Ever wonder how some spaces look so pulled together and interesting while others fall a bit flat? Well one of the easiest ways to add interest and elevate the look of your space is to mix different fabric patterns in your decor.
There aren't any hard and fast rules for mixing fabrics in decorating which doesn't help much if you don't know where to start. So today I'm going to break it down for you and give you a quick and easy formula for mixing fabric patterns so you can get the look and feel you're after.
As you'll see in the steps below, I'm going to keep it simple and straigtforward for you. This is my speciality and how I teach inside my online decorating programs because I truly believe that each action builds confidence, and easy to follow steps is the fastest way to take action.
(Mixing fabric patterns is a great way to incorporate different decorating styles, too. This post shows you how to combine decorating styles while maintaining a cohesive look!)
Table of Contents
Can You Mix Different Fabric Patterns Together?
Yes you absolutely can and should use mixed fabrics in your home decor. Pattern mixing is one of the best ways to create interest and get away from everything in your room being too matchy-matchy. Even with different colors and fabric prints there is a way to create a cohesive look and tie them together, which is what I'll show you how to do today.
Why You Should Be Mixing Patterns In Interior Design
- Pattern and texture are a great way to add interest to your decor.
- Different patterns and colors will pull from the styles and colors in a room and tie the room together.
- Using mixed fabrics allows you to easily follow a trend you like or decorate for the seasons without breaking your budget or making a big design commitment.
How To Mix Patterns In Your Decor
Like I mentioned there aren't set rules for mixing fabric patterns but if you're here, you're probably aware that you like the look but not sure how to mix and match fabrics in a way that doesn't look haphazard.
The easy steps for mixing fabric patterns you'll learn here are a great starting point to get outside your comfort zone while having a formula to follow that gives you the confidence you need to go for it.
A few things to note before we get started...
- Your fabric patterns don’t have to match, they just have to go.
- They will most often "go" because they will have colors in common.
- For the sake of keeping it simple we are going to mix three fabric patterns together.
Common fabric prints and termonology:
- Geometric prints: Have a pattern with clean lines and clear edges. The simplest geometric patterns are polka dots or stripes, but there are a lot of really interesting and more complicated geometric patterns also.
- Organic prints: Can include floral patterns or anything inspired by nature. They can be very literal or a bit more abstract. Organic patterns can have a lot of swirl and movement and it is typically difficult to see where the pattern repeats itself.
- Scale / Repition: How often a pattern repeats or how large a pattern looks. Small scale patterns can appear like a solid from across the room.
- Weight: How thick the fabric is. The lighter the weight, the thinner the fabic. The thicker the fabric the more it holds its shape.
Easy steps for mixing fabric patterns within a space
1. Start with a pattern that you love
This will be the jumping off point for the other prints and patterns you choose, so of course it makes sense to start with one pattern that you can’t get out of your head. Chances are this pattern is going to say something about your style and personality and the colors will make you feel good.
2. Does your first choice pattern have an organic origin or is it a geometric?
Almost all patterns will fall into the organic or geometric category.
If your first choice is an organic print, you're going to choose a geometric next. If your first choice is geometric, you will choose something more organic.
Let’s do an example.
Let’s pretend we're going to be decorating a little girl's room or nursery and we have fallen in love with this floral fabric. Since this is a floral, I’m going to want to choose a geometric next.
3. Find a coordinating color
Is there a color in your first choice fabric that you want to highlight? Use that color to make your second fabric choice.
Back to our example…
I decided to bring out the green and found a geometric pattern that mimics lattice to go with a sort of garden feel.
4. Consider the scale of the pattern
Large scale prints and patterns work best on large pieces like curtain panels and duvet covers and small scale prints and patterns tend to work best on smaller items like throw pillows, lamp shades, or valences. Take that into consideration, but don’t be afraid to break the rules a bit - I’m a sucker for a throw pillow with a large scale pattern on it.
That said, for your third pattern choice you are going to want to consider scale.
If both of your choices so far are medium to large scale, you will want to choose a small scale pattern (or maybe even a solid) for your third choice.
But if your choices so far are smaller in scale, you will want to choose a large scale pattern. This is also a perfect opportunity to pull out another color from your choices so far.
When you are buying fabric online you will see the pattern repeat listed in the details of each fabric. Some sites even have a ruler on the photo of the fabric to give you an idea of the scale of the pattern.
Back to our example…
My first two choices are medium in scale so I decided to go very small scale with this lilac gingham. Not only is it perfect for the feel of a little girl’s room, but it pulls out the purple perfectly and because the pattern is so small, almost acts as a solid without being a boring solid.
Now that wasn’t so hard was it?
Examples Of Fabric Patterns That Go Together
Green and gray floral paired with a green pin stripe and a gray geometric print.
Pink and white floral paired with gray bold stripe and green lattice print with soft edges.
Wouldn't this be a fun mix for a boy's room? Best part is as he grows, you only switch out the car print.
Vintage car print paired with dotted wavy lines and a curvy geometric.
These next two are a perfect example of how the color you select to highlight can change the look quite a bit.
Modern leaf print with green curvy geometric and a subtle diamond print vs the same modern leaf print with gray curvy geometric and subtle dots print.
As you can see there are a ton of fabric pattern combinations that you can come up with but starting with your one must have fabric will help limit your choices. From there all you need to do is highlight at least one color and vary the scale of the prints and you've got yourself an interesting fabric mix that will elevate your space and add a ton of personality.
Buying fabric online has become one of my favorite things because it saves time and the selection is amazing! Click here to see my favorite places to buy fabric online!
Frequent Questions About Coordinating Fabrics
What pattern goes with stripes?
Since stripes are considered a geometric, a great option for a pattern that goes with stripes is to pair it with something a bit more organic with less rigid lines. If you have a bold stripe, go with a pattern that has less contrast and a smaller scale. If you have a thin stripe go with a bolder organic pattern possibly with a larger scale.
What patterns go with floral prints?
Many patterns go with floral prints. The key is to highlight one color and if you want your floral print to stand out, keep the next pattern on a small scale. For example a pin stripe would look great with a floral print.
What are some tips for mixing neutral color prints?
If you like to keep your color palette neutral you can still add a lot of interest and personality by selecting fabrics in the same neutral color family but with different textures or subtle details.
Ready to create a home that feels like you without the overwhelm?
Inside my course, Style Your Way Home, I'll teach you my step-by-step approach to discovering your unique design style and how to incorporate all the styles you love into your own home design plan. Plus, you'll learn my simple 4 step process to to apply your decor plan to any room in your home so you can make quick and confident decisions and create a home that feels like YOU.