Mixing Patterns – 8 Tips to Make It Easy

Perfect Mix Modern Living Room

One of the things that makes interior design really fun are all of the different color and pattern choices that are available.

But as much as it makes design interesting, it can also create a challenge when it comes to narrowing them down and choosing the best options for your space.

If you’re challenged by mixing patterns, or if you’re looking for some new ideas, these tips will help:

1. Start with one.

Choose one inspiration or dominant pattern to get you started. It may be a pillow, accent chair, patterned rug, fabric, wallpaper… There are lots of options!

Use the inspiration piece you choose as a jumping off point to pull colors from and coordinate patterns that compliment.


{The color scheme of the pillows above was obviously inspired by the wallpaper, and the ethnic prints in varying scales are a perfect modern compliment to the vintage floral.}

2. Vary scale and pattern.

One important key to mixing patterns successfully is to vary the size and type of patterns you choose.

Mixing the scale of your patterns – large, medium and smaller – will help ensure that they compliment one another instead of competing.

Pair the hard lines of patterns such as geometrics and stripes with softer, more fluid patterns like botanicals and ethnic prints for a balanced look.

Mixing Patterns - 8 tips to make pattern mixing easy when you're decorating your home.   Love the examples and inspiration!

{It can work to duplicate pattern type (if the scale is different), or have more than one of the same scale (if the pattern is different). But, as a rule, varying patterns will be easier and create a more balanced look.}

3. Choose wisely.

If you find a bold pattern you love, it’s easy to get so excited that you want to slap it on the biggest piece of furniture you can find. But…

It’s usually a good idea to keep sofas and sectionals in more solid-leaning fabrics. Wallpaper, area rugs, pillows, curtains, and accent chairs are more easily switched out and may be smarter choices for experimenting with pattern.

Light and airy living room with patterned accent chair and area rug

4. Substitute a solid.

Too much of a good thing can be…too much! Popping a solid in here and there gives the eye a place to rest, and allows your patterns to shine.

{Miniature patterns can sometimes “read” like a solid, especially from across the room. That can be disappointing if you’re expecting pattern, but a good thing if you’re trying to calm things down.}

5. Odd is good.

You’ve probably heard of the “rule of three” – or using odd numbers in design – and it definitely works.

Mixing two patterns? Good. Okay. Acceptable. Mixing three or even five? More interesting.

Design Reveal - Kelton’s Great Outdoors Room via Project Nursery
Source: Project Nursery

{The repetition of blue above keeps things from getting too crazy.}

6. Unify.

When mixing patterns, your design will be much more coordinated if patterns have something, like style or color, in common. Patterns don’t all need to match perfectly, but they should relate.

In our Rustic Boho Living Room, even though the pillows and sari are all different colors and patterns, they are tied together by the ethnic motif. The gray throw does not have the same ethnic vibe, but is repeating the color gray in a complimentary pattern.

7. Keep it simple.

If you like a lot of pattern, or maybe fewer patterns that are big and bold, limiting the color palette can keep your space from feeling too busy or overwhelming.

Laundry room - mixing patterns with gray and white floral and buffalo check

Great Neighborhood Homes | Photo: PK/Schneiderman’s

8. Evenly distribute.

Whether it’s something as small as pillows on the sofa, or a larger combination of elements throughout the room, evenly distributing pattern will bring balance.

{In the room below your eye moves easily from one pattern to another, creating a good flow.}

Mixing patterns in the living room with Fusion furniture - black and white paisley, small print, and stripes

And as with any decorating project, it’s always best if you relax and have fun with it! Try out these tips and start mixing patterns in the ways that work best for you.

What is your favorite way to mix patterns in your space?

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4 Responses to Mixing Patterns – 8 Tips to Make It Easy

  1. JanH August 30, 2018 at 5:26 am #

    Could you tell me the material used on the laundry room floor and the color names? Thank you

    • Schneiderman's Furniture October 1, 2018 at 5:17 pm #

      I’m sorry, we actually don’t have that information. This was taken while touring Great Neighborhood Homes. You may be able to find this through them.

  2. Karina Larsson April 5, 2018 at 8:35 am #

    In picture 7, the laundry room, there is a great wallpaper. Can you please give the information on who makes it?

    • PK April 10, 2018 at 8:55 pm #

      Hi Karina. Unfortunately, we don’t have the information on the wallpaper, but you could check with the builder — Great Neighborhood Homes, Edina, MN.


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