Whether your picking out the perfect Christmas wrapping paper combination, choosing fabrics to recover your throw pillows, or trying to find the one rug that just fits with your room…
It’s NOT all about scale.
Scale is how large the elements of a pattern are relative to other patterns. But scale isn’t the only thing you need to know to pick the right pattern. Far from it.
You’ve likely heard this advice on mixing fabrics:
Fail-Proof Fabric Formula = Large-scale + Medium-scale + Small-scale
If that formula was fail-safe, then these three fabrics would look fantastic together:
But they don’t. Unless you like going cross-eyed.
That’s because scale is only one part of the equation. It takes more than varying scale to create a balanced pattern mix.
A balanced mix of patterns requires cohesion and tension.
Cohesion comes through coordination of color and elements that repeat or reference each other across the patterns.
Tension is created by contrast. And tension in this sense is a good thing. A very good thing.
Tension helps a space go from predictable to compelling. Inane to intriguing. Blah to beautiful.
There are four ways you can create compelling pattern mixes with contrast.
Scale is only one of them.
Let’s look at an example of three fabrics, similar color palette to those above, except these actually go well together without inducing a headache or being boring.
What make’s this mix compelling is what makes the patterns different. There are four points of difference:
- Three very different scales; large floral, medium geometric, and small herringbone.
- The floral fabric is quite busy compared to the simplicity of the other two.
- The floral is free-flowing while the other two patterns are more structured.
- The two simpler patterns are different colors, but since they are pulled from the floral fabric they work together.
Without the contrast created by varying these other elements, the resulting fabric combo wouldn’t be balanced or compelling.
With just a few more steps in the formula, you can go from predictable to compelling with your patterns.
In my new class How to Mix and Match Patterns, I’ll show you:
- 7 Useful ways to describe patterns, so you can choose the ones that work well together
- An easy pattern mixing process that uses all the variables to create the most compelling fabric combos
- And how to pick out a new pattern that works with what you’ve already got.
Fabric images shown here courtesy of OnlineFabricStore.net.