Pattern Mixing 101

By Shannon Pennell

Mixing patterns in a room is a great way to add color, interest, and depth. It also gives the room a custom look. There are a few things over the years that have helped me avoid making mistakes when mixing patterns. Here are some lessons I’ve learned through the years. 

1. Work with an odd number of patterns

Odd numbers tend to look best, so I usually start with three different patterns in three different scales. If the room is large, mixing five patterns together can be challenging, but can be amazing in the end. 

2. Use varying scales of patterns

Patterns can compete with one another if you don’t vary the size. If you are using three patterns, chose a large, medium and small pattern. 

3. Look for a large pattern that incorporates all your colors

When I begin a new project, I like to start with my “inspiration” fabric. This is the fabric that makes the biggest statement in the room. It should be the biggest, boldest pattern and should include most, if not all of your colors. From there, chose a medium size pattern that has some of your colors. The smallest patterns only needs to contain a couple of the colors. 

4. Large patterns work best on large pieces, small patterns on small pieces

A large pattern works best on a large item, such as a wall (wallpaper), area rug, or window treatment. Large patterns can also be used to make a chair or cocktail ottoman be the “wow” piece in the room. Sometimes small patterns can look busy when used in large amounts. 

5. Add a solid to the mix

Beautiful rooms will always have at least one or two solids in the room. Solids will help soften and ground the look. 

6. Balance your patterns in the room

Not only should you balance the scale of your patterns, but you should scatter them throughout the room. This keeps the eye moving and prevents a “lop-sided” feeling. 

7. Stick with a consistent hue

Use colors that have the same intensity. A bright color will overpower a soft one. 

8. Don’t be afraid to break the rules!!

Sometimes patterns and prints come together in an unplanned way. Various patterns and colors don’t need to “match” each other, they just need to “go” together. If it looks good to you, then go for it!