2012 Interior Design Trends – The Art of Mixing Patterns

A funky patterned bedroom from Living etc

Mixing pattern successfully can be tricky, at times netting a result that looks allot like Minni Pearl from the old Hee-Haw slapstick show, with that price tag hanging from her big straw hat…. The good news is that the “undecorate” movement has transformed loosely associated casual elements into the nouveau posh. I love this new twist, and think that it’s a fabulous shame attacking exercise to assign value by up-cycling elements with good bones, rather than condemn to land fills all that is not pristine and superficial.

Before we begin, we ned to go through the exercise of defining what pattern is.

Pattern is everything that lends a repetitious shape to the area of your design. This can include:

Vintage chairs that features a mix of pattern

  • Fabrics

Wall paper with repeating mirrors

  • Wallpaper, or repeating objects on walls
  • Tile, painted or wood patterned floors, area rugs, or wall to wall carpeting

A style vignette from an Etsy Store

  • Lighting

Repetitious glass drops infuse this design by Tobi Fairly with pattern.

  • Floral arrangements,

floral design by accent decor

window views, French doors lights, wainscoting and moldings all contribute pattern to a space.

Urban and Island views both infuse pattern into your visual space.

A wedgewood ceiling in Buckingham Palace – image from the royals website

In short, any element visible within a room that conveys patterned forms. Understanding that even windows and plants constitute pattern is key for mixing a look that work – every visible shape needs to be embraced to make mixing pattern successful.

If you have read this blog over time you probably think that I am going to repeat yet again that it is not the mix or the brightness of the color palette, but rather your proportionate comfort level (how much pattern you can live with) that governs the out-come – fair enough! But what I was also going to say, is that even if you don’t have intuition as your stalwart guide for fabulous pattern mixing, a few key rules of thumb will allow you to plaster pattern far and wide, and still achieve a look that you love.

Some randomly selected patterns, which include an RSB pendant f and a painting by Georges Braque.

1. Maintaining a few solid islands to relieve the eye in a sea of pattern prevents your design from drowning. It takes a truly savvy designer to affect pattern from ceiling to floor, and all point in between.

2) Choose a starting point, and work your way out, arranging your candidates on a large white sheet of paper first, and THEN add your sample wall color to the paper or foam core board. Just trust me on this point. I began with the painting.

3) Begin by drawing on the least prominent color from your inspiration piece. Pepper your deign with that color, while keeping your larger pieces in keeping with the larger areas of color (as my sample above).

4) Try to develop relationships between the shapes in the patterns. My red/orange bar cart imitates the linear edge on the left of the red area in the abstract painting, as does the open weave pendant, with the round shape in the painting.

5) Mix similar patterns in similar color schemes, but vary the scale of the pattern, starting with the largest on the floor and diminishing in scale as to direct they up. If you pattern is large and linear, vary the direction of the lines. If you have a diamond pattern, relive it with some ikat, paisley or damask – remember, all primary and secondary colors look fabulous in the company of black and white – the stars and starlets on the red carpet!

Porter Design Company