I have a friend who is always commenting on my skills at mixing patterns and colors. She says that she’d never think about putting certain things together. There are certainly “tips” for how to do it – which I will list at the bottom. But mostly it’s just the feel of how it looks (to me!). I thought I’d go over some of my choices for patterns and colors in my own home and client projects.
Firstly – I will say that I do tend to prefer a tight color palette. Different shades of the same color in different patterns and scales are some of my favorite looks. Take a walk with me…
This is my own home that I’ve called Nook Cottage. Firstly, let me say that this is a rental house. So while I did do some painting, the beige walls were existing and I added pink accent walls throughout the main part of the house. In my dining area above, there are four fabric patterns and a solid. Mid-size floral (settee), small repeating medallion (pillow), larger repeating medallion (drapery – not as bright pink in real life), faux bois print (table cloth) and a solid beige on the chairs. All the fabrics are a cotton/linen blend except the chairs which are velvet. What I think works is that the primary color palette is three colors – pink, green and beige. There is a mix of pattern sizes from the medium sized overall floral, the repeating medallion patterns and the small overall faux bois.
Here is my bedroom. It’s very, very green. Which was a CHOICE. I love, love the geometric chevron velvet on the headboard (Lee Jofa’s Watersedge) which I mixed with a green and cream botanical fabric and white bedding. In the winter I have dark green velvet bedding. (Probably too much green but it IS my favorite color!). What works is the mix of the strong geometric with the softer more organic botanical fabric. Side note – I need to retake the bedroom photo as I’ve removed all the art and there is just one landscape photograph over the bed. I’m enjoying the simplicity!
For my recently completed Modern Coastal project, my clients wanted to keep things light and bright. “Colorful glam” were the keywords. This new build home has white walls and natural stained oak floors. The color palette was light blue, teal blue in different hues, beige and natural wood tones.
While the color palette is pretty tight, none of the fabrics are solid (except the leather sofa of course). There is texture mixed with patterns.
I really like the rug with the two chair fabrics – the deeper teal pattern on pattern chair cushion has a very traditional design style mixed with the much more modern hash marked fabric on the body which is beige with teal threads. This brings about this color in the rug which is a mix of all the blues, beiges and gray tones in the home.
I’ve always loved this Intarsia console so was very happy to include it in the small foyer in this home. The pattern is busy in a natural color palette while the overall form is quite simple. The cane cabinet on the opposite wall is quite large and my client was initially worried about to much pattern. But luckily they trusted me and they ended up loving it!
Here is the primary bedroom for this project which I think is a nice mix of repeating patterns (drapery and bed spread top), tone-on-tone textures (pillow) and a small overall pattern (faux ostrich on the headboard). This all punctuates the white walls and dark blue/gray carpet.
There’s a lot of mixing patterns and colors in my Colorful Cape Cod project. This sitting room features the medium size buffalo print woven fabric on the sofa (see above for a closeup of the deal in this fabric) combined with a nice large floral on the pillows and a small floral embroidery on the sheers.
In the main part of this house – the mid-sized botanical print has lots of colors from blues to yellows to deep pinky-reds. It worked equally well with the red/blue and beige striped flat weave stair runner (stripes and florals always work well together) as well as with the yellow/gold chenille chair pads across the room.
My Duxbury Coastal Home project was for a retired couple who had a wonderful collection of art, antiques and furnishings. The fabrics in this project were selected to coordinate with my client’s Oriental carpet while keeping things light and fresh. I loved the chairs in the overall cream-on-beige coral woven fabric. The pillows were a mix of patterns in medallion, stripe, paisley and tiny dots. You will noticed I also repeated the fabrics on the pillows for a more cohesive look – using the striped fabric as the welting on the other pillows makes for a subtle yet cohesive statement.
In my Hingham mixed use living space project above – I mixed a modern area rug with a small animal print on the ottoman and toss pillows, a plain sofa and leather chairs and an all over botanical fabric on the draperies. Again, the color palette is quite tight – create and greens with a warmer cream on the walls and a floral fabric the had lots of colors to tie it together.
Below are some custom pillows I designed for various client projects. These are older photos – big pillow collections have not been as popular recently. But like all things they will make a comeback at some point.
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Tips for Mixing Patterns and Colors
- Vary Pattern Sizes: Mix patterns of different scales to add depth and visual intrigue. Combine large-scale patterns with smaller ones to achieve balance. For example, pair a large floral print with a small geometric pattern.
- Mix Pattern Types: Combine different types of patterns to create contrast and texture. Experiment with florals, stripes, plaids, geometrics, or abstract designs. Opt for a mix of organic and structured patterns for a balanced aesthetic.
- Use a Unifying Element: Incorporate a unifying element to tie the patterns together. This could be a common color, motif, or texture that appears in each pattern. It helps create cohesion and prevents the patterns from appearing too random.
- Consider Visual Weight: Be mindful of the visual weight of each pattern. Some patterns may be more visually dominant than others. Distribute patterns evenly throughout the space to create a balanced and harmonious arrangement.
- Pay Attention to Scale: Consider the scale of the patterns in relation to the size of the room and the furniture. Large patterns may overpower a small space, while tiny patterns may get lost in a larger room. Balance the scale of the patterns accordingly.
- Experiment with Textures: Mix patterns with different textures to add dimension to the space. Combine smooth, rough, soft, or shiny textures alongside the patterns to create a visually rich and tactile experience.