Learn How You Can Mix Fabric Patterns Like a Pro

Home Design, Interior Design
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The age-old way to decorate with patterns was to use them on the curtains, couches, lampshades and even decorative throw pillows all in the same pattern. In the past, this was the only way to use patterns in your home. Now it is all about coordinating, complementing, and mix fabric patterns with solids.

How to Choose Patterns

The best thing to do first when redesigning a room or creating a design in a new home is to decide what you want that room to convey. Floral patterns made a room feminine, while animal prints are eclectic and glamorous. Think about the overall look you are going for first.

5 Rules to Pattern Mixing

  1. Choose a minimum of three patterns to include in a room with a varying scale in size. Choose one large, one medium and one small pattern or one large and two medium patterns.
  2. Choose colors with the same intensity. You don’t want to mix pastels with jewel tones. That will look odd in a room; instead, make certain your patterns are in the same hues or palette.
  3. Distribute your patterns evenly through the room. If you place all the patterns on just one side of a room, space will become unbalanced.
  4. Break up your solid patterns with some solid colors. If you place too many patterns in a room, it will be too busy and look like chaos.
  5. Your patterns don’t have to be full of different colors, but you should use different tones to give a room character and depth while remaining elegant at the same time.

How to Use Some of the More Common Patterns

There are literally millions of fabric patterns, which can be overwhelming. Here are some of the most common patterns and how you use them in your space:

Animal Prints

  • Characteristics: Eclectic and wild
  • Common uses: Pillows, statement pieces, rugs, ottomans
  • Pair it with: Any other graphic prints


  • Characteristics: Formal, glamorous and traditional
  • Common Uses: Side chairs, dining room chairs and wallpaper
  • Pair it with: Subtle florals, solids and stripes


  • Characteristics: Feminine and romantic
  • Common Uses: Bedding, pillows, furniture upholstery, wallpaper, draperies
  • Pair it with: Stripes or other geometric patterns such as polka dots and checks in the same color or hue

Herringbone or Chevron

  • Characteristics: Large sizes are bold and energetic while smaller sizes are traditional and formal
  • Common Uses: Use in small doses on curtains, throws and pillows, however in a large scale it works well on custom rugs
  • Pair it with: Any other pattern as long as the colors compliment each other


  • Characteristics: Earthy, globally inspired, exotic
  • Common uses: Pillows, rugs, custom draperies, accent chairs
  • Pair it with: Stripes


  • Characteristics: A hint of formality, Bohemian
  • Common Uses: Pillows, upholstery, draperies, throws
  • Pair it with: Stripes and herringbone


  • Characteristics: Classic and conservative
  • Common Uses: Upholstery of any type and custom curtains
  • Pair it with: Florals

Polka Dots

  • Characteristics: Outgoing and playful
  • Common Uses: Accent pieces on draperies or pillows
  • Pair it with: Stripes and florals in similar colors


  • Characteristics: Timeless and elegant
  • Common uses: Wallpaper, bedding, accent pillows, custom draperies
  • Pairs it with: Plaids and stripes but not with other busy patterns in a small scale such as florals
The most important rule to remember is to balance your patterns with solids for a healthy mix in a room. These tips and tricks will give you a starting place for creating a beautiful living space that suits your personality.
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