This post was published in March 2015 and updated in February 2021.
We get it. Mixing patterns is scary. Between colors and scale and pattern, there’s a lot to consider, and the stakes are high because decorating mistakes can be expensive, especially when it comes to large upholstered pieces, rugs, and drapery. But there is hope, and we want to help you conquer your fears and teach you how to mix patterns.
First and foremost, always keep balance top of mind when you mix patterns. If you’re starting with a very bold pattern, consider bringing in one or two smaller scale, tone-on-tone, or solid patterns for harmony.
If you are using a large, bold pattern somewhere in the room, that doesn’t necessarily mean everything else needs to be solid and subtle to work. For instance, if you have a pair of chairs in a large print, some bold throw pillows on a couch on the opposite wall may work nicely. That balance is important to keep in mind not just in the colors but in the locations of the bold prints.
2. Monotone Mixing
If you’re nervous to mix patterns together in a room, start by trying this simple strategy: choose one shade and try 3-4 different patterns all in that shade. This is a sure-fire strategy that we use when designing our catalog all the time.
In the space above, you’ll see how we’ve mixed patterns in in a palette of blues. We’ve mixed together a pair of striped chairs with a rug and ottoman in a geometric pattern. We’ve brought in each of these patterns in equal portions which could have felt overwhelming, but because they’re all in the same color family, it doesn’t feel like too much.
3. A Foolproof Formula
A great strategy when mixing pillows together is to use one of each of these four: a floral/paisley, a geometric, a stripe, and a solid. As long as each of these fabrics is in a similar color palette, you’re sure to create a beautifully mixed and matched combination of patterns.
In the outdoor space above, you can see how we’ve used this formula. We have a pair of solid throw pillows in the chairs, floral and striped pillows on the sofa, a geometric print in the rug, and a stripe on the outdoor pouf. We’ve brought in tons of pattern, but it all works!
4. The Magic of Stripes
Stripes are your secret weapon if you want to mix patterns together in your home because they go with almost any other pattern! Florals, ikats, geometrics, solids, or even other stripes, they’re very versatile!
How gorgeous are these ikats paired with this striped sofa? It’s almost a challenge to come up with a pattern that doesn’t work well with stripes!
And here, we’ve mixed two striped dining chairs in the same color palette as the rest of the room. Even with the patterned rug, the stripes work together harmoniously. Stripes are magic, what can we say?
5. Get Your Patterns Straight
Below we’ve grouped together our favorite ways to mix patterns. Learn about their strengths and where to put them below:
Textured Solids are a great starting point in a room because they’re so versatile but have more detail than a simple twill or linen. We often use these on large upholstered pieces that need to have staying power.
What more can we say about stripes? We love them! Whether it’s a ticking stripe, a cabana stripe, or somewhere in between, they’re a classic look that never goes out of style. We especially love the way this linear pattern pairs with almost any other pattern out.
Floral may often have a traditional feel, but with an unexpected application, it can feel modern too, Upholster one on an occasional chair for a classic look, or put them on a set of drapes for something unexpected. They’re a great jumping off point for a rooms color palette. Each of these florals has lots of different shades in it, which gives you a kind of road map for the other colors to bring into the room.
For a bold print that will take your decor to new heights, ikats are the way to go. Ikats are characterized by a bleeding look, where the dye resists certain threads creating this beautifully dynamic pattern. We love them because it only takes a little bit of this pattern to make a statement. On pillows, drapes, rugs, or upholstered pieces, ikats are fun and youthful. Just be careful when applying it to small pieces like throw pillows; you want to be sure the area where you’re applying the fabric is large enough for you to take in the full effect of the ikat.
What do you think? Will you be able to tackle pattern mixing in your own home now? For more pattern inspiration, read these helpful articles next:
- How to Add Color to your Neutral Living Room
- How to Mix and Match Patterned Bedding
- 8 Reasons to Use Pattern in Your Room
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