A Guide to Mixing Patterns in Your Home

Mixing patterns in fashion happens all the time (I’m always a fan of stripes and florals), but people seem to shy away from doing it in their homes. I mean, other people tend to shy away — not me. I’m a pattern mixing fool, so today I put together a guide to doing just that. Huzzah!

I think of Photoshop as a decorating tool, just as you would consider a designer’s measuring tape or sketchbook. Seeing how everything comes together digitally has been the best way for me to get a good idea of what will work in a space, and I love putting together layouts for you. Below is the guide I’ve created, with 27 patterns matched to perfection.

A Guide to Mixing Patterns in the Home, from Making it Lovely

• You can find the links to all of the patterned chairs and pillows used in the graphic above on my Pinterest board.

The trick to mixing patterns is to start with a bold scale. I like accent chairs in oversized prints, so I begin there. Pick something like this one in pinstripes, or maybe something a little crazy like this one in raspberry ikat or my floral grandma chair. It will be easier than you think to make it work! For example, my chair may seem limiting at first, but there are so many colors in it that it’s easy to find a match. (In my home, that match is of course pink. And now coral too.) Next you add a contrasting pattern. In my case, the next thing would be my pink zigzag rug.

You can stop at two patterns, but you don’t have to. I certainly don’t! Vary the scales enough (something large, something significantly smaller, and then maybe a teensy ditsy pattern), and everything will look fine. This corner of my living room, below, has a whole lotta pattern going on. Bold floral fabric on the chair, a zigzag rug beneath, wallpaper in the room beyond, a textured (read: patterned) side table, art above, a patterned throw, and a patterned pillow. But it all works.

A Guide to Mixing Patterns in the Home, from Making it Lovely

 

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41 Responses to “A Guide to Mixing Patterns in Your Home”

  1. Tanya from Dans le Townhouse July 24, 2012 at 10:24 am #

    Oh gosh, this post is fun! Love your suggestions and the photo with the pillow/throw swap-eroo is mesmerizing. I’ve watched it cycle a few dozen times and MUST get back to work, lol.

  2. Kathryn Humphreys July 24, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    I’m not-so-patiently awaiting my new patterned rug so that I can increase Finn’s anxiety levels dramatically with the pattern mixing. Thanks for the ideas!

  3. Ally July 24, 2012 at 11:16 am #

    This is genius! I’ve followed your blog for a few years now and am continually amazed at the creative things you come up with!! I now finally have a house to try some of these lovely things in. Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. Julia @ life on churchill July 24, 2012 at 11:21 am #

    I admire those who can mix patterns. It doesn’t come naturally to me–I tend to mix colors (right now I have a yellow chevron pillow with a solid pink pillow) but patterns seem so complex! Great post.

  5. Alisha E. July 24, 2012 at 11:21 am #

    Great post, Nicole. Thanks so much for the useful tips, and I am LOVING the patterns you posted–I’m especially obsessed with the plaid and zig zags and the argyle patterns make me want to have a baby girl;)

  6. Crystal July 24, 2012 at 11:43 am #

    How fun! I love, love, love that argyle chair! Now I just need to figure out which pattern mix is best at hiding pet hair…

  7. Ashley July 24, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

    Love this post! I was pouring over Sarah Richardson pictures yesterday afternoon trying to figure out how she mixes patterns so well. I felt like I was starting to get it, and your post confirmed it! Now to put it into practice…

    • Making it Lovely July 24, 2012 at 9:21 pm #

      Oh, she’s fantastic at mixing. I’ve heard her say she aims for something like 10+ patterns per room.

  8. Danielle July 24, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    Love this! I’m always trying to mix it up in our house and tend to get a bit of “oh noooooo!” from my pattern-adverse husband. Hopefully this little how-to will help him see the light! :)

  9. Miss B. July 24, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

    Excellent post, love your more exotic examples I know I would have never thought of them on my own:)

  10. Jill Seidner | Interior Design July 24, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    Great guide, and inspiration for mixing patterns! Love these examples!

  11. Megan (Honey We're Home) July 24, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

    Thank you for this visual!! And the video at the end is GENIUS!

  12. Igor July 24, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    This is fabulous! I love patterns and it is really tricky to work with patterns sometimes. Your guide is really helpful!

  13. Oksancia July 24, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

    Great post! I have just shared it on my social networks! My favorite combination of patterns is the one with stripes and zebras! I love how you decorated your corner with all those great prints. great job! :)

  14. catherine July 24, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

    I love your amy ruppel!

  15. Christina W. July 24, 2012 at 8:24 pm #

    Love this post! About to start digging through your Pinterest in search of that awesome zigzag. Also did you get that stuffed zebra at Pier 1? I have one that looks just like it that I put in my Some Day I Will Have A Baby stash haha.

    • Christina W. July 24, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

      PS where on earth do you house all of your throw pillows when you aren’t using them??

      • Making it Lovely July 24, 2012 at 9:18 pm #

        Four of those pillows stay in the living room (one on the chair, three on the couch), one is from Eleanor’s bedroom, one from the chair in the library, and two are from the bedroom (one of the two is reversible and I showed both sides).

        We use a lot of pillows around here. ;)

        And yes, the zebra was from Pier 1.

      • Christina W. July 24, 2012 at 9:51 pm #

        I thought that was the one! The owl they had at the same time were kinda meh, but I fell in love with that cute, chubby zebra.

  16. Sarah K July 25, 2012 at 8:31 am #

    I LOVE the “stripes option” with the graphic zebra print. Your chair with the changing throw and pillow is so inspiring! You’re right – normally I’d think that the floral pattern was too bold, but it layers beautifully – I think my favorite is when it is paired with black and white. Sarah

  17. Allie July 26, 2012 at 8:18 am #

    I love the side table! Mind sharing where it’s from?

    • Emilee July 26, 2012 at 8:34 am #

      It’s from west elm! I saw it on two tv shows in theist montth

    • Making it Lovely July 26, 2012 at 9:29 am #

      Yep, it’s from west elm. I wrote about it here.

  18. Emilee July 26, 2012 at 8:32 am #

    Where did you get that heart pillow?! It’s adorable!!!!:)

    • Making it Lovely July 26, 2012 at 9:28 am #

      It was a Jonathan Adler pillow that was only available through the now defunct Shop magazine (from six or seven years ago).

  19. The NOW July 26, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

    Just saw this on Pinterest and had to comment! Great post! Thank you! xoxo Elizabeth

  20. Elise July 27, 2012 at 10:28 am #

    Just saw this over on Shutterbean. Great post! I definitely need help in this area. I just moved into my own place less than a year ago and I found that I’ve been playing it safe in terms of decorating. No more!

  21. how2home July 27, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    This is such an amazing post! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge of fabrics with us. This is super helpful b/c i get confused with matching patterns and this is a great guideline! Have an amazing weekend :)

  22. my favorite and my best- MFAMB to you September 10, 2012 at 2:18 pm #

    woah. those are some serious photoshop skills.
    good advice too. i am not the best at this sport.

  23. Blinds.com April 8, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    Such a great resource for mixing patterns. We’ll definitely be sharing this with our followers!

  24. Emma December 18, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

    Check out this great example of mixing floral and stripes on Masters of Sex http://branchedesign.com/blog/2013/11/10/masters-of-sexy-wallpaper

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