various patterns in your space.

Incorporate Negative Space: Include white or other light neutrals that allow the eye to take a breather from all that pattern goodness, and add to the depth of a space. If you’re not into white, allow areas of open-blocked color to give the eyes a rest.

Spread The Love: When you are placing patterns around the room, don’t stick all of it in one place. Spread the visual weight around the room.

Step #3: Add Additional Texture

Every surface has a texture. We’re talking about the actual feeling of a surface – smooth, rough, soft, hard, etc. Even the patterns you picked above have a visual texture, which suggests how it would feel if you touched it. A particular texture works best when it’s next to another object with a different texture.

As a general rule, the fewer colors and pattern you have, the more variation in texture you need. Make sure you achieve that mix with lots of different materials with different texture. Nubby rugs, textiles, fiber art, cane chairs — anything that goes beyond just smooth.

Next Lesson: You’ll realize why no one likes to sit in a dark room, and learn what you can do about it.

Share your impressions on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter! We’ll have an eye out for your updates and photos and would love to see how you are doing and share it with the group. Be sure to tag with #ATDesignSchool so we can find you.