Mixing Prints

The use of textiles and fabrics are some of my favorite parts of design. The foundation of a well put together space always begins with the furniture, but absolutely comes alive with the use of textiles. I’m generally fearless when it comes to the use of color and pattern, but I understand how anxiety provoking it can be to take the plunge. However, I promise by implementing a few simple guidelines and choosing what makes you HAPPY, we will have you mixing prints like a master in no time!

Often times, for me, a beautiful fabric or wallpaper will be the starting point for my entire design plan. Depending on the project I will ask myself what type of print are we working with? The first question I ask is, what kind of color scheme is the print setting the stage for? Once you determine what the dominant color will be you have just determined your foundation. I will almost always take that color and use it in a big way. Perhaps it’s a rug or large upholstered piece. Whatever it may be I think of it as the anchor...the choice that will pull all the other prints together. The teal rug in the bedroom below really anchors the printed wallpaper that is on the ceiling and acts as a really strong foundation for all the pattern and artwork that brings the space alive.

My next question is what is the scale of the pattern? Is it small, big, floral, geometric, striped? If it’s big and floral, I will most always look for a smaller print or stripe that balances out the bolder choice. And vice versa if I’m starting with a more simple pattern. By using these very basic guidelines and prioritizing patterns with your dominant color choice you are mixing prints without even batting an eyelash!

Seems simple enough, right?? That’s basic ‘Mixing Prints’ 101. But How about we take it a step further??? Perhaps we add a splash that ignores the basic rules and goes for a real statement. This is the next level of mixing patterns and prints that will really make you look like a pro.

Let’s start by breaking out the basic color chart:


If you want to take it up a notch with a splash of something unexpected a good starting point is choosing a pattern that is a complimentary color of your dominant choice. And you can determine what that color is if you simply look directly across the color wheel. Without going into a biology lesson and talking about how our eyes see and perceive color, knowing what colors compliment each other will probably be very easy to determine without even consulting the wheel. It simply just ‘goes’! This beautiful bedroom below is a perfect example of how complimentary colors can create some of the most beautiful and dynamic spaces. It’s also a really incredible use of mixed prints.

Via  @decorpad

Now, if you really want to knock people’s socks off let’s dip our toe into a little riskier choice and choose the next door neighbor (or analogous color) of your dominant one. Full disclosure, this CAN be a bit jarring, but it also can be epic and unexpected. I’m playing around with a pop of yellow in the ‘green’ story on my design board. I love the bright, sunny pattern and it really works in the cabana project I’m in the middle of.

Photo by Heidi Ryder

Photo by Heidi Ryder

I have spent a good deal of time talking about color. Mixing prints often comes into play when you’re trying to achieve a monochromatic look too! If you’re looking to achieve that aesthetic with neutral colors I would absolutely recommend using texture as a guide. Perhaps you find a great grass cloth wallpaper or use a jacquard fabric where the patterns are woven instead of printed. And in the case of my daughters room, I was certain I was going for a monochromatic look, but a colorful one. I fell in love with a small scale print from Schumacher. It was clear lavender was going to be the star of the show, but the small scale of that print afforded me the freedom to mix in a bit of a bolder print for the walls. When I happened upon Sissy and Marley’s ‘XO’ wallpaper in lavender I rolled the dice and covered every inch of wall space with it. It’s important to note that monochromatic rooms that aren’t rooted in neutral tones can be a bit of a gamble. When I share the full room reveal, I will talk about the importance of mixing in neutral accents and furnishings that don’t take away from the story you are trying to tell, but also give a little bit of relief from the room turning into all one thing. Here’s a little peek at her room that is a great example of this idea.

Photo by Heidi Ryder

Photo by Heidi Ryder

I think it’s clear I’m a bit of a textile junkie. If you’re looking to take your space to the next level and start dabbling in the art of mixing prints, I hope this helps! And for all of my expert print mixers, share your spaces that are giving off design envy vibes!