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  • Writer's pictureElisha Rickward

How to: Play with Pattern

As you know I celebrate colour and pattern in all its guises and love for my client’s to end up with something unique & individual for their home. To this end I strive hard to create a design scheme for them that is different from that of Mrs Jones next door (even if they really love exactly what Mrs Jones has done with her house - I’m just not sure that Mrs Jones would be thrilled to see it replicated next door!).

To achieve individuality & ensure that everything isn’t too matching (or looking like you have just quickly shopped your favourite store and added everything to the cart in one foul swoop) it is worth understanding how to work with colour and pattern to arrive at a beautifully curated space.

Tip One: Choose a palette of colour(s) that you love

When mixing any elements in design you want to find a common thread that will link everything together and make it feel cohesive – the simplest place to start is with colour.

Choose colour (s) that you are drawn to and consider their tonal value to create an aesthetically pleasing environment.

If you want to have a few different colours in the mix it can be helpful to draw on the 60 / 30 / 10 rule. This states that 60 percent of your room should be a dominant colour, while 30 percent is a secondary colour and the remaining 10 percent perhaps a mix of a few different colours.

Remember also that the eye loves to see repetition – so reference colours across rooms and repeat similar colours in decorative items such as scatter cushions, artworks, lamp bases etc – not surprisingly I have bits of blue in most rooms in the house (except my daughter’s room as having been dressed head to toe and given a blue room when she was young {when all her friends had pink} she is of course now of course anti-blue!)

Image Credit: House Beautiful - notice the repetition of the the soft sage, lavender and jacaranda blues in this cleverly crafted scheme.

Tip Two: Mix different pattern types (and remember to vary the scale of the patterns)

When you mix patterns make sure they are not all not the same size. Too much of any one pattern in a room can create a visual distraction confusing the eye so that it doesn’t really know where to look. So mix various patterns of different sizes together (working within your colour family of course).

Ideally it’s great to mix geometric patterns with a strong line – like checks & stripes & chevron with softer & more organic patterns – think curves and movement here.

So for example you might start with a bold floral print (organic) and (then pulling inspiration from some of the colours referenced in that floral design) mix back in with a stripe and say another geometric print like hounds tooth or chevron. Remember you can easily include plain block colours as well if you want a ‘quieter’ play of pattern.

It is also important to consider the scale of the patterns to ensure that they don’t compete. For example I usually start with a large scale - bold pattern that is the ‘hero’ piece and tie it back with a few smaller prints say a gingham and a stripe to complement it.

The following mix in my home is still one of my favourites – I started with the strong floral print in the cushion and used the beautiful colours for inspiration to select a bold stripe and mixed back in with a smaller geometric that I had piped in fuschia to tie it all together.

Image credit: Rickward Design Studio

Tip Three: Choose no more than four patterns in your decorating scheme

Whilst mixing patterns & colours can bring a lot of life and energy to your home doing too much can overwhelm the room and make it feel chaotic. Mixing in solid colours & neutrals will help provide a visual break and let the eye know where to rest. Also make sure the pattern flows around the room and is not just concentrated on one side.

Image Credit: Rickward Design Studio - Maisy the wonder dog

Tip Four: Be brave and go bold

Although I generally always include subtle patterns in my room schemes to bring things together - I love, love, love to choose a bold pattern where I can to make a playful statement. This could be a statement wallpaper in a bathroom, a patterned arm chair or even a large scale, oversized artwork that demands attention.

Remember though where to draw the line – trying to add too many statements can work against you and overwhelm the room.

Image Credit: Bradshaw Designs via Pinterest

The bottom line is pattern definitely adds energy to spaces and makes them more inviting so having fun playing around & remember design is meant to be fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Elisha x

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