Mixing patterns in your home: 5 simple tips

Patterns are one of my favorite things in home decorating.  There are SO many different patterns out there and even MORE combinations of them!  When used strategically, mixing patterns has the power to transform a room.  Today I'm sharing my simple method for choosing and mixing patterns in your home.   And, I'm also sharing a printable version of my Beginner's Pattern Guide just for YOU!  Just click below: 

Patterns are everywhere

If you take a look in any design magazine, you will see mixed patterns all over the place.  Below is a great example of mixing patterns (Pinterest): 

Work by Patrick Mele. (Domino Magazine)

Work by Patrick Mele. (Domino Magazine)

I've never followed rules when it comes to decorating with pattern (at least that I was completely aware of!) But, when writing this week's newsletter, I found myself creating a pattern guide..... soon realizing I do follow some general guidelines. Today, I'm sharing those guidelines: 

5 Simple tips when incorporating multiple patterns in a single room: 

1.  Limit the number of patterns.  I generally try not to exceed three different patterns in any room.  If you're a "beginner" start with just two, with your accent colors coming from those patterns.  The more you play with pattern, the more you'll find you're willing to add another...and another....

2.  Vary the size of patterns/prints.   Try to vary the sizes/scales of prints you incorporate together.  So for example, avoid using multiple patterns that contain same size patterns. See the example below of three patterns that all contain same size/small scale print: (they also break the color rule, see #3):

The patterns compete with each other.  In addition to sharing no common colors, they have the same size pattern, making none of them standout among the others.sHere's what to do instead: 

Use one small scale print (plaid), one medium size scale print (floral), and a larger scale print (stripe)....

The patterns share a common color: navy and white, while their varying pattern sizes/types allow them to work together.  

3.  Colors in common.  Try to include patterns that share some colors in common.  In the example below,  Although both patterns are large scale print, they share a common color; navy blue.   The image on the far right also contains a color in common with the busier/larger print on the left.  These three samples don't compete with each other, but rather, they compliment one another.  The trio works: 

Below is an example of a pattern trio that does not share any colors in common.  While the pattern size rule (small-medium-large) is followed, the colors are not cohesive.  Immediately upon looking at them, your eye tells you it's just wrong: 

4.  Incorporate a theme.    If you desire your patterns to be representative of your setting, think about the patterns you are choosing.  For example if you have a cabin in the woods, and want to communicate a rustic/cabin-like feel, you would choose patterns representative of that, like a fishing pattern, or black bear pattern.  Throw pillows with seashells on them in this room....is confusing.  However, if you have a beach house, or live on the beach, seashell pillows would be a lovely choice.   Get my drift?     

If you aren't concerned about whether your patterns are representative of the setting you live in, but rather your tastes and preferences, then by all means, go for it.  You can create your own theme in any room, no matter where you live.  My only suggestion is that you choose a single theme, and stick with it throughout the room. This leads into the fifth and final method for mixing patterns....

5.  Maintain a theme.    Themes aren't for everyone.  They can be done well and tastefully....when a single them is maintained.    Incorporating a single them has more impact, than a spattering of different themes in a single space.  

If you are new to pattern use in your home, start with a one pattern.  Adding an additional pattern or two might be an experiment for you...and that's really what it's all about. Practice, wait, see what pleases your eye, and then go for it.   With practice, and some general guidelines, you'll be mixing all sorts of patterns......and you'll like what you see.  

For your next room refresh,  use my Beginner's Pattern Guide to get started:  

Here's to experimenting with pattern in 2017!!!   


Follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram for more tips and inspiration for making your home decorating and furniture make-over endeavors easier, and more enjoyable!   Not there yet but want some inspiration?  I think you'll find a thing or two to jump start that long awaited project, or much-needed change!