Why It Works

Most of us “decorate” over a period of, oh, say, forever. It’s not like we start with a completely empty house and then, BAM! In one fell swoop we fill it with stuff. Our home is filled with a mixed bag of how we acquired things: that bookshelf that we got in college; the table your grandmother gave you; the chair your friend was getting rid of; the sofa set you found at the local box store; the entertainment center you scored at a garage sale; and the dresser he or she brought with them when they moved in.

But what if you just decided one day that you would start to slowly replace and/or add to what you have, and do it with intent? It’s called “decorating”, or “interior design”. Decorating your home can be overwhelming. The first overwhelming factor is WHAT do you want the finished product to look like. Second is HOW to get it within your budget. Third is WHERE to shop. So when someone throws out the idea of decorating with mixed patterns, that just pushes some over the edge.

I love gorgeous, patterned textiles and amazing, textured furniture and details. But to actually plan a design in a room in my home that uses these things is rather tricky. So, I looked to my fellow bloggers and was floored by how many posts there are on the topic of decorating with mixed patterns and textures. Three stood out to me:

  1. Kit Kemp seems to have this whole pattern mixing down. I mean, she is good. So good that she has designed hotel rooms and spas and has her own line of pillows and has designed dinner ware and so on. She has a blog with tons of really cool and exciting features (video tours of the hotels she has decorated; blog posts; tons of pictures of amazing interior design; a link to shopping her collection…). Bookmark this one people. Click here.
  2. Twine Room Design’s blog had a terrific blog that explains very easily how to mix patterns and textures, and they provide a lot of pictoral examples. Check it out here.
  3. Room to Design’s blog took a different approach with explaining how to mix patterns, which I found refreshing. The blogger wrote out the design rules as you would write out directions on how to get somewhere. After reading the quick, easy to understand post (click here to read it), I felt that designing with mixed patterns wouldn’t be so hard after all.

I have my own twist on the “decorating-with-mixed-patterns” blog post. This one is called “Why It Works”. Take this room, for example:

The reason these things match, even though they are not the same patterns, is because they share four commons colors: black, white, pink and blue. The walls and floor are both a very light neutral color, so as not to compete. The lamp, lamp table, coffee table and vase are all white or neutral as well. And, as we learned from the other interior design bloggers, there are a mix of pattern sizes and those patterns are mostly all liner. The chair has lines in its pattern, as do the couch, the rug and the black and white thrown pillows.

The reason why this room above works is because there are two main colors: orange (I would call it rust) and navy. As blue and orange are complementary colors on the color wheel, it makes for a stunning mix. In this room every piece of furniture you can sit on is covered in a different textile geometric pattern. The orange chairs and ottoman have tiny patterns, the couch has a bit bigger pattern and the foot stool in the far right corner has the largest pattern. The wallpaper and curtains have a similar pattern to the couch, and the art on the wall is similar to the rug. So even though there is a lot going on here, it all ties together.

This one is a little trickier to explain why it works. It has more to do with the whole exotic flair. Green and pink are the common colors, with the beautiful stained wood wainscoting acting as a grounding force for the design. Notice also the black and white checkered floors and the black table bases also ground the whole room. Black-and-white- anything can almost be used as a neutral when decorating with pattern. The live plants really bring the wallpaper to life. The cushions on the bench match the wallpaper. The large white globe lamps are basic white, but have squares on them which tie into the squares on the floor. And, finally, the teal wall to the left and the accents of teal on the right go with the pink flowers in the wallpaper. Teal has green in it, which is why it works with the palm leaves in the wallpaper as well. And, remember that green and red are complementary colors on the color wheel. Teal has green in it and pink is a light shade of red. Boo ya.

This cozy sitting room says modern hunting lodge all over it. The black and white chairs and pillows (stripes + geometric pattern= winner) tie in with the white ottoman and white knick knacks on the mantel. The rust in the rug ties in with the fireplace rock, the wood in the fire place and the rust colored flowers on the mantel. The blue-gray wall goes so well with that rust color in the rug because….orange and blue are complementary colors on the color wheel!

This is one of Kit Kemp’s hotel room designs

I love what is going on here. This is so sophisticated and boho and chic all at once. The reason this room works so well is because of the blues and reds, which are both primary colors. There are some subtle things at work here. Firstly, notice that the wallpaper has a similar diamond pattern in it to the headboard, and the blues match perfectly. The white quilt on the bed also has some diamond patterns in it, tying it in nicely to the headboard and wallpaper. The geometric curtains work because the pattern is larger and the blue matches exactly to the wall and headboard. Those sweet red pillows are covered in diamond pattern and, of course tie into the bench at the foot of the bed. The fact that the white bedspread separates the two red items in the room is no mistake. The placement of the red accent colors is important to keeping this room chic.

This room may not be my cup of tea, but I believe it actually works. Floral pattern is clearly the binding force, as are the deep blues, reds and purples, with pinks and teals as secondary relatives. The chair is actually mostly white which ties in with the white in the wallpaper, and it acts as a relief to all the dark blue.

CHALLENGE TIME! I challenge you to take a look at the next three rooms and figure out why they work. Comment on this post if you dare and share your thoughts!

Number 1
Number 2
Number 3

Now, let’s all start incorporating some pattern into our lives!

One thought on “Why It Works

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: