Transform your space from drab to dynamic and add personality, pizzazz, flair and fun by playing with patterns like a pro. From geometrics to florals, Aztec to stripes, mixing and matching patterns and textiles can be a headache-inducing hot mess – unless of course you’re armed with a few insider insights…
Where to begin?
At the beginning of course. If you’re new to the idea of splashing pattern about then pick one you really can’t live without and start from there. A big, bold pattern is an easier focus point than a smaller detail, so go large and complement with safer solids if you’re feeling a little timid about going totally over the top.
The secret is scale
When talking pattern, interiors expert talk in terms of scale. For the rest of us, that translates into size. If we categorise patterns as large, medium-sized and small – large might be a bold floral, medium a chevron and small a dainty gingham – then it becomes somewhat more straightforward.
The best way to expertly blend patterns is to only use one pattern from each scale, so don’t mash up wide and narrow stripes….opt instead for wide stripes with a small spot, or small stripes with a large paisley – or whatever else takes your fancy.
Some kind of cohesion
While the idea of pattern play is somewhat about clash and contrast, there is an art to it, and repeating colour throughout various patterns is a prime tool designers use to achieve a cohesive look that doesn’t look too matchy-matchy.
Examples include repeating a secondary colour – rather than the main colour from the boldest pattern – in a secondary pattern or a solid piece, such as a sofa; or choosing two subtle patterns in different complementary colours (such as duck egg blue and red, burgundy and navy) and then using a bolder third pattern which includes both colours to bring it all together.
Go beyond textiles
Remember to look beyond textiles for pattern play inspo. You can repeat motifs in artwork, stripes in timber panelling or shapes from elements of furniture, such as a circular table or X-shaped table base.
Work the whole room
It’s easy to feel the only options to introduce pattern are in rugs, cushions and artwork. Those are certainly tip-top choices, but don’t forget to consider the whole room from ceiling to skirting – think about curtains, wallpaper, blinds, throw rugs, upholstery, furniture and accessories.
Scared? Start small…
If you don’t want your first quest for pattern perfection to be in the largest room in the house, then start small. Why not try it out in the nursery, guest bedroom, study or powder room? Cushions, prints and throws are also safe places to start – so perhaps try your ideas on a smaller scale before you go and out and order a six-seater sofa in custom Chinoiserie.
Try it with texture instead
If the concept of clashing colour and vibrant pattern make you a little dizzy, why not try mixing textures and layering things up instead? By combining animal hide, faux fur, tweed, fringing and pom-poms you can create an intriguing interior with depth – without over-the-top detail or crazy colour combos.
Playing with pattern doesn’t always mean going bold and bright. Subtle, muted tones are just as effective. Add animal print to a neutral scheme for a fresh look that’s not forced, or incorporate plaid, stripes, geometric prints and paisleys in pretty pastel shades or chic camels and khakis for a sophisticated take on mis-matched style.
Always in style, mixing solids and patterns in brilliant black and white produces an urbane, modish look that’s always going to stay in style. Try bold stripes with small dots – and a dash of black and white blooms – and remember liberal lashings of solid black and white will keep the overall scheme looking curated rather than chaotic.
Check out our go-to-gallery for instant inspo and easy picks to use pattern like a pro at your place or