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How to Mix Patterns in a Room

By The Spruce

There’s one design dilemma that continues to elude many—mixing patterns. Using more than one pattern in a room seems intimidating but it can be easy to do once you know the tricks. It all comes down to coordinating and complementing patterns in a space.

Choosing Patterns

When decorating with patterns, first determine what kind of look you want your room to have. For example, florals give a room a feminine vibe while animal prints give it a glamorous or eclectic feel. Second, think about what types of patterns will fit into your room’s theme.

As a rule of thumb, use at least three patterns in a room. For example, group together a floral, stripe, and polka dot. Another pattern group that works well together is herringbone, stripes, and paisley. A third group of patterns could be two different size plaids and a floral.

1. Damask

Characteristics: Traditional, formal, and glamorous

Common uses: Wallpaper, side chairs

Pairs well with: Stripes and subtle florals

2. Floral

Characteristics: Romantic and feminine

Common uses: Wallpaper, draperies, bedding, pillows, and furniture upholstery

Pairs well with: Stripes, checks, polka dots, ikat, and damask

3. Polka dots

Characteristics: Playful and lively

Common uses: Toss pillows and upholstered accent pieces

Pairs well with: Ikat, and similar colored stripes and florals

4. Paisley

Characteristics: Bohemian with a hint of formality

Common uses: Curtains, throws, pillows, and upholstery

Pairs well with: Herringbone and stripes

5. Chevron/ Herringbone

Characteristics: Versatile based on size—large chevron is bold and energetic while smaller chevron is more formal and traditional

Common uses: Works best in small doses (curtains, throws, or accent pillows), but large scale chevron or herringbone floors look elegant

Pairs well with: All patterns as long as the colors work together

6. Toile

Characteristics: Elegant and timeless

Common uses: Drapery, wallpaper, bedding, and accent pillows

Pairs well with: Stripes and plaids; avoid using toile with other busy small scale patterns such as florals

7. Ikat

Characteristics: Boho, earthy, and global-inspired

Common uses: Rugs, pillows, curtains, and accent chairs

Pairs well with: Stripes, polka dots, florals, plaids, and chevron

8. Animal Prints

Characteristics: Wild and eclectic

Common uses: Rugs, ottomans, pillows, and statement pieces

Pairs well with: Other bold, graphic prints and even other animal prints

9. Plaid

Characteristics: Conservative, classic, sometimes masculine, sporty

Common uses: Curtains and upholstery

Pairs well with: Toile, ikat, florals, and other plaids of varying sizes and colors