Tuesdays are tip days and todays’ tips are focusing on mixing patterns. This is a topic that came to me from a viewer this past week. The question was:
“Natalie, how do I know if I am picking the right patterns when I am redecorating? I never know if my patterns go together.”
If you’ve ever been in a basic art class, you know that there are basic elements and principles of design. One of those being harmony. This comes in handy when you are picking patterns for your space. After all, pattern is one of the most important elements of a space. So I have decided to give a foul-proof list of ten tips to keep in mind when it comes to picking the right patterns. These are sure to get you the results you are looking for.
1) Work in odd numbers. Odd numbers seem to work best when mixing patterns, so start when three different patterns with three different scale. Once you’ve mastered that, try for five!
2) Use varying scales. Incorporate varying scales to the space so that the prints don’t compete with one another. Stick with the rule of three: pick one large, one medium and one small pattern to work with. For example, try one large floral/organic pattern, plus one medium geometric, plus one small classic pattern.
3) Large patterns work best on large pieces and vise versa. When choosing the location of your patterns, keep in mind the space in which you are working. A large pattern works best on a large item, such as a wall, window treatment or area rug because the space is large enough to accommodate the pattern in its entirety. A medium pattern is better suited to furniture and a small pattern to accent pieces. (Note: Sometimes, small patterns can look busy when used is large amounts.)
4) Look for a large pattern that incorporates all of your colors. One approach to begin building your mix of patterns if your space has several colors in it, is to think of the large pattern as your anchor. It should be the biggest, boldest and incorporate ALL of your colors in your color scheme. From there, pick a different, medium-sized pattern (about half the size of your large pattern) that utilizes SOME of the colors. Lastly, the small pattern can use just TWO or THREE of your colors. One easy way to do this is to look for a fabric that has coordinating patterns available.
5) You can use pattern even if you have a monochromatic room. Alternatively, if you have a single color, play with different shades of the color. So long as you still vary the scale and type of pattern, you can create a very cohesive look of mixed patterns this way.
6) Consider adding a solid to the mix. Don’t be afraid to throw in a solid to soften and ground the look!
7) Group together patterns that have similar styles. 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.
8) Be sure to balance your patterns in the space. Balance is key! This includes not only balancing the scale of your patterns, but balancing them equally throughout the space to avoid a lop-sided feeling.
9) Stick with a consistent hue. Within your color palette, use colors with consistent intensities. If your palette is pastel, don’t mix in a bold jewel tone and vice-versa.
10) Don’t be afraid to break the rules! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so break the rules if it looks good to you! Sometimes, complementary patterns and motifs come together in an organic and unplanned fashion, so if it looks good to you, go for it!
These 10 tips will hopefully get you started to become a pattern mixing master! Just remember to keep scale and color in mind, regardless of what approach you take to mixing patterns. The whole idea is to create a space that is both harmonious and reflects your personality. And most importantly, now that you know the rules don’t be afraid to bend them! :)
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