One of the things that makes interior design fun and artistic are the many different color and pattern choices that are available. But as much as it can make design interesting, it can also create a challenge when it comes to narrowing them down and choosing the best options for your space – especially when mixing patterns. Generally speaking, patterns can be commonly found in curtains, pillows, rugs and wallpaper – so there can be a ton of options. If you’re challenged by mixing patterns, or if you’re looking for some new ideas, these tips will help!
NUMBER OF PATTERNS
One of the first things to keep in mind, especially if you’re a beginner, is to stick to 3, if you’re beyond, just remember to stick with an odd number of patterns. Start by picking a pattern that you love, this will be the basis for your choices. Then choose a second pattern, making sure it’s in the same color family or coordinates with your room’s color scheme. Your third pattern should be in the same color scheme as your first two. So it should contain the same colors as the first two or be complementary. The scale however, should be smaller, this could be a more fun, whimsical, accent pattern. Make sure you are also combining small, medium and large scale patterns so they work together in the space. See more about that below.
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Variety is key! If you have 3 patterns that are all the same scale, your room is very likely going to be boring and fall flat. For example, if you’re designing a bedroom, you could choose a large-scale pattern as the dominant pattern for the room, and you could use it on the bedspread, rug or the wallpaper. As a second pattern, you would choose something about half the size as the first, in a totally different pattern (but still within your color scheme). And the third pattern would be the smallest but it would be similar to one of the first two patterns used.
Here are some scale formulas that work well:
- one large scale pattern, one medium scale pattern and one small scale pattern.
- one large pattern and two medium.
- two medium and one small.
- one medium, one solid, one small.
While connecting colors to a single multi-color pattern absolutely works, you don’t always have to have a busy pattern in your space. If you find yourself drawn to monochromatic motifs or color + white designs, you can still combine them successfully! This is where a visual of the color wheel comes in handy! Find colors that work well together by choosing colors that are either 1) across from each other on the color wheel (complementary colors); 2) next to each other on the color wheel (analogous colors); 3) Make a triangle or rectangle of colors on the color wheel (triadic or tetradic colors); or 4) are tints and shades of the same color.
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If you have a defined style in your home, also give some thought as to the types of patterns that you mix together. Traditional patterns tend to mix easier with other traditional patterns, versus mixing them with bold, contemporary prints. So for example, traditional prints such as florals, plaids, and damask don’t always blend easily with chevron or ikat. This doesn’t mean you can’t mix patterns across styles – in fact, sometimes, an unexpected print gives a pop to the room – but if you’re just starting to experiment with pattern, it is often easier to stick within a style.
In the end, you can always bend the rules! Sometimes, complementary patterns and motifs come together in an organic and unplanned fashion, so if it looks good to you, go for it!