Top Ten Tips for Mixing Fabric Patterns

Top Ten Tips for Mixing Fabric Patterns

Nature mixes color, pattern, contrast and texture with perfection. Designers study the subtle rules of nature and aspire to recreate its beauty in furnishings and fabric. The perfect mix of fabric and color can make a room sing.

Where Do You Start?

Being able to create a beautiful fabric mix takes talent, skill and an intuitive sense of knowing when something is right. Designers speak of starting with inspiration. That means you start with something you love. When you start with your favorite pattern then follow the Top Ten Tips for Mixing Fabric Patterns, everything will fall into place, like magic.

Learn from the Pattern Masters

Ralph Lauren is among the best. His mixes are always elegant, tasteful and exciting. I’ll use his Lake House bedding collection as an example.

Top Ten Tips for Mixing Fabric Patterns


The pattern you love most will either be a curvy/floral or a geometric/stripe/plaid/check. There are millions of patterns, but for simplicity, they all fall into one of these two categories. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to start with a pattern you love. If you don’t love it, don’t bother. You will never be happy with the outcome. Click here to read more about The Benefits of Using a Buyer Agent in Sydney.

  • If your first pick is curvy/floral, next pick a geometric with a common color
  • If your first pick is a geometric, make your second pick curvy/floral with a common color

Note: Here the common color is red


The most exciting pattern mixes include a large, medium and small pattern. Add some of each.


Add a solid in the common color to “ground” it.


Match your background shade! Note that in all the samples, the background color (the lightest color) is ivory. If your starting pattern has a brighter white background, stay consistent with a brighter shade of white.


When adding more fabrics to the mix, pull a different color out of one of your first two choices. Design doesn’t happen in isolation. The most pleasing mixes connect the colors.


Pull a dark shade out of one of the patterns to give your mix some punch. This strong navy stripe, repeating the navy in the plaid, is perfect.


What color does for the eyes, texture does for the skin. Include some “touchables,” something smooth, nubby, sleek and soft.


Give the eyes a break with a neutral. Notice how many brown shades there are in nature; tree trunks, branches, dirt, rocks and sand. They soothe. They also make flowers, sky, water, and grasses seem more vivid. A tan cable knit and the cream colored knit add texture and calm.


The Golden Mean and the 60-30-10 Rule are guidelines for finding the right balance in your colors and fabric. Which color you choose as your dominant one is up to you. But for a beautiful outcome, strive to add the others within nature’s perfect proportions.


Repeat your major fabrics two or three times.

Decorating or Staging a Bedroom

Decorating or Staging a Bedroom

Have you noticed how model home decorators define a theme for each house? They use art and accessories to tell a story about the imaginary people who live there. Imagine an Italian villa: grape vines, olive oil, pottery. Or a country cottage: farmhouse sink, dark fixtures, homey fabrics. Or a hip urban loft: sleek furnishings in metal.

Designers are aiming for the dream that will appeal to a buyer and make them fall in love with a home. They understand that people don’t buy houses, they buy dreams.

If you want to get the best price for your home, copy this technique, it will give you a big advantage over the competition. You don’t need to spend alot of money, just look around the house and see what you can find to tell an enticing story. Then follow the guidelines below and watch buyers fall in love with your house and bedroom.

Lillie and Ed’s Condo

Lillie and her husband Ed, had to move out of their condo when she developed Alzheimer’s. The bed and their personal belongings went with them, and this is all we had left to work with. Click here to read more about Home Organization Tips Declutter Drawers.

Staging Details

  • The “bed” is an inflatable Coleman mattress on top of four large plastic bins.
  • The art above the bed shows a sunny garden and starts the story.
  • The soft greens in the picture define the color scheme.
  • Greens in the bedding and the rug carry the garden scene from the picture into the bedroom.
  • A sunhat is tossed casually on top of the soft throw on the bed. It’s as if the owner just walked in from the garden into this pretty bedroom.
  • Tip: Turn on accent lights, even in daytime, for a pretty glow to your room.

Another Vacant Bedroom and Another Story

This condo sat vacant for several months before it got its “bedtime story.”

Staging Details

  • Vettriano’s Dancing Couples art print suggests the story of a young couple dancing the evening away. The bedroom suggests a relaxing cup of coffee in bed the morning after.
  • The bed is a Coleman inflatable mattress.
  • Two inexpensive parsons tables stand in for night stands ($20 each at Wal-Mart).
  • Two matching lamps cost around $20 each.
  • Pretty bedding is layered in the same colors as the pictures.
  • A tray on the bed with two mugs, a box of gourmet cookies and some fake fruit is a fun touch. 
  • Tip: Dried black beans or coffee beans suggest the real thing in a coffee cup (1/3 full).
  • Add bright red cloth napkins to pop the color scheme.
  • Two small vases of geraniums add a fresh touch, also in red.
  • Imagine the smile on the buyer’s face as they dream of the possibilities of living in this home.
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