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Interior Design: Mixing Patterns

It seems that there are no hard and fast rules about anything anymore. The standard living room arrangement with a sofa, two end tables with lamps, a coffee table and a chair are not necessarily de rigueur anymore. Trends and changing styles push the boundaries of how we evaluate the degree to which our spaces are a reflection of who we are.

Who we are and how we see ourselves in the world changes over time, fostered by our experiences. That being said, we should not feel compelled to religiously follow one style or another, but endeavor to have our spaces be a reflection of who we are at any given point in time.

Since this is a dynamic process, it's only natural that we may want to freshen things up from time to time when it comes to our living spaces. There may be a tendency to gravitate to the "Pretty Things" that catch our eye without figuring out how they will all work together in the grand scheme of things.

I remember a friend who used to work at a design center. She went to their semi-annual sales each year and had accumulated a large amount of "Designer" furnishings that she proudly displayed in her home. Each piece was beautiful and well made, but I remember thinking: "This looks like a mish mosh of floor samples". There were six different chairs at her dining room table and myriad other things in her dining room that just didn't work together.

Mixing patterns is fine, but it works best when there is a unifying theme that connects all the individual pieces together. For example, if you want to work with stripes, chevrons and polka-dots, it might be best to choose one of these patterns to repeat. If you're using one of these patterns in the wallpaper, you might want to repeat it in a subtle way elsewhere in the room.

When mixing patterns, keep the scale or size of the objects in mind. If you're going with a bold chevron patterned wall paper, and want to repeat this pattern in another object, you might want to keep the secondary object smaller in scale as related to the first. In other words, you wouldn't want to do a chevron patterned wallpaper and repeat the same pattern on a sofa. Repeating the chevron pattern might best be reserved for a smaller object such as a pillow, small area rug, etc. You should also vary the size of the pattern, going with different sizes of the same pattern. This will add interest, but not overwhelm.

Color can also be a unifying theme. If you want to work with all three of these patterns, it might be best to do them all in the same color combinations. That way, the patterns will not be too overwhelming when you walk into the room.

You may have heard that there is a certain logic in chaos. This should be the guiding principle in your approach to mixing patterns to decorate your room. Some thought should be put into it and each object and pattern selected so as to contribute to the overall statement for the room. You will of course, also want to include some solid colors that will help create a place for the eye to rest. However, keep these to a minimum so that they don't compete with the patterns you're using.

When taking this bold approach to decorating, draw it out first and try to get an idea of what it's going to look like before you invest time and money buying materials. Finally, be adventurous and have fun. Your rooms should truly be a reflection of who you are.

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About the Author

Valerie Le Beaux, Essence of You Designs
P.O. Box 6393
Oakland, CA 94603

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