Get a PhD in Mixing Patterns in your Home

Patterns are all the rage at the moment, as is mixing them. But when you try somehow your room looks more like chaos theory than the latest Architectural Digest layout.

I’ve been told that one of my ninja skills is mixing patterns, so I wanted to break down my best advice on how you too can become a PhD in mixing patterns in your home. I honed these skills as a personal stylist, so these tips can translate to your wardrobe as well.

Here’s how I break down my 3 levels of mixing patterns and the simple steps that go with them.

Important note: if you’re happy at Level One, there’s no shame in staying there. Not everyone is meant to go on to Level Two or Three. This isn’t Ms. Pacman, after all.

Level One: Associates degree in mixing patterns

1. Choose the theme for your mix, such as a floral pattern.

2. Keeping in mind #1, choose two patterns, one large and one small. There needs to be a definite difference between the size of the two graphics.

3. When you pick these patterns look for at least one main color, present in each, that is an EXACT match. Ta da! You just got your first degree in mixing patterns. It really is that simple.

Extra Points: Add in a third item in a solid color (also present in both patterns, but with texture) and throw that into the mix. This will break up all the graphics and make the look more layered but also tone it down.

Black and white is the common theme that pulls these pieces together and creates harmony and balance.

Level Two: Graduate degree in mixing patterns

1. Again, start with two patterns that you like, one large and one small.

2. In this case you’ll change up the design of the patterns: for example, one could be a super modern graphic pattern and the other one a toile. Mind blown!

3. Have a color between the two that is similar but it doesn’t have to be an exact match (although it still could be, that’s ok too).

Extra Points: Add in a third item that has pattern within its texture yet is also a solid color.

Mixing patterns on your floor is not for the timid but is so delightful and unexpected.

Level Three: PhD in mixing patterns

Gloves are off here, People, and I’m warning you that anything can happen.

This is where things become less formulaic and more artistic.

1. Start with either one of the levels mentioned above and then start to play with, and layer in, other patterns and textures into your mix. Add in a third pattern, a fourth pattern, gasp, even a fifth!

2. Not all patterns are one-dimensional, remember that textures add a big punch of design savoire faire as well. The best combinations always feature a mix of textures (faux fur, tassels, velvet, embroidery, etc) and a mix of graphic patterns.

4. Remember to keep some of your patterns small, others larger, and a color, theme or harmonizing graphic between them when you’re going all out like this.

Fun mix of pattern and color at the Beyond the Streets exhibit

Not for the faint of heart, and certainly not for everyone, mixing patterns is something that takes a detailed eye to perfect. I like to start by going all out and then let it sit for 24 hours, then I come back fresh the next day and look at it again.

Still a little timid? Start with a black and white or neutral palette and add in some pops of color and patern as you go. Think of this as a push-pull, yin-yang, strive for balance, but with a twist of “hmmm, that’s interesting.” Mixing patterns should push you a bit and make you think, like any good work of art.

Rather than go with an all out explosion of pattern a la Tony Duquette, opt to start much smaller, with pillows, add in some wallpaper, then layer in rugs and artwork. Start small and as you gain confidence you can move up to bigger items.

Where can you mix patterns? Textiles, flooring, artwork, rugs, even books. A truly luxe designer look creates a story by layering patterns throughout the room, creating a completely unique yet cohesive space.

Here are some fail-proof pattern combinations to try:

Stripes and Florals
Paisleys and Stripes
Modern Graphic and Toile
Polka Dot and Floral
Damask and Floral
Floral and Toile
Modern Graphic and Floral

So there you have it, my best tips to achieve your PhD in mixing patterns to achieve a completely unique, high-end designer look in your home.

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