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© LISA BRADBURN 2017
Design tips

Mixing Patterns and Prints in Interiors

22 January 2019

Introducing pattern into a decorative scheme can be intimidating but adds so much personality to a room. The trick to learning how to get it right is start with some basic design rules. Once you start to feel more confident you can experiment a little more. Below are my tips on how to successfully introduce pattern into your interiors.

START WITH WHAT YOU LOVE AND BUILD FROM THERE

This is always one of the key pieces of advice I give my clients. If you start with a fabric, wallpaper or rug that you love you can start to build a decorative scheme from there. The most prominent pattern in the room sets the tone and colour scheme for the rest of the space. It is a brilliant starting place to anchor the room.

Sounds so simple, so what do I mean by this? One idea is to look for a multi-hued pattern that incorporates your favourite colours. Then the dominant colour in the pattern can be used on the walls for instance, and the other colours as your secondary colours. Use these colours on secondary pieces in the room, such as upholstery, cushions and lamps. Continue to build the scheme until you have represented all of the colours from the dominant fabric somewhere in the room. In this example a bold print has been used on the headboard with a smaller scale print. The curtains include pattern down the leading edge, which is another trick to introduce pattern without dominating the room.

Colour Scheme Ideas for interior design
colour scheme idea patterns
LAYER DIFFERENT SCALES OF PATTERN

Think about how you mix scales of pattern. A very simple formula is to have three different prints: one large-scale print, one medium and then one small. And then intersperse with plains. The difference in scale and blocks of plain colour means the patterns aren’t competing with each other. I’d apply this for instance to how I mix cushions on a sofa. Take the example below. In one example I’ve used a plain fabric on the sofa, one large-scale print with all the colours of the scheme and then smaller scale prints in each of those colours. One of those smaller scale prints is repeated on the blinds.

It’s a rather simplistic formula but it’s a good place to start! Once you start to feel comfortable with this you can experiment. The other thing I do is to have a plain fabric on the back of patterned cushions. If you find yourself getting bored on the pattern you can just turn it around!

FOR CALMER SCHEMES COMBINE PATTERNS WITH SIMILIAR FORMS AND SHAPES

Sticking to a specific form of pattern creates cohesion in a space and a sense of calm. A common mistake to make is to combine patterns that have a very different shapes (e.g. a floral with a busy modern geometric), just because the colours work together. But that can feel fussy if you are trying to create a relaxed space. If you are creating a more energetic space though these rules don’t apply! Then more is more does work!

Take this example of the combination of tiles with a blind. The tiles are a larger scale version of the type of print on the blind. It feels calm yet still interesting. Without the contrasting tiles the blind doesn’t have as much impact. By layering patterns you can create a much more appealing scheme.

IF YOU FEAR PATTERN, START WITH ACCENTS

Pattern is often something people fear! A good way to start experimenting with pattern is to introduce first on accent pieces such as cushions. If you should get bored of them in a few years it’s very easy to change them around. Once you feel more comfortable consider using patterns on a larger scale item. Pattern in larger scale adds such personality to a space and provide a focal point to a room. I love a big scale pattern on armchairs or a headboard. Take this example of a headboard. The headboard works really well with this wonderful Lewis and Wood headboard and is complimented by smaller scale Fermoie cushions. I chose to pick out the accent pink from the headboard in the two cushions and not introduce another pattern. I wanted to let the fabulous pattern on the headboard really stand out. And in a small room another couple of cushions would feel too fussy.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this article. If you would like help designing your home please do get in contact.