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Interior Design: How to Have Fun with Patterns

Achieve that good kind of visual clash in your home by layering shapes, textures, and colors.

By Darren Davis April 30, 2018 Published in the May 2018 issue of Seattle Met

Courtesy christophe servieres staircaselightsoff  iqymkx

Nothing adds pop to a room like an unexpected contrast of patterns. While you might throw a pair of zigzagged pillows on a neutral-colored couch and call it a day, there are so many more opportunities to incorporate new layers and dimensions to a space without making it look like a carnival fun house. A pair of pattern--loving interior designers offers tips on how to introduce that perfect blend of character and contrast.

The Experts: Andrew Gath, Gath Interior DesignAllison Lind, Allison Lind Interiors 

Compare and Compose

Gath says you should feel free to use different iterations of the same pattern in a room, like plaid, so long as they vary in scale, color, and texture. Or pair architectural patterns of sharp geometric shapes alongside more organic patterns with less defined structure for a sophisticated look.

Get Tactile

Lind suggests layering not just patterns but textures to create interesting contrasts and add depth to a room. A smooth fabric on furniture, like denim or linen, wants pillows of a chunkier texture. Vinyl and grass-cloth wall coverings pair well with window drapes of a lighter texture.

Find Balance

“If you have a visually busy room with a lot of layers, look to an adjacent room to bring relief from that,” says Gath. Balancing colorful and neutral rooms throughout a home elevates the visually interesting spaces and makes them feel more unique. Loving a color or pattern doesn’t mean you need it everywhere.

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Clashing Is Cool

Lind’s personal decorating philosophy is to establish a boundary you’re comfortable with, then “dip your toe just over it.” Contrasting patterns should still share a unifying theme, often a common color, but don’t aim for perfect harmony. And consider throwing in opposing colors, perhaps an area rug. 

Scale Down

A little pattern play goes a long way. Gath suggests starting off by introducing just two such elements in a room. But if you’re feeling ambitious, keep in mind the size of the pattern itself matters. Scale from a larger to smaller repeating pattern with each new detail you include.

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