Pattern and Scale: Getting it Right

Pattern can have a big impact on how a room feels. If you are considering adding patterns into your decor but are uncertain as to how to introduce pattern without turning the room into one huge kaleidoscope – there are a few points of consideration to take into account in order to make your decision a confident one.

Several simple and complex patterns and details combined create a whole design. As long as colors coordinate closely there is space around each different fabric.

Size Matters

Small and subtle patterns reduce the apparent scale of an object.  Large bold patterns make objects look bigger. For example, if you have a blue and white vase painted with houses, trees, bridges, and people, and you place this vase in front of a blue-patterned curtain, the vase will blend in with the curtain, and the scale of the vase will be reduced. If the vase is a solid color that contrasts with the blue of the curtains, perhaps in yellow or red, the vase will appear much larger.  If you have a pastel patterned sofa set against a light-colored wall, it will look much smaller than if it were covered in a bright solid color.

When mixing patterns, keep the palette to a few colors, like this one in aqua, poppy, and white. {Photo: Lucas Allen}

Whenever combining different patterns it’s important to take their size into consideration. Mixing pattern sizes is an essential ingredient in achieving balance within the room. Avoid using the same scale and pattern combination next to each other. For instance; for a window treatment you may want to use a larger sized patterned, whereas on throw pillows the pattern should be much smaller. If you’re trying to pull a space together and create harmony, think larger patterns. Use smaller patterns to draw attention to one part of a room. Busy patterns will increase the energy level in a room while simple or pale patterns promote calmness.

If you’re nervous about using patterns, start off with similar patterns and keep them thematically linked.