Tips for Mixing Patterns

If the idea of combining patterns leaves you weak in the knees, heed these simple tips. It's not as hard as you think to mix prints.


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  1. Coordinated groups of fabrics and wallcoverings can make it simple to combine two or more patterns. But even if you do it yourself, remember that by varying the scale of your patterns, you can combine them with confidence.
  2. Start with an existing carpet, wallpaper, or paint color. If you have nothing to start with, then search first for a favorite fabric to anchor your overall color scheme. In this room a medium-size floral pattern was selected for the bed.
  3. As a general rule, a good mix includes a small-, a medium-, and a large-scale pattern. Ideally, each pattern or the fabric's color should be repeated at least once in the room.
  4. Mixing various types of patterns is a good way to get started. Think florals with stripes and checks.
  5. Be careful with pattern on the walls. Before you buy wallpaper or do a paint technique, always look at it from a distance of at least ten feet so you'll have an idea how the pattern will look in a room. Because the first rule of thumb is to vary the scale, any wallpaper used on the wall should be stepped down in size from a pattern on upholstery or bedding.
  6. Don't feel compelled to match colors perfectly. Choose colors that blend beautifully, and when set on the same neutral background, make the mix even more eye-pleasing. The bottom line: Make sure all of your patterns have at least one color that is similar, even if it is a background or neutral.
  7. Finally, in a room with multiple patterns, make sure there's a place for the eye to rest. It could be as small as the lacy white pillow nestled into the chair. The pillow, poster, and other white accents also help separate and highlight the patterns.

Working with Patterns

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