designs on the move

Interior Design blog

Mixing Patterns Like a Pro

by Suzanne M. Harvey

Mixing Patterns Like a Pro

I admit it…I love looking at magazines.  I know this is the digital age but there is something about handling those crisp, glossy pages that draws me in.  It just isn’t the same with my tablet.  As I look through magazines I am always drawn to the pages with rooms full of color and pattern.  And when a stylist has created a room for a spread that has layers of patterns I am truly intrigued.  It pulls me in and leaves me wanting to stretch out on that sofa or bed and curl up with a great magazine.

So how can you achieve that designer look you find in magazines?  The best way to do it is by mixing and matching patterns.  Seems like a daunting task, but you can do it!  With these easy steps you can start mixing patterns like a pro and finally create the look you have always wanted.

Pick the Color:

Take a look at your space and find a coordinating color (Tip: Check your paint store – often they will have a color palette with your wall color. It will give you options to add that are already picked for you).

Pick your 1st Fabric:

Mixing Patterns Like a Pro

As you look at fabrics I suggest starting with something that has a large pattern with several colors in it.  This will help to make your additional selections as you continue to layer.  This will be a fabric that can be used on a larger piece of furniture or for draperies.

Pick your Next Pattern:

Mixing Patterns Like a Pro

Now that you have begun the next choice should be easier (really I promise).  Look for a smaller scale pattern with the same color or colors as the first fabric. I often select a pattern that is botanical or animal inspired.  It adds visual interest and dimension as you build your look.  I love to use these fabrics for bedding or smaller furniture pieces such as side chairs or stools.

Pick Another Pattern:

Now here is where the fun really begins…find a fabric that is predominantly one color that is within the first two fabrics.  For this sample I will show you two options – orange and pink.  For this layer I usually lean toward a more geometric pattern such as a stripe or diamond pattern.  The selections for this example are a trellis design which is very popular right now and can be found in any color. These fabrics are great for accent pieces and pillows.

Pick the Final Pattern:

In this final selection your pattern will be created by texture within the fabric.  This will help to ground the other selections and pull the whole design together.  It will add dimension to the space and yet not overwhelm the space.  These fabrics can be used in any way you like.  It is great for large or small furnishings as well as accents.

So here we are at the end of our layering journey.  By following these tips the designer layered look can be yours.  Are you ready to try your hand at layering patterns?  I can’t wait to see what you can create.  Get out there and mix it up.  Before you know it you will be mixing patterns like a pro.  



  1. JulieK on October 24, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    WOW as someone who is design challenged, this is amazing to have it all spelled out. I never know what to do with patterns b/c I end up liking so many and they don’t go together. Another issue I have is when I find a lot of things I like but nothing that coordinates in the same “tone” – like trying to find a green that goes with another green, etc.
    What are your thoughts on Chevron? 😉

    • Designs On The Move on October 28, 2014 at 4:30 pm

      Julie I love chevron and it is every where. It is easy to find in all kinds of places right now. I would always recommend using it in small ways in a space. Any design that is that prevalent and trendy I am always cautious. You want to spend money on the pieces that will stand the test of time and finish the design with the trendy touches.

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