Upholstery colors and drapery colors should complement each other well. This includes mixing and matching. Take colors and patterns into account as you begin to decide what you want in your home. It’s okay to want bold colors or patterns in your living room, dining room or bedrooms. Just make sure that they agree with each other, or you’ll have a major decorating mess on your hands.
If you have an accent piece, such as an area rug, make this work with the fabrics you choose for your drapery fabrics. Result: A beautiful, well-coordinated room that everyone will love.
Plaid with Stripes? Or No?
Do so judiciously. The stripes can be in neutral tones, with the plaid appearing in a small area elsewhere in the room. While you want visual interest, you don’t want to overwhelm family members or guests.
The neutral tones work well with plaids in muted colors—think pastel colors or muted tones. Thus, when people see stripes and plaids in the same room, they won’t feel like they just got too much visual stimulation.
If you are thinking of stripes with stripes, that can also work. Here, the key is to use different colors and scales (wide stripes and narrow stripes). Find stripe patterns that all have a color in common.
Next, consider balance. You don’t want one pattern to overwhelm the other one. Use a bold pattern, then pair that with a tone-on-tone or smaller-scale patterns.
How Many Fabric Patterns?
In the beginning, when you’re learning how to combine colors and patterns in your home decor, stick to no more than three patterns. This creates visual interest. As long as you include some type of unifying element, it won’t be too busy that the room is too much for you or others.
You’ve probably decided that too much of an attempt to mach exact colors or patterns leads to a room that looks, well, “meh.” That brings up another suggestion. What you choose should not match. Instead, when you put them together, they should just work well together. Again, there’s that common unifier in there.
When you’re looking at patterns to combine or mix, include geometric, floral and something in a size scale that’s much larger or smaller than what designs you have in your two other pieces.
If, for instance, you have a beloved, old rug with a bold paisley pattern, start with that. Choose one of the colors in that rug. This will be the color that you use in your draperies. If that color is burgundy, choose a more-muted tone for the draperies. Use the burgundy in a small-scale plaid. Or choose a striped pattern with burgundy and cream. With these two elements, you have a good start.
Tone on Tone Plus Prints
“Tone on tone” just means different tones of the same color. For instance, light-green, true green and mint green are three tones of the same color. If you have a specific color in mind that will complement your furniture well, use that. If you have a gray upholstery for the sofa and love seat, then other chairs can be a dark gray. Your drapes can be a light silver-gray.
Using tone on tone is risky—if you don’t add any other elements, it may be boring. Add in some prints as well. Using the silvery-gray drapes, see if you can find some that have a subtle pattern in them. Pinstripes work well. Or look for a lightly checked pattern that adds additional zing to the room.
If you have an armchair with a bold pattern in the upholstery, choose the most dominant color, say blue. Get a color wheel. If you look at the color opposite the blue, this is red. Look for striped drapes with a very narrow red stripe. The wide stripes can be white. Here, you have three colors in the decor: blue, red and white.
Decide on the Color Palette You Want
What color palette are you most partial to? Choosing colors can be nerve-wracking, but as long as you remember to choose just one element already in the room you’re redecorating, your choices will be much easier.
Maybe a monotone theme will work well. If your walls are painted light-green or light-blue, then choose taupe or cream for your drapes. Include another element in the furniture, such as stripes. The carpet can pick up on one of these colors to bring everything together. Even though you have two colors and stripes, they will work well together, because you remembered to unify everything with your color choice in your carpet.
White Plus a Colored Pattern
White goes with everything. If your carpet, rugs or furniture have bold patterns that command attention, then white or cream drapes are a natural choice. Let’s say your furniture contains an organic pattern (one that comes from nature). That pattern contains large flowers and leaves. Yet, if you try to find a matching set of drapes, the room will be overwhelmed.
Look at the patterns in your upholstery. If you have a striped or even an ikat pattern (one where the design appears to “bleed” into other areas, choose one of the colors in that pattern for your drapes. If the pattern has greens, creams, topaz and brown, choose one of those colors for your drapes. The drapes will emphasize the design and that color in your furniture.
As you’re considering drapery colors, don’t forget about carpet pattern. Bring in a third color, such as light-brown. Add to that with a very subtle striped pattern. The pattern can be so subtle that it’s an “is it there?” element.
You should have the idea. Now, you can easily look around your room, choose one of its design elements and unify everything by using either a pattern or a color in your new drapes.
Use Scale for Mixed and Matched Patterns
You’ve probably heard, “use large with large and small with small.” This refers to the use of scale in using patterns in your designing. Large pieces of furniture and long or wide drapes almost depend a large-scale pattern.
If you were to try and put a large-scale pattern on a small set of drapes, the pattern overwhelms the drapes.
Use that same scale on the smaller items of decor in your room. Rather than trying to find the very same pattern for smaller items, simply look for smaller patterns. Now that you have the drapes and the smaller items, when you put everything in place and look at your new room, it’s going to look like a pro designed it for you. Rather than looking for drapes with a flowered pattern, shop around for drapes with stripes that pick up on one of the colors in your furniture. Again, you have a well-put-together look that looks like a professional did the work.