I consider pattern a pillar of good design. Spaces that successfully incorporate pattern are visually interesting, have depth, and showcase the homeowner’s personality. But spaces that unsuccessfully use pattern have a tendency to do just the opposite. If this has you feeling like running for the hills and making a vow to choose only solid colors for your home going forward, I understand! But don’t give up on your pattern dreams just yet.
As an interior designer and the owner of Coveted Home, a home furnishings store in Kansas City, I have worked with countless homeowners who want bold pattern in their homes, but don’t know how to make it happen.
Let me let you in on a little secret. The problem isn’t the patterns. There’s an array of fantastic options available to us. From stripes and florals to geometic and animal, when it comes to picking a pattern, our choices are endless. So, what gives? It’s the actual application of incorporating pattern in a space.
Pulling off a room where pattern makes a statement without standing out too much or competing with other design elements can be tough. We want it to make enough of an impact without becoming lost. Easier said than done? Not anymore. I’m sharing my five tried and true tips for applying pattern in any space. If it’s a happy, comfortable and cohesive look complete with pattern that you’re going for, my tips will help you make it happen.
1. Frame it.
Think beyond the pillow for pattern. The old designer adage of “adding a pop” of color or pattern through pillows or the like is a bit 2008. Sure, pillows offer a great (and affordable) opportunity for an easy update, but how about incorporating pattern and color through art? A few bold brushstrokes in an abstract piece of art with a simple modern frame can make a big statement.
2. Use neutrals with bolds.
Stick to a neutral color palette if you’re using a bold pattern. In this Study Room, I used a bold leaf patterned wallpaper, but stuck to a very monochromatic color scheme of grays, creams and blacks throughout the rest of the room, with the exception of the chairs. While the rug has a bold pattern, too, it’s gray color means it’s not competing for attention.
3. Think about scale.
When mixing patterns, be mindful of scale. The application of mixing patterns is a tough one. Scale is a big factor, and mixing a large and small pattern is far more pleasing to the eye than mixing two large patterns. Having a place to rest your eyes is helpful as well, so think about inserting solid fabrics and surfaces in between your patterns.
4. Subtle counts.
Subtle pattern is still pattern. Contrary to popular belief, pattern doesn’t have to scream “pattern,” and in fact, subtle patterns can have just as much impact as a bold pattern when used on a larger surfaces. The rug in this Family Room is a good example. It’s very large, 12’x15’, and while on first glance it reads neutral, its subtly patterned in a muted hue, which works to ground the space and add interest. A bold patterned rug would have overwhelmed the room.
5. Cast the room.
Know when to stop. Some can pull off a crazy amount of pattern in a space and it looks amazing (hello, John Robshaw and Justina Blakeney!), but the rest of us should be more thoughtful when using pattern in our homes. I usually tell my clients this: Think of your room as a group of actors in a movie. You need your stars and you need your supporting actors. Decide what your “stars” will be and then make sure the rest fall in line.
How do you pull off a touch of the unexpected in your home?
Images via Sarah Sweeney