The Homeday Guide to Decorating with Pattern

by Lesley Hill March 16, 2018

The Homeday Guide to Decorating with Pattern

Decorating with pattern can be tricky, but getting it right adds depth, interest and contrast to an otherwise boring room. Read on for a few simple design tips to help you feel more confident bringing pattern into your space.

Tip 1: Proportion your use of pattern
Generally, rooms looks best when about 40-60 percent of the room is patterned (include walls, floors, carpets, sofa, couches, wall hangings, pillows, etc. when you’re thinking about this percentage).  This proportion helps your room to look fresh and interesting without being overwhelming.  Give your eye space to rest by using solid colours and subtle textures on the unpatterned areas of the room.  In this living space by Schoolhouse Electric, the loveseat, pillow, blanket and gallery wall are patterned, whereas the unpatterned areas of the room (shiplap walls, leather chair, area rug and hardwood floor) balance the room, while still adding interest and softness through varied textures.

Homeday guide to mixing patterns

Tip 2: Vary the scale
When you're just starting out, stick to 3-5 patterns in a room and use a mix of large, medium and small-scale prints that share a similar tone.  Try mixing different types of prints such as florals, dots, stripes, geometrics, or abstracts.   In the example below, we mixed a large-scale floral print with a medium-scale stripe and a small-scale geometric print.  These three patterns share a jewel-tone palette, and have ivory white elements in common.

Mixing pattern tonic living  Tonic Living Mixing patterns  Tonic Living Honeycomb Velvet

Tip 3: Think about your focal point
Large-scale patterns draw the eye more than small-scale patterns.  Choose a pattern in a large-scale to highlight a focal point, such as a graphic wallhanging on a feature wall, or a bold floral print on an upholstered accent chair.  Use small-scale patterns for objects or areas that you’d like to recede or camouflage.  (Wondering how to turn a quilt into a wallhanging?  Check out this blog post.)

Mixing pattern gray geese quilt

There you have it- 3 tips to get you started mixing patterns like a pro.  Happy decorating!

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Lesley Hill
Lesley Hill

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