This month, we worked with designers and professional organizers to transform a four-bedroom penthouse in the Prospect Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. Jessica McCarthy, the Creative Director of Decorist and the designer behind the apartment's gorgeous guest room, shares her tips for adding pops of pattern to any space.

By Tamara Kraus
Updated September 20, 2018
Real Simple home ebay deals
That's how you add character to a space, says McCarthy, because it’s probably filled with furniture that anyone can buy. Not only can the piece add charm, but it can also be a fraction of the retail cost. (In the photo above, the guestroom dresser is from Craigslist.)
| Credit: Christopher Testani

Have you ever wanted to know what a designer was thinking while choosing fabrics, a color palette, or even haggling deals online? Real Simple decided to take matters into our own hands, so we recently took over a stunning Brooklyn apartment and had some of the top designers and organizers work their magic in the space. Here, they weigh in on patterns.

Outdated Design Rooms in 2020
Credit: Christopher Testani

Limit the Color Palette

Jessica McCarthy, the Creative Director of Decorist, designed this gorgeous guest room, complete with a plaid headboard, and we can’t help but wonder how she mixed patterns so effortlessly. With a black, plaid headboard and ornate vintage rug, you might not think these items would work harmoniously together—that is, until you see the photo for yourself. Her top tip to achieving this look? Stick to a color palette with no more than four colors to keep things cohesive. Here, she used black, rusty orange, and indigo from the vintage rug and incorporated dashes of the colors throughout the space. While the headboard was mostly black, the patterned pillows pulled out the orange, and she included gray candles around the room to tie everything together.

real simple home dresser
Credit: Christopher Testani

Choose an Anchor Piece

By incorporating colors that are all found in the vintage rug underfoot, the rug serves as a sturdy foundation for the room's design. In a room where multiple patterns could set the space's style adrift, the rug serves as an anchor for the design. In your own space, choose one item that will guide the limited color palette, then play around with a few patterns that incorporate those colors.