​Get the look: How to decorate with patterns

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
Into The Groove Pixers Dining roomAccessories & decoration Multicolored
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Designing with colours can be easy. Mixing and matching different materials is also not that hard. But the one thing that continues to elude many when it comes to interior design is playing with patterns. 

Mix too many motifs in one space and you have an overwhelming look that could seem quite sickening. Use too little and those patterns could seem like a forgettable afterthought. So, just how do we decorate with patterns the right way to give our bedroomsliving rooms, home offices, children’s rooms and just about any other space that beautiful-without-trying look?  

It’s all about coordinating and complementing…

1. Decorate with patterns: Choose your motifs

IN THE PRISM KINGDOM Pixers Dining roomAccessories & decoration Multicolored



Before you hit the store to scope out paisleys and herringbones, first determine what kind of look you want to achieve with that room. Florals, for instance, are ideal for a feminine vibe, while animal prints will give any space an exotic feel. 

And also be aware of what other patterns your chosen motifs pair up. For example, damask is used for traditional and formal designs and go well with stripes, solids and subtle florals. Polka dots, on the other hand , are more playful and outgoing and should be reserved for similarly coloured stripes. 

The most important to remember is that, when mixing patterns, to always show restraint. Like everything in decorating, you have to give patterns room to breathe.

2. Decorate with patterns: The rules

Scandinavian style lounge Katie Malik Interiors Scandinavian style living room
Katie Malik Interiors

Scandinavian style lounge

Katie Malik Interiors

It’s always important to trust one’s own instinct when designing the look of a room. But when decorating with patterns, there are a few hard tips to follow: 

• Use at least three patterns and vary the scale, such as one large, one medium, and one small; or one large and two different mediums, etc.  

• Go with colours that have the same intensity. For instance, don’t mix pastels with jewel hues. Different patterns often come together quite nicely if they’re of the same tones.  

• Distribute patterns evenly throughout the room, not just on the one side.  

• Don’t place too many patterns on top off each other. Your eyes need a resting spot and too many patterns will feel chaotic. 

• Patterns don’t have to be differently coloured. Tone-on-tone patterns can still ensure character while remaining elegant.

3. Decorate with patterns: Pick your colour palette first

Gloucester Road Penthouse Bhavin Taylor Design Modern style bedroom
Bhavin Taylor Design

Gloucester Road Penthouse

Bhavin Taylor Design

Before you delve into the rich world of patterns, decide on your room’s colour palette. Will you go with cool tones or warm hues? Choose one or two main colours for the room, but be sure to consider one or two accent colours for a pop of character.

4. Decorate with patterns: Include white

Does the idea of bringing pattern into a room seem way too daunting? Then settle on one coloured pattern combined with a simple white background. Will you go with a nautical look of whites and blues? Will it be monochrome like sleek white and bold black?

Next up, bring in patterns of that colour in the design of your choice (i.e. plaid), but be sure that your motifs create a statement without overthrowing the whole room.

5. Decorate with patterns: What about large prints?

Oriental Pattern Pixers Colonial style living room Blue

Oriental Pattern


There’s something about oversized prints in a room, but working with this in a tasteful manner is also privy to certain rules. 

Start off with a neutral colour on the walls and floor. And use very few layers of bold prints in either your area rug, or in a few key pieces of furniture. 

Follow this with some neutral-coloured sofas, chairs and ottomans to neutralise the room. Those bold patterns will work stunningly with the surrounding subdued neutral colours.

6. Decorate with patterns: A rich variety

The British Empire Collection Occipinti Living roomAccessories & decoration

The British Empire Collection


Speaking of working with large-scale patterns, remember that they can intermingle quite nicely with smaller ones – just as long as the colour palette stays within the same colour family. 

Pick a dominant print that already shows up in your room’s artwork or window treatment (like trellis). Then, select smaller scale patterns for scatter cushions and other textiles in your interiors. 

The more variety of scale in your room’s patterns, the more visually flowing the space will seem.

7. Decorate with patterns: Don’t be scared of bold colours and prints

OSTRICH Wallpaper - Pink homify Walls & flooringWallpaper Paper Pink

OSTRICH Wallpaper—Pink


What makes decorating with patterns even more wonderful is the wide variety of bold colours you can play with. How about mixing a few contrasting hues together on that side chair, like garnet red and mint green? 

Select prints with a monochromatic design and that don’t compete visually with the surrounding bold colours, otherwise the results will be way too busy.

8. Decorate with patterns: Mimic a pattern in your décor

Rakish lampshade and cushions homify Living roomAccessories & decoration

Rakish lampshade and cushions


A fan of Moroccan motifs and lattice prints? Why not mix and match these in alternating decorative textiles? The bedroom is an especially great space to try this, what with all the bedding, accent pillows, window treatments, rugs and lampshades that can flaunt some pattern in varying scales. 

We recommend introducing a solid colour for sheets, coordinating accent pillows and an area rug to ensure a neat balance with your favourite patterns.

9. Decorate with patterns: Tone-on-tone colour

What has made interior decorating much easier in recent years is tone-on-tone colour (the ability to choose varying shades of the same colour in a space). By using, say, different shades of greys, whites and browns in a room can make the mixing and matching of patterns easier, as the outcome is a mixture of varying levels of impact. 

Stick to one or two decorative items with a large impact print, then tone down the other furnishings in the room with a tighter and smaller print.

10. Decorate with patterns: What about wallpaper?

Hells Kitchen Penthouse Bhavin Taylor Design Bedroom
Bhavin Taylor Design

Hells Kitchen Penthouse

Bhavin Taylor Design

Of course patterns aren’t only limited to textiles; wallpaper is also an exquisite idea to flaunt some motif in a room. Thanks to wallpaper, you can show off your love for bold or subtle prints in the background without overthrowing your furnishings and other décor pieces. 

However, if you choose a big and bold pattern for your wallpaper, use this only on an accent wall behind your bed or sofa or dining room table; stick to smaller prints (or even paint) on the adjacent walls. This will help to keep the room visually balanced. 

But remember to have fun when you decorate with patterns. After all, there are so many options to choose from! 

Speaking of walls that wow, don’t miss these Kitchen wallpaper designs that are undeniably delicious.

Did we help make decorating with patterns easier for you?

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