Ask the designer: is there a secret to mixing fabric patterns?

Cool shades of blue and green in this room courtesy of BHG

Notice the mix of geometric shapes tied together with cool shades of blue and green in this room courtesy of BHG

This is a very common concern for many homeowners.  They see photos of beautiful rooms that mix several different fabric patterns but are just not sure how to accomplish the look themselves.

At the risk of pissing off my fellow decorators and designers, there are no real secrets and designers are not magicians. There I said it!   They may have an inherent ability to pull a room together but they utilize guidelines just as the rest of us do and that includes choosing and combining fabrics.  I have done this for so long that I just “know” when it works but there are guidelines that designers follow to pull it all together in a pleasing manner.  One little reminder, I am a firm believer that if it works for you and your family, then it works, and rules and guidelines be damned!  If you need a little assistance, try to follow these guidelines for successful pattern mixing:

1.  Scale is the secret.  Select three different sizes, a small, a medium and a large.  For example, a large floral, combined with a medium plaid and a small pindot.

2.  Similar colors are the glue that binds it all together.  A common color will result in a cohesive color combination.  If you have a bright red and cream buffalo check, for example, make sure that the medium (perhaps a floral)  and small (stripe?) pattern have a touch of red somewhere in the pattern.  If you are unsure what color to go with, pull one of the colors that appear in the largest pattern and run with it.

3.  Your best designer friend is not that woman you found at your local furniture store,your well-meaning neighbor and it’s not even me– it is the neutral.  Don’t overlook the power of a neutral.  While mixing bright and cheerful patterns is common in design styles like french country, there is no rule that says you have to use “in your face” colors.  A soothing combination of neutral patterns can be very sophisticated and, in some cases, allows you to introduce even more patterns to the mix.

Combination of stripes in various color combinations, bound together by the stripe pattern. Courtesy of BHG

Combination of stripes in various color combinations, bound together by the stripe pattern and anchored with a couple of solids. Courtesy of BHG

What do you think?  Is fabric pattern mixing something you can successfully pull of in your own home?  This designer’s number one piece of advice—-for something inexpensive and easy to switch out—try it…if you don’t like it you can change it but imagine how proud you will be if you actually pull it off!!  As one of my favorite clients says “you might as well”.

About hayniedi

What about me? In a nutshell I am a middle-aged interior designer and freelance writer, mother of an amazing 27 year old daughter, wife to my semi-retired lawyer husband and step-grandma to two delicious babies. From my earliest memories I have been fascinated with interior decorating and love to share my passion for beautiful rooms with anyone who will listen. Join me on this blog as my husband and I enter our empty nest years and move back into the first home we bought when we were first married that has been a rental for the past 15 years. I will share our experience with remodeling as well as other ideas and thoughts that I hope will inspire you.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Would love to hear your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s