A true sign of a pro design job is the ability to mix patterns. In the marketplace there are thousands of designs to choose from for every conceivable item – fabrics, wall coverings, flooring, artwork, accessories, window treatments… the list goes on and on.

Being able to pull those patterns together in a way that looks intentional and not haphazard is key. It looks difficult, but if you follow four simple steps, you will be switching up those swatches like a pro in no time!

Step One – Commit to a color. Some designers call this the “mother color” and recommend that the same color be represented, even in some small way, in every pattern used in the mix. White can work, as can black, or any other color in differing saturations. Once the common color is selected, then decide whether to go with a monochromatic look, a contrasting one, or even one main color with one accent shade.

Step Two – Switch the scale. Make sure to select patterns of varying scale so that you add visual interest to the space, not visual clutter. Look for some large-scale patterns, mid-range size patterns, and some small-scale patterns. If you feel confident, mix up the types of patterns as well, using some angular, some curved, some bold, some subtle. Each variation makes the pattern mix that much more interesting.

Step Three – Space it Out. Spread the patterns out in the room to give the eye time to rest between each one. For the same reason, make sure to include some solid colors, some neutrals, both light and dark.

Step Four – Edit. Edit. Edit. One strategy that works for some people is to mix colors and patterns until they feel like the room has one too many, and then remove just one. For others, it takes trial and error, mixing and matching, stepping back and observing (even in varied light throughout the day), then taking a pattern out or putting another one in. A rule of thumb: if it feels like it is “too much” – then it probably is. Edit out a pattern or two and take another look.


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