Kathleen Mapson & Company


8 Tips to Mixing Patterns

Hey everyone! So one of the questions I received recently was from a friend that wanted to know about mixing patterns, whether it is through pillows, window panels, throws, etc. And since I have been having a little writer's block I figured why not write a post about it. Now you will find lots of information in the blogosphere with different approaches to mixing patterns. Below is my personal process to successfully getting it done. Rules I Follow,99% of the time =) Whenever I am trying to pull together a group of fabrics there are always some rules I keep in the back of mind. And I must admit, I have actually broken a rule or two because, well...I just wanted to. It happens sometimes when you are trying to create a certain look. But in order to break the rules you have to know them first.

So here are my rules/tips on selecting the RIGHT patterns in order to achieve a COHESIVE look.

Tip #1 Start with a base pattern/color. A base pattern (that's what I like to call it), is your jumping off point; it will direct you towards your other selections. When you are looking for other fabrics, pull those colors from your base pattern. It will complement perfectly every time. *pinky promise*

Below the base pattern is the honeycomb fabric. See how all the other fabrics play so well together with it?! =)

Tip #2 Select at least three different patterns/colors.In design you always here us talking about doing things in odd numbers, especially threes and fives. This just always works. It adds interest, allows for dimension or depth, and provides enough opportunity to create varied textures, sizes (of pillows), and different scales for your patterns. When thinking of mixing patterns especially for pillows also keep in mind the power of odd numbers when it comes to how many pillows you are using as well.

Rule Breaker...You Bet This also happens to be one of my golden rules that I actually break from time to time. Remember the children's playroom space I blogged about? I used a heap of patterns, probably more like 15. It worked because all of the colors complemented each other and there were places the eye could rest with all the creamy whites around the room. Below are three of the main patterns used in that space. Notice how the creamy white helps to break up all the color (which happens to be Tip #5).


Tip #3 Select patterns/colors that complement each other. Colors do not have to be all matchy, matchy, all the time, but they should complement or blend with one another. The same with the patterns.Now if you are going for a more monochromatic look, just make sure that your pattern colors share a similar story in undertones, depth of color, intensity, and/or richness.


Tip #4 Vary the scale of your patterns. When selecting fabrics/textiles, you want the scale of your pattern to vary. For example, a large pattern with a medium or smaller pattern, and/or possibly a solid helps to add interest and helps to balance the patterns.


Tip #5 Add some white or cream (my favorite thing to do). I also believe that you should always give the eye a rest by including white or cream. When the right amount is used, it can add calmness and lighten up your grouping. There is one little thing about whites though, try to be consistent in the shade of white you use. All whites are not made equal. Sometimes if you put a super creamy white right beside a bright white, the super creamy white may come off to look a little dingy. And we don't want any dingy whites.

Rule Breaker...You Bet Juxtaposing white and cream - this is also one of those little rules that I may break depending on how close the creamy white is to the bright white. Sometimes I use both in the same room.


Tip #6 Add some texture. Texture plays up on our senses. The way a textile feels can be just as important as the way it looks. When you are working with a monochromatic color scheme, texture can take center stage. See the velvety stripes and the silver checkered pattern? It ups the anty wouldn't you say?! If the texture was not there, this room may look a bit flat because the color scheme is more simplistic. The texture ups that anty wouldn't you say?!

Rule Breaker...You Bet Sometimes I don't add 'real' texture. I can be okay with all cotton everything as long as the scales and patterns are interesting.


Tip #7 Balance is everything. Balance is one of the golden rules. **My writer's block lifted a little with this post, so I am also in the process of writing about some golden rules to design now. So stay tuned!** You never want your space to feel lopsided or heavier on one side. And the way you mix your patterns and place them in your space could make or break your overall scheme.

Make sure to sprinkle your patterns and colors throughout your room. Remember the ATL Bachelor's Pad? Please don't pile up all your patterns on your sofa and leave your arm chairs empty. They like a little action too! You have to invite everyone to the party - that's what makes your space feel more complete, more well designed, and more interesting. 


Tip #8 Take risks and own it. We all have different tastes. So in the end it is more about doing what you love, using fabrics you love, and bringing them together in a way that is meaningful to you. Rules or not, it is all up to you! So have some fun with it!

Hopefully you found these tips helpful and you can use them the next time you are trying to mix things up a bit! Do you have any rules/tips that you follow when mixing patterns? I would love to hear about them below!

Making Home, Home!