Anyone who’s ever tried to mix and match multiple patterned pillows with a statement rug knows that mixing patterns is more complicated than you think. It takes a shrewd eye and fundamental knowledge of both design and color theory to pull it off.
It’s not enough to simply buy a few patterned textiles with a unifying color palette and call it a day — it’s all about achieving visual balance and contrast via scale, repeat, and style. If you take a hard look at any pattern-heavy, maximalist spaces, you’ll notice that each print feels wildly different, yet somehow cohesive as a whole.
Fortunately, we’re not one to keep design secrets close to the chest. Our very own Toussaint Derby is an absolute pro and mixing patterns, and she’s eager to dish on her expert tips. Ahead, find the six pro tips designers consider when mixing patterns:
Tip 1: Modernize florals with geometric patterns
Busy, romantic floral patterns need a direct opposite to calm the overall look and achieve balance. Solid colors and graphic, geometric prints always fit the bill — we’re talking classic black and white stripes and a graphic two-tone rug.
2. Always mix scale
Scale, or the size of the print, should vary between each textile. For example, you can mix a large, Moroccan-style rug with a subtle, tight-knit polka dot, or a small floral print with a wide cabana strip. This visual mix ensures balance, contrast, and interest.
3. When in doubt, start with a rug
While we love a jute area rug or a grounding neutral, a bold, colorful pattern is a great way to set the palette and tone for the space. Find a busy patterned rug you absolutely love, and add in complementary patterns from there, like a subtle wallpaper or striped accent pillows.
Modern Wingback Bed // Area Rug // Throw Pillows
4. Invert colors with a pared-back palette
This is one of the easiest, most helpful tricks in the book if you’re a color-averse minimalist: simply invert the colors when selecting your prints. Start with one pattern that’s mostly black with a little white or tan, and pair it with the opposite: mostly tan or white with a touch of black. To keep this look from feeling boring or one-dimensional, make sure to vary print style, repeat, and size — picture a free-flowing abstract print with a tight, geometric rug.
Rhodes Beige Area Rug // Imogene Dot Chair // Cadence Marble Area Rug
5. Balance animal prints with classic patterns
A classic stripe or pared-back polka dot with a consistent repeat is the perfect foil to a bold, free-flowing animal print like leopard, zebra, or tiger stripe. These more traditional prints will add balance and keep the animal patterns from leaning to “safari theme room.”
6. Carry one color through all patterns
While you can 100% throw caution to the wind power clash with the best of them, we recommend having at least one color that carries through all patterns — even if it’s not an exact match. In the above nursery, for example, the printed wallpaper, rug, and throw pillow all have a shade of blue to tie the look together.
Privacy Screen // Ottoman // Wallpaper
From mixing patterns to perfecting room flow, our designers are chock-full of expert tips. Start with our style quiz to work with a design pro one-on-one.