How to Mix and Match Patterns

One of the most complicated home decorating challenges we see clients struggle with is learning how to mix and match patterns in a way that not only works, but gives your home character and personality. So, today we are going to break down the art of mixing patterns into an easy to follow guide.

While many people come across this problem when adding decorative throw pillows to a sofa or bed, the same rules apply to all fabrics in a room including drapes, upholstered furniture, rugs, blankets or bedding, and pillows. To create straightforward examples, we will focus primarily on mixing pillows but the basic principles stand and can be applied to any home decorating project with fabrics.

To get started, we are going to categorize different types of patterns (including the absence of a pattern). There are many ways to do this, but we have chosen these categories because they are easy to identify and you should be able to distinguish any fabric you are considering by using these simple guidelines.

*All pillows used in examples can be found at Target, except for the floral print which is from ThePillowCoverStore on Etsy.



One solid color, however variation in texture is common.

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Stripes may be vertical or horizontal and vary in thickness and color.

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Characterized by a plaid or checkered pattern, that includes 2 or more colors.

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A pattern that is displays geometric shapes, typically in a repetitive pattern but may also be asymmetrical.

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A floral or paisley pattern.

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Small Pattern

Characterized by a small, repetitive pattern.

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Large Pattern

Includes many types of patterns but all are large and repetitive in nature.

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Characterized by an obvious image, word or phrase meant to make a statement.

Once you have your fabrics categorized, creating the perfect blend of patterns is easy by following these simple guidelines.

1) Start off by choosing one bold and vibrant pattern. Ideally this pattern with have a wide variation in color and be medium to large in print size. This first fabric should be the inspiration for your other selections to follow.

Photo Credit: Modern Floral Throw Pillow Cover via  ThePillowCoverStore  on Etsy

Photo Credit: Modern Floral Throw Pillow Cover via ThePillowCoverStore on Etsy

2) When mixing patterns, the best outcomes are generally found when the rule of three’s is followed. Meaning, using three different types of patterns typically creates the most harmonized look.

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3) To select your other fabrics, you should vary the size of your patterns. By shifting the size of the patterns you use from small to medium to large, you allow the first fabric to make a statement and the others to add accents rather than chaos.

This isn’t all about size though, you should also consider the fabric vibe or feel. For example a simple checkered pattern in a neutral color will create a more casual and calming effect, while a vibrant floral with multiple bold colors with create more energy in your space.

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4) Although your patterns will be different, the color selection is important and should be kept within the same color family. You also want your color intensity to match across patterns and fabrics. For example, keep vibrant colors with vibrants, bolds with bolds and pastels with pastels.

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5) A solid fabric can almost always save the day. If your patterns feel a little heavy or chaotic in one section of your room, they may be in need of a solid fabric to balance them. Also, try spreading your patterns evenly across your space to create a more balanced and harmonized look.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and play with different patterns and arrangements. Even professionals try different positions and groupings before settling on their desired look.

Patterns, textures and color are fun and should help you to express how you feel and what you like. Decorating is fluid and constantly evolving, like our emotions and personalities, so don’t be afraid to dive in and start playing with patterns in your home.

Have a quick home decorating question? Ask the stylist for a quick and honest answer. Need a bit more guidance when it come to styling your home with different patterns, check out our home styling services to create a look that is uniquely you with confidence.

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