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Mixing Patterns

teal living room with plants and paintings

Tips for creating visual harmony

You’ve seen them online and in print: eye-catching rooms styled by the pros that blend paisley and polka dots or chevrons and plaid, creating layers, depth and making the space so much more interesting. 

And maybe you’d like to give mixing a patterns a try, but aren’t sure how to pull a room together? 

When it comes to mixing patterns, it’s all about planning. If you start with a plan, you’ll end up with a cohesive, aesthetically pleasing room, rather than something that looks like a jumbled mess. 

So step outside your comfort zone and take a little risk. Here’s how to get started. 


Choose a Color Palette

1. Take inventory

Look around the room and note the patterns that are already there, such as those in the wood grain on floors, fireplace surrounds and window frame molding, then build off of them. 

2. Choose a Color Palette

Decide what colors you want to use in the room. Select similar colors that have the same hue and intensity, giving you variety without making the room feel chaotic. 

3. Channel a Mood

What sort of vibe do you want patterns to give to your room? If you’re looking for light, warmth and energy, go for a floral in summer shades. Leaf motifs add drama, while Ikat prints give a room an earthy vibe. Want something playful? Try polka dots. And if your style leans more toward traditional, you can’t go wrong with plaid. 

4. Start Small

Nervous about adding patterns to walls? Then start with plain painted walls and introduce pattern with smaller accents, like throw pillows or area rugs. 

5. Make Sure to Balance

If you have an intricate pattern you love and want to use a lot of, complement it with a simple pattern for balance. Keep in mind that some patterns, like chevrons, can be overwhelming in large quantities, so use those types of patterns sparingly. 

Also make sure patterns are evenly spread out through the room. If you reserve patterns for say, just a corner, the room will look unbalanced. 

6. Vary Sizes

Vary the size of the patterns. You might want to use a large-scale pattern to anchor the room and then use medium and smaller scale patterns on throw rugs or pillows. Also remember to break up patterns with solid neutrals or blocks of color, to give the eye a rest. If you have patterned drapes, for example, pair them with solid colored shades. 

7. Don’t Go Overboard

Too many patterns in a room can look chaotic; pick three to four patterns and stick with them. 


Add flair by using colors in the same intensity. Add flair by using colors in the same intensity.
Incorporate pattern to set a room’s tone. Incorporate pattern to set a room’s tone.
Spread pattern evenly throughout a space. Spread pattern evenly throughout a space.
Anchor a room with a larger-patterned area rug. Anchor a room with a larger-patterned area rug.

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