Don’t Be Afraid – Add Some Pattern into a Room!

How to Decorate with Patterns –

Have you ever flipped the pages of our catalog or walked the aisles of a fabric store and fallen head over heels in love with a fabulous large-scale pattern? And is your next thought something along the lines of: “That would never work in my house”?

We have news for you: it’s okay to fall in love with a great fabric! Introducing patterns into your décor can enliven your space and even show off your personality. How little or how much pattern you use is entirely up to you. Finding the right balance and choosing the perfect color combinations is easy if you follow a few simple rules.

If you love to redecorate and you’re not afraid of bold color, we say go for the gusto. Try a large pattern on an accent chair (like our lovely Louis Oval Chair), drapery panels or even a sofa.

 However, if you love your neutrals and tend to stick to solids, then start small. Adding an upholstered cube, a bench or a few decorative pillows lets you use a fabric you love without making a big commitment in look (or budget). Your larger pieces, such as the sofa or a rug, will balance the bolder hues.

The best way to mix in pattern is to use it in at least three places in the room or throughout the house to create continuity. Apply to window coverings, upholstery or smaller accent pieces.

The pattern you select is known as your anchor fabric. You can use the color scheme in your anchor fabric to revamp the entire room. Use the dominant color, or background color, from the fabric for wall paint. Pick a mid-toned color from the fabric for flooring and large furniture pieces. It’s okay to use variations of the same tone for a more casual look.

To bring balance—even if you’re not completely redecorating—introduce a few accessories like pillows, vases, lamp shades and picture frames based on the brightest colors of your anchor fabric.


Love your new look? You can take it to the next level by layering in coordinating fabrics and mixing design pattern sizes for added dimension. Just remember to repeat one or more of the colors in your anchor fabric to create a sense of flow.


Decorating with patterns can be such a simple style boost. So the next time you find a fabric you love, follow your heart.

Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.


  1. Reply


    March 26, 2013

    What is the paint color in the seafoam Ikat chair photo? Thank you.

  2. Reply


    August 31, 2011

    I love the rug in the top picture. Where can I find it? Thanks!

    • Reply

      Ballard Designs

      September 1, 2011

      Julie: It is called the Melanie Rug but it is not available any longer except in a runner size – 2’6″ x 8′. We are sorry for the inconveience.
      The Style Studio Team

  3. Reply


    August 30, 2011

    I love the fabric on the Louis Oval chair. What pattern is it? Is it Ballard?

    • Reply

      Ballard Designs

      August 30, 2011

      Laura: The fabric on the Louis Chair is Mirabella Ikat in Sea Foam. It is one of our newer fabrics – and your right – we love it too!
      The Style Studio Team

  4. Reply


    August 27, 2011

    I enjoyed the article. It has given me ideas for the use of the pattern I had planned to ad in a valance, a table topper and some pillows.

  5. Reply


    August 24, 2011

    This is a great article! Love the creative use of patterns!