This blog was originally a product of a collaboration of Jens. Jen Murck of Swatch and Repeat and I got together to talk all things pattern.
Gone are the days of matching chintz floral pillows. Can I have a “hallelujah”? And in its place there’s a whole lot more freedom. Mixing, matching, clashing? All fair game. But how do you approach this? How do you mix patterns with a casual “I am in NO way trying too hard; I just have this stylish” flair? I’ve got pattern mixing secrets. And I want to let you in on them.
For these tips, we’ll focus on throw pillows. Time to mix patterns!
Mix Patterns Like A Pro Tip 1: Who's the Boss?
Start with the boss. The head honcho. The pattern who really runs the show. This is your stand-out pattern and the one that will influence all of the other patterns you bring into the room. For this post, we’ll work with this beaut’ here.
Got it? Good. Now let's take a deeper look at the components of the pattern.
Mix Patterns Like A Pro Tip 2: Take a good look
Often there is a main color. A color that dominates the pattern in your main pillow. If there is, this is the one you will use the LEAST in the supporting patterns. Otherwise it is color overload and that just doesn’t work for anyone.
With this pillow, however, the colors are fairly balanced. You don’t have to think quite as hard about balancing the colors when working with this pattern.
Mix Patterns Like A Pro Tip 3: Weigh your options
Next, consider what type of patterns will look nice nestled up against your ‘head honcho’. A few general rules:
- Mix pattern types. If you start with a floral, skip adding another one or they will compete for attention. Stripes? Throw in a polka dot or plaid.
- Keep in mind the scale of the main pattern. Is it big? Add a pillow with a smaller pattern. If it’s smaller, a larger (perhaps muted) pattern will complement. Basically, you want the “star” pillow to stand out against the others so that there’s no doubt who the boss is.
A no-fail, will-in-no-way-compete option is to opt for solids with tons of texture. Or a pattern with super small dots or lines. Your main pattern will totally pop against this strong supporting team.
In our example the main pattern is large, so I chose pillows with smaller repeats to add to it.
And you could easily stop there. It looks great! Colors balanced. Textures. Patterns. Yep yep and yep. BUT if you wanted to go a little more boho crazy, keep reading.
If you want to go all out bohemian goddess take the pattern you’ve got, and pull out the main colors. Then evaluate how the pattern feels (warm patterns are a lot different than cold patterns). Now find pillows that sorta use the same colors and feel. Size doesn’t matter. Scale and pattern don’t matter. Throw all those babies in there. Textures as patterns work too. Add a couple of them. Voila! Casually curated décor. Like here.
Because really, with boho style (interior décor or fashion), the fun is being the woman who walks out of the bathroom, toilet paper trailing on her shoe who shouts (without saying a word), “This toilet paper? Yeah, I know it’s there. I put it there. It rocks”. And all of a sudden everyone scrambles to get toilet paper for themselves. Confidence will get you everywhere.
Oh, and P.S.–I used throw pillows as an example here because it was easiest. But the principles apply other places. Wallpaper, curtains, duvets, you name it. This’ll work!
All throw pillows available at Urban Outfitters. Sofa sustainably handcrafted by Gingko Furniture.