Secrets to Understand How to Successfully Mix Patterns

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SOURCE: Cate Holcombe

If you’re a regular reader you already know how much I love colour and pattern and I especially love to mix patterns together. It’s something that’s instinctual for me. I guess you could say that one of my gifts is being able to design spaces using multiple patterns without clashing. I often ask my clients to trust me when it comes to pattern mixing and they’re amazed at how well it ends up. It can sound overwhelming but sometimes it’s just having the confidence to go for it that shows you how simple it can be.

If you hesitate in using patterns in your home because you don’t know how to mix patterns, I’m here to help. I’m sharing a few of my proven techniques that always work in client spaces.

 

HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY MIX PATTERNS

There’s no singular way to mix patterns that’s correct. There are a few methods that work and you’ll figure out which is right for you based on what you like. If you prefer a lot of pattern but not a lot of colour versus lots of colour but subdued patterns, you’ll find a solution here.

 

ONE COLOUR FOR ALL PATTERNS

 

SOURCE: Pinterest

This one works really well for those who prefer pattern over colour. This relies primarily on the mixing of pattern but the colour palette remains very consistent. You can have various shades of the same colour but you’re entirely relying on a single colour to be the common thread between all the various patterns.

So how many patterns are too many? I would say you can successfully mix 3 or even 4 different patterns and they’ll look great together if they all have the same background colour. You may sneak a little bit of a secondary colour like white or cream but you’ll be relying on the main colour for consistency.

As you can see from the image above, we don’t have to limit our patterns to just fabrics. This shows us we can have just as much fun with using pattern in decor items. There’s just 2 colours and multiple patterns but it looks perfectly cohesive.

 

 

PATTERN SIZE IS A FACTOR

SOURCE: Studio McGee

If you want to really have fun with multiple patterns as well as a few colours this is the secret to success. This is often the most difficult to achieve because you have to have a good eye and a lot of confidence to successfully pull off a number of colours and patterns together. The pay off is massive when it’s done well though so if you like it, go for it. 

Pay careful attention to the scale of each pattern. That will be the key to getting it right. A simple rule to live by is to incorporate a small, medium and large scale pattern. This will allow each to have some attention but also not fight each other.

The image above shows how much pattern and colour can cohesively coexist together. On the right side there is a small, medium and large pattern along with a total of 4 colours. That sounds like a lot but it works. In addition to that, they’ve created a 2nd grouping on the left which is a repetition of the colours. They’ve stuck to a large (yet very understated) pattern along with a small pattern and all 5 of the pillows look like they belong together.

One of the most common mistakes I see when mixing patterns is that the scale remains consistent. This is what causes the busy look where our eyes don’t know where to land. Be conscious of the scale and it’ll be perfect.

 

SPREAD THE PATTERN AROUND

SOURCE: Elle Decor

So maybe you like pattern but you’re not enthusiastic about it hanging out all together in side-by-side pillow arrangements. That’s a much easier design to create. This room illustrates how pattern can be found weaving its way through a space in a very natural way. Although the patterns are all quite bold and very different, the common theme of blue and white geometric shapes keep it looking harmonious. The chartreuse accent is consistent on both sides of the room and feels like it gives a nice combining effect.

Not all your patterns have to live together on a single sofa. For instance, you can use a bold pattern alongside a neutral, plain fabric on a chair. Meanwhile, across from that chair you can use a different pattern from the chair alongside a 2nd and maybe 3rd additional fabric. Those additional fabrics can be patterned or plain. 

There needs to be something tying them together but it can be a colour or a secondary part of the pattern. You don’t have to repeat the entire pattern across your room. Maybe you have large oversized flowers with leaves on one pillow. Across from that you could include a small scale leaf pattern and they would work wonderfully together.

 

INVERT THE COLOURS

SOURCE: Hackner Home

If you want to use 2 or more patterns together but you don’t want it to feel overwhelming you can just simply commit to 2 or 3 colours. The patterns need space to breathe and adding in too many colours will end up with visual chaos.

The best advice for using multiple patterns is to pick 2 or 3 colours and play around with inverting the colour. Like these pillows above it’s easy to create a calming effect even when using multiple patterns.

If you like an even bolder pattern, try something more attention grabbling like a polka dot pillow. It can sit beside a strong geometric pattern just by inverting the colour. Adding in a new colour would make it challenging to have these side by side but with just 2 colours they look great together.

The bottom line is pattern is meant to be fun. Don’t be shy and just go explore. Sometimes you have to play with it a little until you find what works. What do you think about mixing patterns? Do you love it or feel overwhelmed at the thought of it?

If you need help with decor in your home, contact me to discuss it. I’d love to hear from you.

 

If you know your design style but you struggle with which paint to use, take a look at my Made-For-You paint palettes. They take the guesswork out and give you the confidence to get started.

 

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