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Element #7: Pattern in Interior Design

Using patterns in interior design can be one of the most fun parts of putting a space together. A pattern is made up of repeated shapes, colors, or lines on an object. Patterns can be anywhere in a room—on the walls, floors, ceiling, furniture, or window dressing. Patterns bring a lot of energy and excitement into your home. They are also great for masking life’s little disasters, the spills and stains that sometimes make life with pets and children especially challenging.

Getting comfortable with using patterns or mixing patterns can feel overwhelming, especially at first. Once you understand some key rules about using patterns in interior design, you’ll be able to choose patterns for your space with confidence. Here are three tips that will take the mystery out of choosing patterns.

Use the Rule of Three

If you’ve learned much about interior design, you’ve probably come across the rule of three in the principle of scale and proportion or in grouping items on shelves or tables. The rule of three says that our eye prefers groups of odd numbers of items. This rule can also be applied to choosing patterns for your room.

First, limit yourself to no more than three patterns to a small or medium-sized room. Too many patterns will become busy and overwhelming. It can make your space feel crowded, or tire our eyes.

Additionally, you may choose to have a single pattern repeat in three places in your room. This repetition guides our eye through the space, creating a sense of movement and rhythm. It’s a great way to craft a simple, sophisticated look, too.

Vary the Scale of Your Patterns

Using Patterns with Different Scales

Whether you’re mixing patterns or repeating a single pattern, creating some variation in the size of the pattern is another way to add interest without overwhelming a room. This is especially true when you have two patterned objects next to one another. For example, if you have a couch with a floral pattern and a striped pillow on top of it, be sure the two patterns are different scales. If the couch pattern is large, choose a small print for the throw pillow, and vice versa.

Experiment with different sizes of patterns in your room. Large or small, bold patterns can be playful and dramatic. Subtle patterns can be quiet and sophisticated. Pairing them together can create a perfect balance and brightness in your room.

Keep to Your Color Family

One thing you don’t want to vary in choosing patterns to mix and match is your color scheme. Limit your choice of patterns to colors in the same color family. If you’re having trouble finding a pattern to pair with a particular color, try finding a neutral pattern or solid with a lot of texture. For example, check out this Better Homes & Gardens article on ten ways to use a checkerboard pattern in your décor.

Choosing patterns within a narrow color scheme helps prevent choosing patterns that clash or compete with each other. Using a neutral base in your room will also allow you the flexibility to experiment with patterned accessories that are less expensive to replace. This way, if you get tired of a particular pattern or decide you don’t like something, you can change it easily and try something new.

Explore Patterns with a Mood Board

Still struggling to choose patterns for your room? Let me create a Mood Board specifically for you with patterns, furniture options, and color choices that will make putting your room together a snap. Contact me now to get started.