Mixing It Up: How To Combine Patterns Like A Pro

published Aug 7, 2012
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Mixing patterns is one of those decor areas that people seem to shy away from simply out of fear of not knowing what to match up. Well, we’re here to help get your feet wet and give you the confidence you need to feel free to mix it up!

As the lovely living room above, from Lonny, amply illustrates, it’s a worthwhile skill to add to your decorating expertise and the only way to truly get comfortable with using patterns is to give it a go. Here’s the crash course:

The Magic Number: Odd numbers work when you are grouping. Three is always a good place to start; go up from there if you’re feeling it.

  • Pattern 1: This is your strongest statement, so choose something you absolutely love and want to go off of for the rest of the room. It’s best to start with a large scale pattern.
  • Pattern 2: This piece should have a couple of the same colors as your first pattern, but be half the scale.
  • Pattern 3: Go for a complementary color or neutral textured piece in a smaller scale.

Color Intensity: Stay with the same color tones and intensities. Veer away from mixing primary colors with pastels, or muted ones with jewel tones.

Solids and Textures: You don’t want to put too many patterns on top of each other. You need a place for the eye to rest. Add in solids and textures to balance and seperate.

Graphics: Choosing a black and white (or color and white) graphic is a good way to add in an eye catching element to unify the space.

Balancing: Whether you begin with your patterns or solids first, be sure the rest of the room is continued in that same color palette to create harmony.

White: White is a great base that brings everything together and lets your patterns make a vibrant statement. Just make sure to keep the same white throughout for a crisp, clean look.

Companion Fabrics: If you need a little study time to push you into the world of mixing patterns, look into companion fabrics. Companion fabrics are designed by companies as pre-mixed harmonious patterns by color palette. Just head to the fabric store, ask for some companions and start studying what works together and why.

Pattern Buddies: Ok, so let’s get down to the nitty gritty. What looks good together:

  • Polka Dots, Textures and Graphics
  • Small Polka Dots, Stripes and Florals
  • Plaid, Paisley and Graphics
  • Ikat, Polka Dots and Paisely
  • Chevron, Floral and Geometric
  • Toile, Texture and Stripes
  • Animal Prints and Texture
  • Two Ikats and Texture
  • Damask, Floral and Stripes

Are you a pattern mixing fool? What are some of your favorites?

(Image: Lonny)