Mixing Patterns in 4 Easy Steps- TOSS CUSHIONS
Pattern mixing is a great way to add pizzaz and personality to any room, however, it can be downright impossible if you don’t know the basic rules and guidelines. Does this stripe go with that floral? Does this ikat work with that jacquard? What the heck IS an ikat anyway?
That’s why I’ve decided to share with you a few trade secrets to help you mix patterns til’ the cows come home! But before you read that, you should read this…
1. CONSIDER QUALITY
Don’t mix junk with quality. It’s like having a $100 bottle of wine with a two cheeseburger meal – it just won’t feel good in the end. If it looks like quality then you’re okay, but if it looks cheaply done and you put it with a super fab piece then your cheap piece will look even more tragic.
2. CONSIDER TEXTURE
The more neutral your palette is, the more texture you need to add. Texture adds interest. Texture adds substance. Texture makes my world go round!
If you don’t have a neutral palette, you don’t necessarily need texture to add interest or substance, so keep it to a dull roar.
3. CONSIDER STYLE
If you don’t like florals, don’t pick a floral just because it has your colours. Make sure that the patterns you pick suit the feel and the theme of your room and suit each other. You’ll likely be naturally drawn to certain patterns and textures, so follow your gut and choose what you like!
4. FILL IT WITH FEATHERS
I personally detest cotton fibre fill cushions. It’s like stuffing my bra with toilet paper. It looks good from far, but it sure doesn’t feel good to grab! Make sure your cushions have a cover that can be removed and replace the innards with a lovely feather insert!
And now, let’s dig into the guts and the glory of matching patterns!
STEP 1 FIGURE OUT YOUR COLOUR FAMILY
If you live in the land of neutrals, then you’ll find it easy to incorporate almost any colour scheme into your room. However, chances are you have a few things in your room already that will give you clues as to what family you belong to. Here’s a list of a few colour families to consider…
Neutrals are by far the easiest and can be incorporated INTO other colour families.
- neutrals can range from white and brown to gray and black and everything in between
- neutrals look best when there are a variety of depths and textures (if they aren’t mixed into other palettes)
- don’t be afraid to throw in even one or two colours from another family to add some life to a neutral-on-neutral palette
If you’re creating a palette using ALL neutrals, you’ll find it much easier to mix n’ match, without having to repeat colours from your MAIN pattern (which you’ll learn about below).
Pastels are the softies of the bunch.
- pastels tend to be soft, Easter-inspired colours!
- pastels best suit white, fresh cream and soft gray when it comes to neutrals, although, you can pull off the odd beige
PRIMARY COLOURS & BRIGHTS
These colours are jacked right up! A little goes a LONG way with these bad boys.
- when it comes to neutrals, these go best with black, white, clean charcoal and dark brown
Earth tones are colours that have some gray or brown in them, meaning they are toned down.
- these can be light and soft or dark and deep, as long as they have that neutral base
- earth tones are the more popular choice right now
So that covers just some of the families. You might have your OWN colour family or trend that you love, ie. beach, vintage, traditional, romantic, etc…but these basic families should at least get you on the right track!
STEP 2 CHOOSE YOUR MAIN PATTERN
From your chosen colour family (based on the above or your OWN colour choices), decide on your THREE TO FIVE fave colours. These will be for your MAIN pattern – the pattern that holds ALL of the colours that you want to use.
Consider the following in your main pattern…
- aim to have at least ONE NEUTRAL in it
- don’t be afraid to vary the depths of a particular colour, you don’t have to stick with one particular depth
- this pattern doesn’t need to be the LARGEST surface area (ie: rug or drape) it can be a simple bolster cushion, just as long as it contains your colours and is an obvious player in the room!
- It’s ‘ideal’ to have only ONE dominant pattern in a room
If you choose a pattern palette using all neutrals, your main pattern isn’t AS important, you’ll have a lot more room to mix and match within your chosen neutral range. It’s when you add COLOUR that you need to pay more attention to repetition.
STEP 3 CHOOSE YOUR SECONDARY PATTERN
Choose TWO TO THREE COLOURS from your MAIN pattern that you’d like to repeat in a secondary, more simple pattern.
- if you only have THREE main colours, you may want only TWO colours in your secondary pattern
- if you have FOUR TO FIVE main colours, you may want TWO TO THREE COLOURS in your secondary pattern
larger patterns often suit graphic large scale toss cushions, ottomans, couches, area rugs and drapes
- you can have TWO TO THREE secondary patterns in your room with different colours in them, as long as they are colours that are found in the MAIN pattern (there are exceptions to this, but this keeps it simple)
STEP 4 CHOOSE A SOLID
The solid piece can be a colour OR a neutral and can be either textured or smooth. It might have MINOR flecks of another colour in it, but keep it simple.
- you can have a multitude of solid colours in a room as long as they exist in your main piece (I wouldn’t do more than THREE)
- if your main pattern is all NEUTRALS, you can add almost any colour you like, as long as it ties in with your room and overall theme
Now Check out the Results of Steps 1-4
If I take my own tips and combine the above cushions, this is what I have…
ORIGINALLY WRITTEN IN 2018, UPDATED IN 2020