07 December, 2009

Mix It Up

By Lisa Peck
Maybe it's my upbringing in a room with large scale patterns featuring hot pink, white and purple poppies but I am all for using pattern in interiors. One of the most terrifying aspects of putting a room together for the less experienced is mixing patterns. There is a science and an art to it (okay a lot more art). There are some basic rules to follow that will prevent a pattern mix disaster. By mixing patterns in a room you can create a look that is exciting, surprising and visually interesting.
Fear of pattern can result in dull interiors. Here are some rooms that are afraid of pattern.
This is a nice look with pattern only on the rug but if you love  pattern and want a room with real personality it might not be the right look for you. Unfortunately, the fear of the pattern mix has resulted in a mass marketing of this look with slightly different themes for decades.
Clean lined and sophisticated but is it fun or intriguing?
These are some great examples of pattern mix rooms that show a confidence, sense of fun, sophistication or are just plain interesting.


How many patterns...how fun! Notice the common colors and how scale is used. Some geometric and some organic patterns are used and pattern is even tonal in the coverlet and dresser.


Softer colors and fewer patterns but still a brilliant pattern mix. Both of these images are from Jeffers Design Group in California


This monochromatic pattern mix is traditional, easy to put together but still fun and fabulous.


This room by the LiLu Team uses pattern mix in a formal dining room to keep it friendly and inviting.

Basic Pattern Mix Tips:

1. Mix three or more patterns in a room and vary the scale of each pattern. One large, one medium and one small scale pattern at a minimum. Also, always try to use an odd number of patterns for the most successful mix.

2. Vary the nature of the pattern...one organic with two geometric (one plaid, one stripe) or Two organic (one large scale floral , one small overall vine) and one geometric (one plaid).

3. Keep the formality or informality of the fabrics in the same vein. (This is especially important for pattern mix newbies). Think about the base fabric, texture and sheen. Linen backgrounds vs. silk backgrounds. By sticking with like fabrics it makes it easier to be successful.

4. Use related colors to keep the mix tied together. By having an anchor pattern with all the colors in the room in it and then mixing in patterns that feature some of the colors but aren't totally unrelated you ensure success.

5. Take some chances. Wit and humor come from taking a chance. Try throwing a vintage pattern, a unexpected twist of found ethnic or urban chic print added to a basic mix can take things to the next level and express individual personality.

This week our details will feature some fun pattern mixes that illustrate how to mix pattern with a few rule breakers thrown in.

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