10 Tips for Mixing Patterns Like a Master

Mixing patterns in a space is a great way to add interest, color, and depth  while giving it a custom look.  But there are a few guidelines to follow if you want to avoid a jarring and uncoordinated look.  As you read below, keep in mind that the various patterns and colors don’t need to “match” each other, they just need to “go” together.

10 Tips for Mixing Patterns


1.  Work with an odd number of patterns

Odd numbers tend to look best, so if you’re going to play with patterns, start with three different patterns in three different scales.  Once you’ve mastered the key to mixing patterns, try for five!

Three Patterns Tidbits&Twine

{via Pinterest}

Odd Numbers of Pattern Tidbits&Twine

{via Pinterest}


2.  Use varying scales of pattern

Incorporate varying scales to the space so that the prints don’t compete with one another.  Sticking with the rule of three, pick one large, one medium and one small pattern to work with.  For example, try one large floral/organic pattern, plus one medium geometric, plus one small classic pattern.

Pattern Scale 3 Tidbits&Twine

{via Thibaut}


Remember, you want your patterns to complement, not compete.


3. Large patterns work best on large pieces, small patterns on small pieces

When choosing the location of your patterns, keep in mind the space in which you are working.  A large pattern works best on a large item, such as a wall, window treatment or area rug. because the space is large enough to accommodate the pattern in its entirety.  A medium pattern is better suited to furniture and a small pattern to accent pieces.  (Note: Sometimes, small patterns can look busy when used is large amounts.)

Pattern Scale 4 Tidbits&Twine

{via Lonny}


4. Look for a large pattern that incorporates all of your colors

One approach to begin building your mix of patterns if your space has several colors in it, is to think of the large pattern as your anchor.  It should be the biggest, boldest and incorporate ALL of your colors in your color scheme.  From there, pick a different, medium-sized pattern (about half the size of your large pattern) that utilizes SOME of the colors.  Lastly, the small pattern can use just TWO or THREE of your colors.  One easy way to do this is to look for a fabric that has coordinating patterns available.

Central Color Pattern Tidbits&Twine

{via Pinterest}

Multi-color Pattern 2 Tidbits&Twine

{via Family Circle}



5. You can use pattern even if you have a monochromatic room

Alternatively, if you have a single color, play with different shades of the color.  So long as you still vary the scale and type of pattern, you can create a very cohesive look of mixed patterns this way.


Single Color Pattern 1 Tidbits&Twine

{via Pinterest}


6.  Consider adding a solid to the mix

Don’t be afraid to throw in a solid to soften and ground the look!

Solid Plus Pattern Tidbits&Twine

{via Pinterest}

Pattern Scale 2 Tidbits&Twine

{via Houzz}


7.  Group together patterns that have similar styles

If you have a defined style in your home, also give some thought as to the types of patterns that you mix together.  Traditional patterns tend to mix easier with other traditional patterns, versus mixing them with bold, contemporary prints.  So for example, traditional prints such as florals, plaids, and damask don’t always blend easily with chevron or ikat.  This doesn’t mean you can’t mix patterns across styles – in fact, sometimes, an unexpected print gives a pop to the room – but if you’re just starting to experiment with pattern, it is often easier to stick within a style.

Traditional Patterns 2 Tidbits&Twine

{via Pinterest}


8.  Be sure to balance your patterns in the space

Balance is key!  This includes not only balancing the scale of your patterns, but balancing them equally throughout the space to avoid a lop-sided feeling.


9.  Stick with a consistent hue

Within your color palette, use colors with consistent intensities.  If your palette is pastel, don’t mix in a bold jewel tone and vice-versa.

Pattern Hue 2 Tidbits&Twine

{via Houzz}


10.  Don’t be afraid to break the rules!

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so break the rules if it looks good to you!  Sometimes, complementary patterns and motifs come together in an organic and unplanned fashion, so if it looks good to you, go for it!


These 10 tips will hopefully, get you started to become a pattern mixing master!  Just remember to keep scale and color in mind, regardless of what approach you take to mixing patterns.


Happy styling!


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24 comments on 10 Tips for Mixing Patterns Like a Master

  1. Jackie
    August 6, 2013 at 5:08 PM (4 years ago)

    Thank you so much for the fabulous post. I have pinned this to my styling tips board.

    • Tidbits&Twine
      August 6, 2013 at 10:03 PM (4 years ago)

      Thank you, Jackie!

  2. Pam
    August 10, 2013 at 2:06 PM (4 years ago)

    I came cross your blog on pinterest. You have some great tips for mixing patterns. We are in the process of revamping our living room. Your tips will come in handy!

    • Tidbits&Twine
      August 10, 2013 at 2:17 PM (4 years ago)

      Hi Pam – I’m so glad you visited my site and found this article helpful! Good luck with your living room – revamping can be fun!! :)

  3. Emily
    August 14, 2013 at 4:23 PM (4 years ago)

    Thank you for posting! After recently moving and struggling with finding just the right way to decorate and add all of the pops of color and patterns I love this has now given me the foundation to actually go for it! Thank you!!

    • Tidbits&Twine
      August 14, 2013 at 5:57 PM (4 years ago)

      Hi Emily! So glad you liked the post and found it helpful! You mentioned that you were struggling with finding the right way to decorate and I have another article that may be relevant to you, so I thought I’d share. You can check it out here: http://tidbitsandtwine.com/4-steps-to-conquer-the-fear-of-decorating/

      Good luck and have fun decorating!


  4. roberta
    January 9, 2014 at 7:41 AM (4 years ago)

    oilioboard is great to do it!!!

    • Tidbits&Twine
      January 9, 2014 at 7:48 AM (4 years ago)

      Great suggestion!

  5. Louise
    April 27, 2014 at 12:11 PM (3 years ago)

    Thank you for the post. Im trying to redo my living room and mixing patterns its a big thing in my list. Louise

    • Tidbits&Twine
      May 1, 2014 at 10:28 AM (3 years ago)

      I’m so glad you found this post helpful!

  6. Laurie
    May 14, 2014 at 6:41 AM (3 years ago)

    The second photo in example one, the designer is Sarah Richardson. I believe it was a basement renovation on Sarah’s House. I forget which season. I know because I’ve wanted that throw since I first saw it. It’s IKEA, but several years old. Now contemplating making a quilt pattern to duplicate result ;)

    • Tidbits&Twine
      May 14, 2014 at 8:30 AM (3 years ago)

      Thank you so much for letting me know! I *love* watching Sarah’s House; she’s so talented!

  7. Christine
    June 3, 2014 at 12:46 PM (3 years ago)

    Would you be willing to give advice on 2 patterns I want to use in my living room?

    • Tidbits&Twine
      June 3, 2014 at 1:46 PM (3 years ago)

      I’m happy to give you my opinion. You can email me at tidbitsandtwine {at} hotmail {dot} com. :) Kim

      • Shea
        January 2, 2017 at 1:21 PM (9 months ago)

        I am having struggles with décor in my living room. I have items that I have in mind to use as far as accent chair and area rugs…canvas paintings but not sure if the patterns will go with each other. I have people tell me not to worry most things go together now days but I’m just need some advice and hopefully I could send you some pics.

  8. Jason
    June 19, 2014 at 11:57 AM (3 years ago)

    Love the way you mix patterns. I think that this is very hard for the average consumer to do. I know I would never think to put these combos together but they all look really great. Thanks for the tips!

  9. Gail
    July 18, 2014 at 6:35 PM (3 years ago)

    Great article! I found it very informative and the photos worked wonderfully to show the text. Thank you.

    • Tidbits&Twine
      July 24, 2014 at 7:21 AM (3 years ago)

      Hi Gail – I’m so glad you liked this post! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment and let me know! :)

  10. Carolyn
    February 24, 2016 at 1:54 PM (2 years ago)

    I have a picture of my living room where I have mixed some patterns and need help where to go from here.
    Is their a way I can email you a picture?

  11. Carey Garcia
    March 10, 2016 at 7:12 PM (2 years ago)

    I just found this post via Pinterest. I am a huge fan of both color and pattern and am always looking for new tips to help me make things “right” and not too busy. The photo examples you show are beautiful!

  12. Carey Garcia
    March 10, 2016 at 7:17 PM (2 years ago)

    I just found this post via Pinterest. I’m a huge fan of both color and pattern and am always looking to tips to help me get it to look “right” instead of too busy. You show some beautiful examples in your photos!

  13. Maria
    March 15, 2016 at 6:22 PM (2 years ago)

    Your mixing pattern ideas look so great, thanks for sharing with us. I also found this post on Pinterest and can’t wait to pin it up


1Pingbacks & Trackbacks on 10 Tips for Mixing Patterns Like a Master

  1. […] Whether intentional or not we all tend to mix patterns one way or another but now designers are purposefully mixing patterns on home accessories, like pillows, throws, duvet covers and rugs. What used to be a style “do not” has firmly become a style “do” with this trend. And while this one isn’t for everyone, if you have a large enough space so your mixed pattern furnishings don’t clutter up the space too much, this is a cool trend to experiment with. […]

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