I used to wonder how designers were able to mix fabric patterns that looked so amazing. Then I started to study and research it. By ‘research’ I mean buy tons of different fabrics and figure out what worked or not! Oh, how I love beautiful fabric patterns! It makes my heart go pitter pat! However, it took me a bit to learn how to mix fabric patterns like a pro. There have been times when I had too many fabric designs going on in a single room. It’s not a great look, and the room can become too ‘busy.’ But no fear, I’ve cracked the code. Turns out, it’s pretty easy!
Here was my typical scenario: I happily peruse the aisle at Marshalls and stumble upon the throw pillows. A beautiful fabric pattern stands up and jumps in my cart. Whoa! I can’t very well leave it at the store, so it comes home. Only then do I discover that I like it, but something is just off. Anyone else? Anyone? Please, tell me I’m not alone on this!
Well, good news. I figured out a simple formula on how to mix fabric patterns like a pro. For sure it’s not rocket science, and I’m going to share those designer secrets right here with you.
Hopefully, you’ve read about how to pick a color palette for your whole house, so you know the color direction you want to take (if you’re leaning toward a fairly neutral paint palette). If you’ve not read the paint palette post…hey that’s a tongue twister, go read it, and I’ll wait.
Once you determined the color palette, start with 3 fabrics. Keeping the number of fabric options limited right now is the easiest starting point. It eliminates becoming overwhelmed yet creates visual interest. By all means, if you want to work with more fabric patterns, go for it!
Begin with your FAVORITE fabric
Using a favorite fabric is the very best starting place when it comes to mixing fabric patterns. This fabric is going to work as your guide. When learning how to mix fabric patterns like a pro, what you’re doing is matching up colors. I think the easiest jumping point is to use an organic fabric design.
Natural fabric designs have lots of movement and color. Think: floral, paisley, ikat, etc. These patterns tend to have color variations. Additionally, organic prints tend to have a large scale and a less defined pattern repeat. (The fabric swatches below are all from TonicLiving.)
Find a Medium or Small Print
With medium or small prints think defined patterns such as polka dots, squares, some paisley or stripes. This pattern is typically smaller in scale. At this point, I prefer the pattern to have two colors. With the above floral pattern, I think a navy and off-white ikat polka dot will look great together. We can see how the navy highlights the branches in the floral pattern.
Round it out with a Solid or Texture Fabric
Solids give our eyes a needed resting place (as does the white background on the main fabric). What I always attempt to do is work an impressive solid or tonal texture into a design plan.
The below fabric has a rich hue to compliment drawn from the darkest shade from the pink flowers. Using an intense color creates beautiful visual interest without using an actual pattern.
Truly, with a little practice, you will have a designer look in no time! It is the same formula used in our dining room update this past spring.
When designing the dining room I opted for a large ikat design on the window treatments. The chairs have a medium sized, well-defined paisley along with an off-white background. For the solid, I went full solid with the slipcovered chairs.
Formula to Mix & Match Fabrics Like a PRO
Organic Print Fabric (the favorite pattern)
Geometric Print (pick a color from the organic pattern)
Solid: Texture or a tonal fabric that appears solid.
Designer Looking RoomThe formula is versatile beyond selecting throw pillows.
So tell me, what are you largest fabric challenges when decorating.
Tell me what you want to know because talking fabric is one of my FAVORITE subjects!