Pro Pointers for Mixing Prints

In fashion, it takes a bit of science (and savvy) to get a look just right, especially when mixing prints. The same rings true in design, and Stylist Eddie Ross (love) is on the same page. "The way you put patterns together is not very different from how you build a great outfit," says Ross. "Don't get too matchy-matchy, vary the textures for visual interest and tap into those classic combinations that really work."

Solid rooms are safe--and honestly, boring. Ross dished these helpful tips for Calico Corners to help us all become master mixologists: 

  1. Realize that pattern adds personality to a room!  It can tell stories about you and your family--perhaps your interest in gardening, modern art, literature, travel or history.  Pattern also hides a multitude of sins, such as a not-so-great view or a chair that's seen better days.
  2.  Classic pattern combinations that work well include:
  • A graphic print and a bold geometric jacquard
  • A paisley and a tartan plaid
  • A great floral print and a wide stripe
  • A toile and a check or small plaid
  • A jacquard tapestry and a cut velvet
  • A large floral and a plaid
Photo: Calico Corners
  1. For an easy way to decorate, start with a multi-color pattern that you love; then pull out colors from that fabric for the rest of the room.  It's much easier to start with a fabric and then select colors for paint and carpet.
  2. Don't get too matchy-matchy when coordinating color!  That "in-between color" that's not really in the fabric may be the best choice for paint and carpet that will harmonize beautifully.
  3. Mix up the textures of your fabrics--don't use all formal (dressy) fabrics or all casual fabrics.  Varied textures make the room more visually interesting.  It's pairing a chic tweed blazer with your favorite jeans, states Ross.  One texture sets off another.
  4. Repeat fabric patterns for a cohesive look.  For example, repeat the fabric used in the drapery on a bed coverlet, or the pillow shams of a bedroom.  Make accent pillows of the same fabric used on a bench or a side chair.
  5. Vary the scale of the patterns in the room.  Allow one pattern to be dominant. Allow others to be secondary or even mini in scale.  When you mix up the scale of fabric and wall covering in a room, you'll avoid having patterns fight one another for attention.
  6. For a more contemporary feel to a room, add a bold stripe, graphic pattern or strong geometric.  Even on a traditional camelback sofa or a wing chair, a bold fabric can create a very unique, stunning piece.  The juxtaposition of a traditional frame and a contemporary fabric—or vice-versa—creates a playful tension in the room.
  7. Play with fabric and pattern in the store--and borrow fabrics to try at home--until you find the right mix for your style.  Calico sales associates can suggest additional combinations that you might not have considered.  It might send you in an exciting new direction!
  8. Pattern can also come in the form of wallcovering and artwork on the walls.  Be sure to factor that in before you select fabrics.  If there is a lot of pattern in these areas, you may want more subtle patterns in your fabrics, such as a tone-on-tone stripe or damask or small jacquard.


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