This Is *Exactly* How Designers Mix & Match Patterns With Ease: Our 6 Pro Tips

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Kelsey Clark

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Published on May 4, 2022

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

Mixing patterns | How to mix 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.

Mixing patterns | How to mix patterns

Striped Curtains // Floral Pillow // Striped Bench

2. Always mix scale

Mixing patterns | How to mix patterns

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.

Mixing patterns | How to mix patterns

Cabana Stripe Wallpaper // Dining Chair // Curtains

3. When in doubt, start with a rug

Mixing patterns | How to mix patterns

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.

Mixing patterns | How to mix patterns

Modern Wingback Bed // Area Rug // Throw Pillows

Havenly design packages

4. Invert colors with a pared-back palette

Mixing patterns | How to mix patterns

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.

Mixing patterns | How to mix patterns

Rhodes Beige Area Rug // Imogene Dot Chair  // Cadence Marble Area Rug

5. Balance animal prints with classic patterns

Mixing patterns | How to mix 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.”

Mixing patterns | How to mix patterns

Animal Print Rug // Chair // Throw Pillow

6. Carry one color through all patterns

Mixing patterns | How to mix 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.

Mixing patterns | How to mix patterns

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.

Words by Kelsey Clark