14 Ways to Decorate with Pattern
Mix Monochromatic Prints
The guest room sitting area of our 2011 Idea House pairs several motifs within one color family for a cohesive look. Three different patterns, from preppy stripes to repeating florals and ikat dots mix easily thanks to sharing the same moss green hue and being paired with neutral, beachy elements, like the seagrass rug.
See the rest of the 2011 Idea House.
Let Fabric Be Your Guide
The beautiful suzani pattern on the sofa was the starting point for our 2013 Showhouse lounge’s modern, Moroccan aesthetic. For additional interest, designer Ginger Brewton introduced an assortment of prints—quatrefoil pillows and zigzag shades—which reads as cool and not crazy due in part to the patterns’ vastly different scales.
See the rest of the 2013 Showhouse.
Mix and Match in the Bedroom
What might seem like a pattern overdose comes together to create a serene space (important in a bedroom!) when you use a single color. Pick a shade you truly can’t get enough of, like this leaf green, and the rest will be smooth sailing. Designer and homeowner Ramey Caulkins matched the headboard fabric to the bed skirt for a cohesive look, and kept the room’s accessories subtle. The bird wall art works nicely thanks to its soft green frames.
See more of this Penobscot Bay, Maine, home.
Use One Large-Scale Print
In the master bedroom sitting area of this Carpinteria, California, home, designer Tim Clarke chose a hand-blocked fabric to dress the windows. “The damask print gives the space that traditional warmth, but the large scale of the repeat adds a contemporary twist,” he says. It works especially well here because it’s among the few patterns in the room. “One big print with some oomph goes a long way,” he says.
Get the look: The drape fabric is Regello in Bay on Soft Blue from Le Gracieux. The sectional sofa is custom by Tim Clarke. The sofa fabric is Castel Messina in Celadon from Donghia. The side table is from Mecox Gardens.
See more of this California home.
Play to Your Surroundings
In this Cohasset, Massachusetts, home, the designer looked first to the ultimate muse for inspiration: "We didn't want to compete with the amazing views," she says. "So we chose a palette that supports and enhances the surroundings, like the soft, soothing blues, greens, and beiges of the natural environment." The breakfast room takes the palette a step further, incorporating playfully patterned fabrics in shades of turquoise, green, and orange. The room gets a modern touch with the zebra print rug.
Combine Modern and Classic
In the living room of this Santa Monica midcentury modern abode, a statement-making graphic floral rug sets a boisterous stage for the blue-on-blue theme. Designer Sasha Emerson used timeless patterns against modern bold ones for classic charm with an updated spin.
Get the look: The throw pillow fabric is by Judy Ross Textiles. The Sea solid linen armchair fabric, Suriname throw pillow fabric in Indigo, and Obi vintage side chair fabric are from Raoul Textiles. The armchair is by George Smith. The galvanized metal coffee table is by Suzan Fellman Studio. The rug is from The Rug Company.
Span a Shade’s Spectrum
Designer Austin Handler mixed aqua and peacock blue in this Hamptons dining room for a fun, playful look. “The trick when working with two colors you don't see together often is to find your fabric first!” The room was inspired by the wavy chevron print by Jonathan Adler. Combined, the room features three main patterns: Adler's chevron, the drum shade's lattice, and the white-and-aqua stripes on the rug.
Get the look: The chevron print is from Kravet by Jonathan Adler.
Balance Straight with Curvy
In this bedroom, the graphic wallpaper could have felt overwhelming, especially when paired with more prints. However, the designer used patterns that feature soft curves and similar hues—on the headboard, bedding, and lampshades—to keep the look relaxed.
Play with Preppy Designs
Choose a Theme
In this Key Biscayne master bedroom, three major patterns are at play to create a boho/resort vibe. The golden, Moroccan-style carpet sets a structured tone, as do the pale blue, wide striped drapes. Meanwhile, the paisley bedspread trends toward whimsical and features hues that tie the rug and window treatments together.
Get the look: The bed is from Hurley and Company. The rug is by Madeline Weinrib. The bench is from Victoria's Armoire. The side tables are from West Elm. The lamps are from Pottery Barn. The cushions are from Hurley and Company.
Build From the Ground Up
A trellis patterned floor in mustard yellow sets the stage for this guest bedroom designed by Amy Lau. The monotone floral wallpaper and citrusy green accents take the edge off the brighter shade without stealing its thunder. "Colors in the same family have a complimentary, rather than competitive, effect," says designer Amy Lau.
Team Up Textiles
Leave it to fabric guru and designer Kathryn Ireland to bring new and vintage textiles from across the globe together on one sofa and make it look perfectly polished. "In a successful room, not one thing is in your face," she says. "You can have a lot of bright textiles that don't compete with each other, they just have to share a connection, like a common color." Ireland ties most of her fabrics together with a shared color: red, which is seen on several fabrics, the ottoman, lamp shades, and even in the painting.
Walk on the Wild Side
A predominantly white interior allowed these homeowners to go bold with their design choices, covering their gliders in zebra print and topping them with punchy pink-and-white polka dotted throw pillows for a cheeky and cheerful result.
Blend Nature and Structure
Designer Meg Braff is known for bright rooms and exquisite use of pattern. In the den of her own West Palm Beach retreat, she mixed tangerine and aqua based on this playful Bamboo and Birds wallpaper. The flora- and fauna-themed wallpaper plays nicely against the lattice-patterend pillows. “When using a strong color like orange, I add only one or two accent hues—it’s less overwhelming,” she says.
Get the look: Seville mirror, Julian Chichester. Chinese wood sofa, Shi & Erhard Antiques; 561/588-7288. Bamboo & Birds wallpaper (V-256), Bob Collins & Sons, Inc. Side tables, Bungalow5. White lamps, Blue Moon Antiques; 561/586-4498.