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Mixing Patterns in Decorating

It is common nowdays to see interior designers mix patterns and designs in decorating a room - just check out the decorating magazines and websites online.  It's fun to be adventurous, but as a decorator for more than 25 years, I would keep these things in mind: stick to the color scheme in the room; limit the types of prints or patterns to three or five at the most (in decorating “three” is a magic number); and keep proportion and scale in mind. So here are some tips to remember for the beginner:

1. First, visual your room as a large picture on canvas. Key colors in the room should be repeated throughout the room, in your upholstery, your throw pillows, your window treatments, in your artwork, on the walls and on the floor. Select a dominant color, a secondary color and up to two accent colors to anchor the palette.

2. Choose one multicolored pattern as your primary print and pull different colors and textures to compliment it. All the colors in the patterns/prints should tie in with your color scheme. For instance, if you have a solid blue sofa and you want to add some punch, add various sizes of throw pillows in different prints, but ensure that they are the same colors as your color scheme. So if your color palette is blue, green and yellow, the prints should include at least two of the three colors and relate to each other (in other words, be in the same color family).

3. When mixing, patterns/prints should not be the same proportions, and the colors should be part of your color scheme. For example, you can mix one large plaid with a small plaid; one large floral with a small floral; one large stripe with one small stripe; or one large print or a small print. You can also mix a striped fabric with a floral or a print - as long as proportion and color are kept in mind. However, my advice is to be careful in mixing a plaid or check with a stripe. You can do so, but one pattern should be bold and the other subdued - and all colors should relate to one another. Be sure to pick the patterns carefully, selecting different patterns about half the scale or size of the first pattern.

4. Maintain the same scale (balance) and proportion (size) throughout the room to achieve a comfortable repetition of color and design.

5. Choose three or more patterns. Odd numbers, especially the number three, just seem to work, whether you're combining colors or items in a vignette. Three is the minimum number of patterns you should use, and the key to successful mixing is to vary the scale, from small to large. For the "mixing novice" I recommend starting with three patterns until you get comfortable with mixing prints and patterns.

6. Finally, If you are not accustomed to decorating with different prints, you may feel a little uncomfortable at first. But - try it, you might like it! And, If the look doesn’t appeal to you, go back to decorating your way. Or ask a professional decorator or home stager to assist you. Most of all, have fun with your decorating. 

If you have any comments or ideas about this, please feel free to comment.  Also, check out my "A Goode Start Decorating and Home Staging" Facebook page for lots of pictures.  Happy Decorating!

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