How to Mix Patterns

We see it in fashion, graphic design, and interiors. The art of mixing patterns has reached its peak and has become a huge trend in 2013. If you aren’t familiar with combining patterns then this blog post will prep you for your dive into an optical adventure.

fabric patterns

Vary the scale

When mixing patterns, alternate between small, medium and large shaped prints. If the eye isn’t able to wander naturally through a space, the design can be misinterpreted as cluttered. Be sure to throw in solid colors or white accents to break up the patterns. This will help give the illusion of space.

graphic patterns on pillows

Working with Color

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, concentrate on a simple palette. But remember: don’t combine competing colors! Find a pattern you’re really drawn to and pull one of its featured colors. Begin bringing in other patterns, try wallpaper for example, but stick to the same color family. Or, if you feel ready, balance your look with a complementary color.

contrasting fabric colors and patterns

Don’t Forget Contrast

Each pattern used should be different from the next. Don’t be afraid to mix geometric prints with organic ones. Go ahead and intersperse horizontal line work with vertical polka dots. Keep an eye out for stripes, floral, chevron, damask, embroidery, animal prints and tribal patterns. And textures count too! As long as color has been researched, velvet, canvas, grasscloth, and even leather can work well together.

contrasting fabric colors and patterns

Ways of Bringing in Pattern

The easiest way of mixing prints in your home is through pillows. Stick with a solid couch, a simple area rug, and layer on those pillows.  Have some fun and stray from the basic 18” square. Bring in a couple rectangular pillows and even some circular cushions. West Elm is a great place to shop or collect inspiration. Their pillows are often organized by color, which includes those with pattern. You can get a sense of what looks good together and find combinations that work well.

bedroom fabrics with various patterns

So, go big or go home—We dare you to be bold and beautiful!

This post was written by Erica.

Related Links:
3 Foolproof Rules of Interior Design
How to Decorate with a Neutral Color Palette
Inexpensive Window Covering Ideas
Understanding Color
How to Mix Metals in Your Decor
Subscribe to list

Love our design advice and inspiration? Get style crib sheets delivered monthly to your inbox, totally free.
Email Address

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:16 PM

    I need advice just like this to help spice up my decor. But I do have a question: how do you know if you've arranged too many contrasting prints and patterns? Or put out elements that make your space appear busy? Really helpful post.