Mixing patterns in a space is a great way to add interest, color, and depth while giving it a custom look. But there are a few guidelines to follow if you want to avoid a jarring and uncoordinated look. As you read below, keep in mind that the various patterns and colors don’t need to “match” each other, they just need to go well together!
First, work with an odd number of patterns. Odd numbers tend to look best, so if you’re going to play with patterns, start with three different patterns in three different scales. Once you’ve mastered the key to mixing patterns, try for five!
Use varying scales of patterns. Incorporate varying scales to the space so that the prints don’t compete with one another. Sticking to 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.
Large patterns work best on large pieces, and small patterns on smaller pieces. When choosing the location for your patterns, keep in mind the space in which you are working. Like we said, 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 in large amounts.)
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 and 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. Last but not least, 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.
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. Try it out! Mix it up!
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