Design Study: How To Mix Patterns

At Synonymous we are seriously in love with using patterned textiles in projects.  We can't hide it, we have a thing with patterns and the multitude of combinations that we could create with them. Yep, that's it!  Combinations, mixing and matching, that's probably our favorite thing to do during a project concept.  Once we choose the major furniture pieces in a room design, we go ahead and determine the upholstering fabrics, pillow textiles, window treatments, etc.  Fabrics are super important for a project scheme because they are what offer the overall mood for the entire space.  We tend to gravitate towards lighter fabric schemes and perhaps inject a few darker tones here and there for contrast.  In essence, there are a few details that we'll share with you so that you know how to combine patterns seamlessly and without fear.

Mixing Patterns

Mixing patterns doesn't have to be difficult, in fact, go crazy!  I find you could really get away with mixing anything you want as long as you keep within a strict color palette.

1.  COLOR SCHEME:  Select a color palette that involves 2 - 3 colors.  These colors will help convey the mood you want throughout your space.  Lighter colors will surely create a serene atmosphere, while darker tones will help with contrast as well as a more cozy vibe.

2.  PATTERN DESIGN:  This is where the dilemma lies, no?  Well, if you again, stick to 2 - 3 patterns throughout a space, you should end up with an intentional pattern party.  See below a few common textile patterns for your reference.  We did leave out a couple, but these are the ones we love.     

Design Study:  How To Mix Patterns (Textile Patterns) - SYNONYMOUS

3.  SCALE:  The trick to mixing patterns is choosing ones that don't compete with each other.  For example, if you select a paisley and combine it with a check, you can get away with this as long as you make sure the scales vary dramatically.  The paisley could be in a small scale, while the check in a large.  The difference in size will help differentiate between the patterns and allow the colors in the textiles to be even more visible.  Choosing patterns too close in scale will simply distract the eye and fuse the patterns.

Design Study:  How To Mix Patterns (Pattern Scales) - SYNONYMOUS

4.  MOVEMENT:  Even without noticing, we tend to combine patterns keeping in mind how the actual shapes of the objects vary.  This means mixing floral prints with geometric ones, flowing abstract with rigid corners.  The result?  A smart approach to pattern play.  Differences are huge factors in combining patterns because the more different the shapes really are, the more visible the overall combination will be.  Like we mentioned in #1, the trick is to keep within the same color palette for a seamless outcome.

5.  ORIENTATION:  The way the shapes in a pattern lay are essential when mixing & matching.  Orientations further help differentiate pattens in a scheme.  Lines could be oriented horizontally, while a tribal print vertically, for instance.  

Design Study: How To Mix Patterns (Pattern Orientations) - SYNONYMOUS

6.  SOLID SPACE:  It is imperative that at least one pattern in your scheme offers "blank space".  Think about it this way, if all your textiles are completely filled with design you risk overcrowding the eye with pattern.  There are certainly exceptions, but as a rule of thumb, a solid fabric, or even some blank space in any fabric will really lighten the load of pattern, on pattern.  For example, if you choose a medium scale plaid and combine it with a tightly packed herringbone the multitude of lines in these patterns will surely be too much.  Instead, opt for a solid fabric combined with a tightly packed patterns.  

7.  TEXTURE:  This brings us to textures.  If you want an interesting scheme, don't forget to add in some textures into the equation.  These include. velvets, furs, sheen (found in silks and satin fabrics), or embroidery.  The feel and dimension of texture will create loads of interest to the otherwise flat combination.  Truthfully, you don't always have to add in a textured fabric to a pillow mix, but if you don't, make sure to introduce this factor somewhere else in the room such as in a textured rug, upholstered piece in a varying material like shagreen or leather or with the help of a grasscloth wallpaper.   

designer tips 

  • When buying inserts for pillows, buy them 1 - 2 sizes larger than the actual pillow cover for a fuller, more plump look.
    For example:  If your pillow cover is 22" x 22" use a 24" x 24" Pillow Insert
  • Consider feather or feather and down pillow inserts with a cotton cover
Design Study:  Guide To: How To Mix Patterns - SYNONYMOUS
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