Patterns in your décor are a great way to add visual interest, complexity, and character to any room in your home. Of course, it’s easy to overdo it with patterns; too much of the same one just doesn’t look right at all, but it’s not hard to mix patterns that clash with each other, either. Fortunately, some simple tips for combining different patterns can help anyone pull of this decorating strategy with the flair of a professional interior designer.
How to Successfully Combine Patterns
- Stick with white or another neutral color for the walls in a room where you’re combining multiple patterns to help prevent the room from becoming too visually busy.
- Limit the décor patterns in a room to a maximum of three or four. More than that, and things are bound to look chaotic no matter how skilled you are at mixing and matching patterns. Generally speaking, two or three works best; you might be able to pull off four successfully in a larger living space.
- Select patterns of different scales. If you’re incorporating three patterns into a room, choose one large, one medium, and one small.
- The scale of a pattern should usually match the scale of the items it appears on. That is, large patterns tend to work best on large items, and small patterns tend to work best on small items.
- Choose a primary pattern for the room that will appear most dominantly. It can either be applied in one significant place (an accent wall, a large area rug, etc.), or it can be repeated in several different places around the room (e.g., furniture upholstery and a wall hanging or two).
- It’s best to use a simple pattern that’s not too busy as your primary pattern.
- The secondary pattern (and any others) should appear less dominantly in the room. Typically, it would be on items like throw pillows, wall hangings, or a small to mid-size area rug. Any additional patterns should appear even less prominently (perhaps on a lamp shade or a single larger decorative item).
- While the patterns will differ, keep them in the same color family. Also, they should have colors of the same intensity; for example, don’t have a primary pattern in jewel tones and a secondary pattern in pastels.
- Offset the style of the primary pattern with contrasting characteristics in the secondary pattern (and any additional patterns). For example, if the primary pattern features large, angular geometric shapes and bold lines, combine it with a pattern that has smaller, softer shapes and lighter lines, like maybe a floral pattern.
- Make sure patterns are distributed evenly around the room. If one side or area of the space is pattern-heavy compared to the rest of the room, things will feel off.
- Avoid having different patterns in direct contact with each other. At the very least, don’t layer more than two patterns in one place. The eye needs a break between patterns, provided by solid blocks of color, to not feel overwhelmed.
- One of the more flexible tips for combining different patterns is to stick with those of the same style. For instance, using three mid-century modern patterns or three contemporary patterns together is often easier to pull off. However, this isn’t always necessarily the case; it’s just one way of approaching your décor that’s generally a little safer.