One question I get asked all the time is "how do you mix and match patterns"? I've spent some time analyzing how I do it and I've come up with a no fail formula for you. Please let me know in the comments what you think, and if you have any other questions!
Following are just a few examples out in the wild where you'll see how true this is.
But first, let's talk about WHY these combinations work so that you can do this for yourself.
This is my best suggestion for when you start to play with mixing and matching yourself: think about "contrasts" and "through-lines". Two patterns together should contrast, but there should also be something that ties them together... a through line (I'm making these terms up).
Contrast + Through line = Pattern Mixing Success!
When you have a large floral mixed with a tiny floral there's a contrast between the two. If there's a shape or color that is similar that ties the two together.
A large floral with a geometric print with a color or two in common between the two prints again gives them contrast but ties them together.
Something painted goes great with something that has a more digital look to it. Again, tie the two together with a color or a shape.
But most of all... PLAY. The more you do this, the more comfortable you will become. I learned to mix and match fabrics when I was designing handbags. And then when I was creating patchwork belts, I realized what my "science" behind mixing was. It's always a contrast and a through line. Play play play. Is it pleasing to your eye? Keep it. If you are questioning it, you're probably not there yet. Keep playing.
Now let's take a look at a few things I think work.
First, this is a combination from my upcoming fabric collection, Indigo and Aster which ships in March from Art Gallery Fabrics. If ever two prints shouldn't have gone together but do, it's these two. But look closer. The scales absolutely contrast, and then there's colors and shapes in common. It's the contrast plus the common colors and shapes that make it work.
mixes and matches unlike any other. I'm fully wholly in love with this shot from her home. Those animal prints with the striped pillows are SO good. Then she throws those rugs in similar color tones on the floor and it's pure magic.
Here Judy mixes animal print with floral, checks and dots. An amazing combo!
Here Classy Clutter used a Bari J. floral mural
for Murals Your Way and mixed in a leopard print pillow. I couldn't be more pleased. Bottom line... there's no doubt leopard print just goes with everything. It's a neutral. Period.
This room from Anthropologie seems like it shouldn't work either. But it does. Let's try to understand why. First off, we have a large floral and a large geometric. The scale doesn't really contrast, but the type of pattern certainly does. The colors on the sofa are pulled through from the wallpaper. And then the rug repeats the shape basic on the sofa but in a different scale while color also is picked up in the rug. I also think it works because the background color on both the rug and the wall is white.
This image from Amber Designs
mixes and matches with ease. I love how the wall is more subtle with a texture. Then there's pink that pulls through all of the prints. Love it.
Here a stool created with Bari J. Sage Fabrics sits atop a Bari J. for Loloi rug. It works because of the differing scale of the florals and the contrast of the stripe + the common colors.
This pic from Joss and Main also looks like it shouldn't work but it does. Here's why: The floral scales on the wall and floor contrast but have colors in common. The chair has a floral but it's a different kind of floral layout to the repeat and it has negative space. And then the room divider... common colors with florals in a geometric layout. This is pattern mix match gold right here.
I love this photo from Kansas Girl Vintage
. The layers of plates on top of the striped blanket have colors in common but vary in scale and pattern.
I'm sure you get the idea now. I'd love to know what you think and if you have any questions. I highly recommend you play and be willing to make mistakes. And trust your gut. There may be parameters but there really are no rules! Happy pattern mixing!