From large scale floral fabrics to subtle speckled work surfaces, patterns bring movement and pace to a room scheme, and even the smallest or slightest pattern makes a contribution to the overall look of a room.
We usually associate pattern with wallpapers and soft furnishings, but look around you and you will find a huge assortment of patterns in any room, from bathroom tiles and kitchen work surfaces to decorative details such as lampshades and curtains tie-backs.
The size and repeat of the pattern will influence how you use it. Some patterns have an obvious repeat, such as wallpapers and fabrics with a distinct motif that can be seen repeating along the roll or across the width. Other patterns are less distinct, such as wallpapers with a swirly, interlocking pattern which, once hung, appears to flow seamlessly across the wall.
Large scale patterns dominate rooms, drawing the eye towards them. They look good when used as a focal point in one area of a room, such as a two-tone damask wallpaper hung as an accent wall in a dining or living room, or a bold floral curtain fabric used to frame a dramatic bay window. This single use of a pattern turns the pattern itself into a feature, drawing the eye towards it. This look can be very effective, but it needs to be surrounded by plenty of unadorned space.
If you’re unsure where to start, use large scale patterns with caution, especially if the room is of small size.
Busy, multi-colored patterns are wonderful as accents to a room scheme, but overwhelm a room if they are used on every surface. Keep the background color plain, and ensure the patterns used are chosen in colors that coordinate with each other.
Layers of patterns will create a room scheme with depth. Fabric collections frequently have several patterns all related to the same theme, such as a large scale floral, a sprigged floral, and a plain textured weave. Pick one to be the main pattern in the scheme, and then add the others in smaller quantities for a coordinated yet highly patterned scheme. For an eclectic look, pick patterns with similar colors or themes, and then mix several together.
Patterns used as detailing help define the space around them. Patterned trim on plain scatter cushions or a bedspread will add variety and emphasize their shape; patterned braid along the bottom of a simple roller blind or a patterned border of tiles in a plain tiled bathroom draws the eye towards the object and helps create visual interest in the room.
Small-scale wallpaper patterns, used on every wall, can help small bedrooms and bathrooms appear warm and cosy. Geometric patterns, whether simple stripes or funky retro graphics, look wonderful on wallpaper, where you can appreciate the mathematical symmetry of the design, as long as the walls are straight and true. A horizontal striped wallpaper will accentuate the height of a room, while a striped stair runner will draw attention towards and up the stairs.
Stripes and checks mix well with each other, and with other simple designs such as polka dots and stars. They are also good companions to floral and toile de Jouy patterns, provided that the colors of the various elements coordinate.
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