We’ve talked about lighting and we’ve talked about rugs. Today its all about pattern mixing, which for me in my own home, and very often for my clients, means pillows, curtains, or bedding. Since I tend to campout in neutral land and I like for my large expensive purchases to be able to stand the test of time (and my ever changing taste) I generally go for solid pieces of furniture and curtains (we’ll get to those in another post). But when it comes to mixing and matching patterns, pillows are where its at for me.
I used to feel so daunted by pattern mixing. I loved examining the work of designers and seeing a room that felt so put together, yet in an effortless way that wasn’t overly “designed” or matching. I just couldn’t quite grasp how they did it.
source– House Beautiful
At some point in my “research” and blog hunting, I took a brief online course all about creating a color scheme and pattern mixing. It was like it finally all made sense. I’m still no expert and definitely have a lot to learn of course (that’s why this is UNschool), but it was really very simple once someone explained it to me and I started playing around with patterns in my own home. And by the way, I still love to examine the work of my favorite designers, looking at each element and determining what is it that makes the room so great. That’s my design school.
Its best to start with your busiest pattern, your pattern with the most color. Find something you love that contains all the colors you want in the room, and maybe even a few extra. If you are color-phobic like me, I have found that a good rule of thumb is for at least one pattern to have 4-5 colors and no less. This is so you don’t end up matchy-matchy. Remember the goal here is to not have everything match. We’re not necessarily picking out colors that you must adhere to. Just finding your inspiration.
Next, add in a more simple or subtle pattern to contrast. In order to do this, you must consider the scale of each pattern. If you have a very large scale pattern, add in medium and small scale patterns.
Similarly, consider the type of pattern. All geometric patterns is overkill. Try a floral mixed in. Or a stripe mixed with an ikat. Too many patterns of the same scale and/or type will look busy.
Something else to consider is the background color of the patterns. I love a nice crisp white, but if every pattern is on white, they will start to blend together. Its good to have some creamier colors in the backgrounds for contrast and yes, you can definitely mix white with ivory.
Its always nice to have a solid with some texture to balance it all out. I like to do this with a velvet or linen pillow to contrast with the sofa fabric. Do you feel like your sofa is too dark? I always encourage my clients to add in some oversized white or ivory solid pillows. This helps to lighten everything up.
Now, we could definitely leave it as is, but for a little more dimension and color, I’ve added in one more pillow- the wild card. Its just for some extra texture or contrast. For this example, I pulled from the pinks in our original pattern, but the scale and background of the florals are different.
These concepts don’t just apply to pillows. Its the same when considering patterns on rugs, curtains, bedding, even furniture pieces for the brave among you. Remember to consider scale, type of pattern, the background color of the pattern, and always add in solid colors and textures when its feeling busy. Don’t go for matchy-matchy, go for compliment and contrast.
So that’s it for today- class is dismissed!