A friend recently asked me if I could do a post on how to mix fabric patterns. As I work with clients I have found that this is one area that seems to really intimidate most homeowners. Like most things design-related, there are not any hard rules when it comes to mixing patterns, but there are a couple of things that I always keep in mind when I am making selections: Color, scale, texture and pattern.
In the photo below the dominant color is purple but the yellow and orange pillows (and yellow side table) create contrast. While the other fabrics have a similar shade of purple mixed in their patterns the stripes on the bolsters doesn't exactly match the print on the drapes. As long as colors are in the same family, you don't need to worry about exactly matching. The fabrics in this room also show a great mix of scaled patterns. The graphic floral image on the central pillow is a large print, the drapes are a medium print and the lumbar pillow has a small print. The change in scale keeps things interesting without competing with each other.
Below is an example of how to mix color without matching. Even though the blue and purple pillows are two different colors, the same fretwork pattern helps them feel like they go together. The mix of the pink spotted fabric creates a contrast in color and pattern and all of the colors and patterns stand out against the black and white striped headboard. The fabrics are pulling together the bright colors used throughout the room although the only common color they share is white.
Below is a banquette I created for a client. The large open scale of the patterned seat cushion works well with the busier floral/Asian theme of the Chiang Mai pillows. I added the solid slubby linen pillows to bring in additional texture. Once again the blue and brown solid pillows don't match the other fabrics exactly but they pick up hints of the brown and aquas in the patterned fabrics.
Other fabrics that are great for adding texture are velvet, tweed, chenille and burlap.
Even in a neutral space, the same principles can be applied. Below you can see the solid neutral colored furniture and window treatments provide a backdrop to pick up the subtle patterns of the floral pillow, tone on tone striped pillows, patterned rug, checked footstool and small scale printed bed pillows. Even though there isn't a bold print in the room, the textures and mixture of patterns create an interesting space.
These are just a few basic pointers. How do you go about mixing patterns in a space?