Make Your Space Come Alive! 6 Rules to Follow When Mixing Patterns

I’ve been known a time or two to decorate with pattern– HA! Ok I always play with pattern.

Introducing pattern to your home as an accent through textiles such as pillows, rugs and upholstery is a great way to liven up a space adding both interest and color. It makes a room come alive and can easily be swapped out, leaving your main pieces in place, giving the space a whole new look and feel–this is key for habitual decor changers like myself. Any decorator will tell you, however, that there are certain general rules to follow when mixing prints that will make your combo read as harmonious rather than chaotic and jarring or, on the flip-side, too “matchy matchy.”

1) Patterns don’t necessarily have to “match,” they just need to “jive” off of one another. So what in the world do I mean? Use textiles that share a commonality between them, such as a similar hue. Repeat that color throughout the room so that your use of pattern looks and feels intentional and harmonious.

Above we’ve used the fleshy, peachy undertones to marry the space: The art, the pair of benches, the large lumbar pillow on the sofa, the throw, the accent pillows on the arm chairs and the bedspread all share this hue making the space feel collected yet intentional.

2) Vary the scales of the patterns you’re working with so that they don’t compete with one another. Aim for large, medium and small scale prints to add variety.

3) Use large-scaled patterns on the bigger pieces in the space. Small patterns tend to look busy and often read as muddy if used in a large quantity whereas larger pieces can accommodate a big pattern in its entirety.

4) Anchor the combination with a pattern that bridges or marries the patterns by incorporating ALL the colors in your scheme. Supplement this textile with other patterns that pull out just a few of your colors.

5) Pair textiles that are similar in style– using a super traditional textile with a really modern pattern would just feel out of place and make the space feel uncoordinated.

6) Mix in solids! This helps ground the design. Pattern everywhere is overwhelming and jarring.

Sometimes all it takes is for someone to break it down for you to understand why some combos work better than others. Use these pointers as a jumping off point so that you can mix with confidence! I’m a big believer in “if you like it, roll with it.” If you’ve broken the rules, but you love it, rock it!!

About the Author

With 10-plus years experience in design and extensive world travel under her belt, Amber Lewis brings an eclectic, bohemian design eye to her projects. Lewis believes that chic should be inviting, comfortable and cool, and sets out to inspire others through daily designer quick tips, fashion finds and DIY projects.