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How To Use Multiple Patterns In One Room

Thursday 12th March, 2015

Using pattern, particularly bold patterns, can be intimidating. You love the idea of using them but when push comes to shove you bottle out at the last minute for fear of getting it wrong. Which is possibly a large part of where the trend for feature walls came from, it was an easy way of introducing something bold without having to leap in with both feet and commit to having it all over the room. But what you’re often left with is a disjointed patch of pattern that’s sitting by itself with little to support it.

One principle of using pattern is to make sure it’s repeated somewhere else in the room, so if you’re using a big pattern on your curtains, repeat the pattern on something else, such as cushions; and likewise with your secondary patterns, textures and plains.

Big, bold patterns need to be supported by other patterns to help them find their place. You don’t want one pattern to shout over everything else, a room should feel balanced with everything working in harmony. So when you enter the room the thing you want to notice is the overall feel of the room rather than one element shouting at you. The different elements of a room, or an outfit, should work in harmony and complement each other not fight for attention.

So how do you help a big pattern settle into a room? The key is to use other patterns to support it, so it’s not the only thing you notice in the room. You can achieve this through using secondary patterns, textures and plains, which all play their vital part in creating the overall feel of the room.

What we mean by a big pattern, texture or plain is fairly simple, but what do we mean by a secondary pattern? 

Secondary patterns are something that either have less colours, a simpler pattern and/or a smaller scale. They generally pick up on the colours featured in the big pattern and can sometimes be stronger in their intensity of colour, depending on the intensity of the big pattern.

So for example, if we wanted to use ‘Adam’s Eden’ by Lewis & Wood as a curtain fabric, which is what we would term a big pattern, what secondary patterns would we need to support this? A check would work well, such as ‘Iona’ by Marvic Textiles, it is a smaller scale design but picks up on some of the colours from the big pattern, but with more intensity. The curtain fabric features rich reds and soft greens but all on a light background, so while the pattern is big the use of the colours is not necessarily intense. So the check picks up on those same colours but delivers them with greater intensity. In this instance the check would work well on a large footstool and some cushions. Then to support both of these patterns, textures would work well such as ‘Stratford’ by Colefax & Fowler in Tomato and Leaf Green, you might use these to cover large items such as upholstery or armchairs. Then as your wallpaper you could introduce ‘Bermuda Hemp in Ecru’ by Phillip Jeffries as it picks up on the colour and texture of the background of the curtain fabric.

Adam’s Eden by Lewis & Wood; Bermuda Hemp in Ecru by Phillip Jeffries; Stratford Leaf Green by Colefax & Fowler; Iona by Marvic Textiles; Stratford Tomato by Colefax & Fowler

And finally, why not complete the look with red silk lampshades to inject a few finishing pops of colour!

Georgie Rudge is a highly experienced interior decorator and owner of thriving Battersea-based interior design company Town House Interiors, which is the sister company to Country House Interiors in Dorset, established in 1989. 


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