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Basics of Mixing Fabrics in Home Decorating

Mixing Patterns and Fabrics in Home Decor


Pillows can pack a big design punch

Pillows can pack a big design punch

Photo: Joseph Hoban

Many people are afraid of mixing fabrics in a room. And more than three fabrics is enough to cause "pattern anxiety." But you can create a high-end designer look in your home if you just follow a few basic rules. These simple rules will help you learn what to combine and what combinations to avoid - like orange plaid and grape paisley.

  • Find a great fabric. Find a great fabric that you love and build your design around it! Whether it is plaid, floral, striped or solid, make it the foundation fabric for your room.

  • No more than three. Unless the patterns are muted and subtle, try not to use more than three patterns in a room. Otherwise, the effect will be one of confusion rather than balance.

  • Vary the style and size. Vary the style and size of the patterns. Instead of choosing three florals, try a floral, plaid and stripe. Or maybe add checks or a geometric pattern. If you have a large plaid, choose a medium scale stripe and a small scale floral.

  • Use a common color. Unite the patterns with a common color. If your foundation fabric is red, all of the patterns should have the same red somewhere in the pattern.

  • Small scale - small room. Use small scale patterns in a smaller room. In larger rooms, where they are seen at a distance, small patterns tend to be read as texture or a solid.

  • Medium scale for both rooms. Medium scale patterns retain their pattern at a distance, yet in a smaller space, they don’t overpower.

  • Large scale for large furniture. Large scale patterns can overpower a small space, but can add vibrancy to a larger room. They will appear bolder when covering large furniture, but look fragmented on smaller pieces.

  • Adding width or height. Choose horizontal or vertical stripes to add width or height to a furniture piece or the room.

Varying your fabric choices between pattern size, pattern style and color scheme is the key to a harmonious design. Remember - choose a base fabric and then build on that foundation. You will love the result!

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