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The ultimate guide to clashing patterns!

Izelle du Pisanie Izelle du Pisanie
by Design Studio Details Eclectic
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The old wives tale that you shouldn’t mix different patterns together has long since been debunked, and using several, often contrasting, patters together have become one of the staple features of interior design and decoration.

It is true that mixing different types of patterns and trying to match them with one another can be a substantial challenge, especially if you have no idea what will work and what not. The biggest mistake would be to start choosing patterns at random without consideration of the environment.

As usual, your friends here at homify will help you out with this nifty guide on how to use different patterns together and capitalise on the contrast. There are several tips contained in this guide, so prepare yourself for a few hacks that might improve your interior design strategy significantly.

Select a neutral base colour

When it comes to pattern mixing, the key is to keep things classy. Large or bold prints can be used in various combinations in a very tasteful manner. The secret to this, however, is to start off with a neutral colour as your base. Use this colour on the wallsand flooring of your room, then layer the space with fitting bold prints where appropriate.

Keeping to the neutral theme, make sure that the furniture in the room are all in earthy, neutral tones. This will neutralise the different bold patterns you have used, and will give your space a subdued and comfortable feeling.

Choose your colour palette

A good place to start with any decorating situation, regardless if patterns are involved or not, is by deciding on the colour palette that you want for the space.

One of the biggest challenges in mixing patterns is the ability to foresee which patterns will look good with others and which will clash. Well, before you concern yourself with different patterns, though, you you’ll firstly have to consider colour, which is an important component of any design.

When choosing your palette, decide whether warmer colours or cooler colours are the ones for you. Now you can go ahead and choose one or two main colours, as well as one or two accent colours to create character and depth in your room.

Don't be afraid to mix large and small prints

You might think that you need to keep the relative scale of patterns in the same range in order for it to work, but this is not necessarily the case. Large-scale patters can flawlessly intermingle with smaller ones, that is to say if they both remain within the same colour family. It all goes back down to choosing your colour scheme carefully.

A variety of different scales will actually make space feel warmer and more comfortable, filling up the visual area without wasted space or overburdened designs. Use dominant, large-scale prints in your artwork and window treatments, while saving the smaller ones for pillows and other textiles throughout the home.

This room by Dzemesyuk & Yurov Design shows a beautiful large-scale pattern on the floor, complemented by subtler patterns and jewel tones throughout. 

Draw inspiration from art and life

Choosing patterns for your interior design scheme shouldn’t become a dreaded and confusing task, but alas, this is often the case. It is easy to become overwhelmed with the variety of patterns and colours available. Instead of getting caught in this confusion, find things that you truly love, whether it be the foliage of a certain tree or Art Nouveau style, and draw inspiration from it. Using patterns based on the things you really like will make your task so much simpler!

Use uniue patterns from unusual sources

LIVING ROOM - project cool flat by Severine Piller Design LLC Eclectic
Severine Piller Design LLC

LIVING ROOM—project cool flat

Severine Piller Design LLC

We never know what we might find when we leave our home each day, and sometimes you just might find a lovely pattern that is perfect for your home. Be open to surprises and see if there is anything that you might find in your day-to-day life that you can incorporate into your interior design scheme.

Another great way to find interesting patterns for your home is on your travels to other countries. You may not only find a unique pattern that is perfect for your space, but the foreign object can also give a charming exotic touch to the room.

You can also try and find a pattern you love and mimic it throughout your décor. You can do this in the bedroom, for example, where the duvet, pillows, curtains and lampshade all have the same pattern in different scales and colours

Limit patterns to a maximum of four

So now we have motivated why you shouldn’t be afraid of mixing and matching different patterns, as well as encouraged you to try many. We do, however, have to draw the boundary somewhere, since too many different patterns can clutter the visual space and become a kitsch nightmare.

The standard would be to stick to a maximum of four patterns in any one room, professionally coordinated according to the colour scheme and furnishings of the room. Choose one or two large-impact prints for decorative items, while toning things down in the other furnishings with smaller and more dynamic prints.

What you should also do is use varying saturations and tint levels of the same colour in different patterns. The result will be varying levels of impact, and also an increased sense of depth in the room.

Take texture into account

Whilst four is a good standard to limit yourself by, there will naturally be exceptions. When it comes to different textures, you will have to add another level of consideration to your choice of patterns.

Very prominent textures can often be an entire pattern on its own, cause confusion in a decoration scheme if not properly considered. Either stick to having textured surfaces in solid (preferably neutral) colours, or if you have a significantly textured and patterned piece, make sure that you have even less differing patterns in the same area.

Use wallpaper for a quick pattern update

Throughout this article you may have only been thinking about textiles, and that might be the area where patterns are most applicable. We mustn’t, however, forget a tried and true medium that has been displaying a wide array of patterns since time immemorial – wallpaper.

Wallpaper is a good option to bring either bold or subtle patterns into your room, but keeping it in the background, as to not overpower the furnishings and decoration of the space. If you are looking to use a bold print for your wall, consider using it on an accent wall behind a main furniture piece of the room (like a bed or dining table), whilst using a smaller print or solid colour for the other walls.

While we're on this topic, wouldn't you like to learn: How to make your own fabric wallpaper?

Treat animal prints like neutrals

Lastly, we come to some of the most popular patterns in home decoration – animal prints. Some people shy away from using these, as they believe animal prints may be too loud or overbearing in an interior design setting.

We think animal prints are a winning choice, but there is a secret to using them correctly. Animal prints should be treated like neutrals, as we discussed in the first segment. In this manner, you will ensure that these prints do not overwhelm the design, but rather blend seamlessly into the room. Don’t forget to layer with more neutral furniture!

Which of these pattern tips were most helpful? Do you have a favourite pattern? We'd love to hear from you!
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