When I think about pattern mixing, I immediately think about Solange Knowles. She’s just amazing at it and makes it look effortless.
We all know Interior Design and Fashion are closely related so it’s always a good idea to look at fashion for inspiration and vice versa. When I decided to write this post, that’s what I did. I looked at some of my favorite Solange Knowles outfits. I also looked at some of my favorite pattern mixing bloggers and designers. From there I developed Pattern Mixing 101.
The “rules” are simple. There are only 3 of them. FYI: I put rules in quotations because I am in no way speaking in absolutes. Rules can and will always be broken.
Combining patterns can take some time to get it right. Too many patterns can be overwhelming and compromise the intended outcome of the space. The better understanding you have, the more complex your pattern mixing will be. Once you know how to mix pattern for your home, the possibilities will be endless! So the big question is:
HOW DO I PATTERN MIX LIKE A PRO?
Well I’m glad you asked! I will be focusing on the pillows in the picture example. I think pillows are a great place to start! These “rules” are meant to work together. If you follow all three, you should be able to create really great pattern combinations.
RULE #1: UNDERSTAND COLOR
You have to have an understanding of color to get the best results when pattern mixing. I suggest picking up a color wheel at your local art supply store. This will give you a greater understanding of the different color schemes such as complimentary, monochromatic and analogous. Once you understand the schemes, you will be able to create color palettes. From there, you can use the color palette to choose patterned materials to produce unexpected pattern combinations that are cohesive and balanced. Erika of BluLabel Bungalow uses a color palette generator. A color theory book may be a good idea as well.
RULE #2: DIVERSIFY THE SCALE
The biggest fear in pattern mixing is clashing. Understanding scale can completely delete this fear. When you are choosing materials/fabrics for your space, the best beginner tip I can give you is to choose one large scale pattern and one small scale pattern.
Large Scale + Small Scale = Unified Composition
The idea is to create a cohesive look. Two or more large scale patterns can create confusion for the eye. Two or more small scale patterns can cancel one another out. The image above shows a large scale geometric patterned pillow and a small scale black and grey patterned pillow. As you can see, they don’t clash.
Remember when I said rules can and will be broken? In the picture example, there are actually three large scale patterns. The reason it works is because the largest scaled pattern is black and white. Black and white patterns can coordinate with anything. Also, notice there is a separation of the patterns. Intentional spacing aids in the cohesive look.
RULE #3: BALANCE IT ALL OUT
Scale and Balance are closely related. You can’t mention one without the other. How do you balance out 2 or more patterns? You do it with a solid or a texture that has simple detail. Balance creates harmony and connection. From here you can add additional patterns that include the solid colors. The example picture displays this flawlessly.
Three simple “rules”! Easy, right?! I really hope this was helpful and concise. For more pattern mixing inspiration I suggest you look at Kelly Wearstler, Amber Lewis, Naomi, Jamie and David Hicks…to name a few. Pinterest is also a good resource! Now tell me:
ARE YOU A BEGINNER OR PRO PATTERN MIXER? IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD ADD?
Images from The Design Files and Design Manifest with adjustments and text added.