5 Simple Rules for Mixing Patterns

5 Simple Rules for Mixing Patterns

Mixing patterns in your home isn’t intimidating with our 5 helpful tips.


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1. Use the rule of three. Decorating with three patterns creates visual interest without feeling excessive. It’s also important to vary the size, or scale, of your patterns. You want one large, one medium and one small. For example, an oversized ikat pattern with chevron stripes and a small-scale geometric trellis print.

Tip: For softer, understated style, use two styles of the same pattern. Think big and little floral patterns with medium-scale plaid.

2. Match colors. Pick two colors in your biggest, boldest pattern, add a second pattern (and some solids) that shares one or both of them, and then a third that introduces a new hue. To pair them like a pro, use the color wheel. Just be sure they share the same intensity — all jewel tones, all pastels or all earth tones, for instance.

Tip: Ease into pattern mixing with a monochromatic color scheme, picking patterns in different shades and tints of the same color.

3. Embrace variety. Florals and stripes are a foolproof place to start, but as you get more comfortable with pattern mixing, have fun with it! For starters, mix and match a wilder print with a smaller, neater one — paisley with two-toned stripes, animal prints with repeating geometric prints.

Tip: Use our tips for incorporating a mismatched style in your home décor.

4. Set a mood. Different patterns have different personalities. To set a traditional scene in a dining room or entryway, start with a formal pattern like toile or damask. For a cozier feel in the kitchen or bedroom, build from a more casual pattern, like gingham or tribal prints.

5. Don’t underestimate white. Mixing patterns in one color plus white is always a safe bet, but they must match — all bright white, all cream. The same white pulls it together, but different ones can create visual chaos. Another trick of the trade: Pops of white, like a side table or mantel, help create a natural, eye-pleasing balance in the room.

Tip: Use our tips for incorporating a Mediterranean vibe to add a classic touch of white.

Do you have any clever ways to mix patterns? Share them with the community in the comments section below!

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