We all grew up hearing that stripes don’t go with plaids. But in home decor, a mixture of patterns and prints can take a room from blah to beautiful. Here’s how to mix patterns and prints like a professional when decorating your home’s interior.
General rules for mixing patterns and prints
- Decorators emphasize that to create harmony in a room, you need to vary the size of the print and patterned fabrics you mix there. Combining curtains made from a giant floral fabric with a chair upholstered in a medium-sized geometric and pillows in a subtle stripe works better than a room filled with competing large motifs.
- If you want to combine several patterns in a room, coordinate their colors. Use colors of similar hue and intensity.
- Some experts suggest using one print for 60 percent of a room’s patterns, another for 30 percent and a third for 10 percent.
- Combine simple and complex patterns when decorating a room to avoid an overwhelming design. And don’t forget to throw in some solids to give the eye a resting place.
- Spread the action around. You can use three fabrics for sofa pillows, for example, but don’t forget to use one of those prints for a chair across the room.
- Rooms filled with patterns and prints look best with walls that are white or a neutral color.
- Keep in mind that your undecorated room may have patterns of its own. A brick wall or a tile or hardwood floor makes its own statement, so take those patterns into account when mixing prints in a room.
How to develop a design scheme
The first step in decorating a room by mixing patterns and prints is to choose a color scheme. You might find what you’re looking for in a painting or patterned area rug you can ultimately display in the room. Select two or three colors that harmonize for fabrics and decor items.
Next, choose the largest print you’ll use in the room. Often this will be a rug, or a boldly patterned curtain fabric. Then choose two to five additional patterns that coordinate. Since you already have a large pattern, make sure your other choices are medium to small. When choosing your coordinating prints, combine a mix of stripes, geometrics, florals or foliage, plaids and ikats. A good basic plan is to combine a floral, a stripe and a geometric of three different sizes.
Pillows on sofas or chairs are a perfect place to use your chosen prints, but you can also use these fabrics for curtains, upholstered seating, area rugs, throws, lampshades and the like.
Don’t forget to add in solids when mixing patterns and prints. In a living room, a sofa or walls in a solid neutral will help anchor several patterns. In the bedroom, a solid comforter in a coordinating color makes a good base for a mix of pillows in different prints. And remember that solids may have a texture that functions as a pattern and adds visual interest.
Mixing patterns and prints is a matter of trial and error. Take your time with your design and edit where necessary.