Mix and Match 101
Mix Shades of One Color
The walls in this Fort Wayne, Indiana, dining room have a bold linen print (Bennison's Lorenzo), while the rug has a striped pattern, but they work together because they're in similar colors. "A fluid, curving pattern and a geometric one can look great together, so try it!” designer Markham Roberts says. "You just have to pull out your swatches, try things out, and trust your eye. If it's hideous, try again."
Build Upon One Bold Pattern
The existing striped floors were the stepping-off point in this East Hampton beach house's living room. Then, designer David Mitchell layered different patterns such as gingham, florals, and toile, but kept a neutral color theme in a range of browns, khakis, and beiges. "Now it's all about pattern and contrast," Mitchell says. "Here, we're telling a story about pattern in texture in a range of colors."
Your patterns need to complement one another, so if one is bold, the other shouldn't be too busy. In the kitchen dining area of this Charlotte, North Carolina, house, designer Lindsey Coral Harper transformed dark brown floors with a large geometric pattern, painted by Jay C. Lohmann. "We kept the pattern clean and simple because the ikat on the sofa is so busy," Harper says. She also brightened the space with Benjamin Moore's Inner Glow on the walls and a citron table from HB Home.
Soften Prints with Solids
Designer Ashley Whittaker combined patterns in a Greenwich, Connecticut, sunroom to give it more of a lived-in look. "I always tell clients not to be scared of pattern," she says. "They'll look at six-by-six-inch swatches tightly clustered on a table and say, 'ooh wow. . . that seems like a lot.' Of course I interspersed them with solids and neutrals."
Think of Polka Dots as a Neutral
Designer Krista Ewart used multiple shades of green, punctuated with a pair of upholstered stools, to create a cozy window seat in the living room of a Balboa Island, California, cottage. The polka-dot pattern on the stools acts as non-print. "I use a polka-dot fabric like a solid, but it's a solid with movement," Ewart says. "It excites your eye."
This Ojai, California, living room is awash with bright orange and bold patterns. "Don't go for matchy-matchy-matchy," designer Kathryn M. Ireland says. "I say, if it doesn't go, it goes."
Blend Similar Patterns
If you're nervous about using patterns, start off with similar patterns such as the blue-and-white florals in this Fort Wayne, Indiana, guest bedroom. "I chose the large-scale, stronger blue one first and put it on the walls where you could really enjoy it. Then I put the smaller-scale, slightly faded pattern on the bed and chair to give a bit of relief for the eye and to highlight the shapes of the tufted furniture," Markham Roberts says. The walls are covered in Waverly's Lightfoot House Companion and the bed and chair are upholstered in Bennison's Chinese Paper.