I think of mixing pattern and color as a bit like cooking: you need the right blend of ingredients for something to taste just right. If you want fudge brownies, two 2 eggs will do, but for more cake-like brownies, three eggs is better. The same goes for the ingredients you use for interior design. Using solid fabrics will give you a more modern feel, whereas prints can be more traditional.
As an interior designer, I am way more comfortable with my design recipe than I am in the kitchen with any cooking recipe. For me, cooking is always an experiment that is sometimes a successful, tasty dinner, but most of the time, not exactly what I was hoping for. My process for designing is thankfully never a surprise, but instead an easy plan with great results.
I see my clients getting nervous and apprehensive when it comes time to pick fabrics, wallpapers and area rugs with patterns. It does seem to be the place most people get stuck. They want to create interest without making a mess of busy pattern and color. As a result, most people without guidance or knowing any better “play it safe” and wind up with bland, boring and uninspired spaces.
My recipe for mixing patterns for your home is simple: you want to mix the scale of the patterns and coordinate the colors. You also need to get the amount of each pattern correct. I once helped a client reupholster her living room after she had done it herself. This client had the right ingredients but in the wrong amounts. She always knew she did not like the result of what she did, but she could not see where she had gone wrong.
The basic recipe mix is a texture, a small and / or medium scale print, and a large, bolder print that has at least one color consistently the same in all. For example, I usually choose a texture or tile tone on tone for the largest piece in the room that is maybe your sofa. Then you'll need to add some interest with a large print in smaller amount which could be a chair. Finally add in a medium print in a larger way which could be your window treatments. Making sure you have at least one color that keeps constant and goes through all prints to blend all the flavors together.
Mixing patterns holds a mystery to most, but with my recipe you can create a yummy space for your whole family to enjoy. If you are still nervous about designing your room, seek expert advice from an experienced interior designer.