6 Fail-Proof Tips for Mixing Patterns, According to Design Pros

Maximalism is on-trend—here's how to get the look.

Whether your interior design style is traditional, contemporary, or modern, adding pattern to your decor scheme is a great way to elevate any space and pump up the visual interest. Introduce more than one print and the room can reach a new level entirely. 

However, for those who aren’t interior designers, mixing prints can feel like an intimidating process. Decorating with too many (or a combination of the wrong ones) can make a room feel busy or even cluttered.

But mixing prints tastefully isn’t as challenging as you might imagine. Here’s how the experts recommend decorating with patterns.


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Pick a Color Palette

One foolproof way to mix prints is to choose patterns in the same color family. “Pulling one less dominant color from a print, such as pulling the leaf green from a floral and using that color as your second print's main color is always a smart move. It really helps marry the two,” explains interior designer Jennifer Hunter. 

Put Away Your Fears

When most people mix prints, they often second-guess themselves. Whether it’s choosing a big-ticket item like a patterned sofa or something less impactful like a throw blanket—it’s hard to be 100 percent confident.

Designer and artist Elizabeth Sutton recommends starting from a state of fearlessness. “Don't be afraid! Put a beige plaid on a drape with a different patterned rug in the same beige family, and finish it off with artwork in the same color palette. Mix a black and white geometric rug with a black and white butterfly pattern to stay monochrome, or pop the black and white against a colorful patterned artwork.” 

Begin with Accessories

If you want to mix prints but don’t know where to start, you can’t go wrong with throw pillows, explains Hunter. “We love mixing with sofa pillows and bringing in other elements from the room. For example, reintroducing the floral drapery fabric as a pillow alongside a checked pillow in the same fabric as accent chairs.”

Still unsure what to do? Start with stripes and another pattern. “We love using a ticking stripe paired with a bold floral. The ticking stripe helps ground the floral, but is a bit more visually interesting than your average stripe,” says Hunter.

Add Patterned Artwork

Sutton, who is best known for her patterned art including roses, butterflies, and geometric shapes, tells me that mixing prints and patterns on artwork is a great way to incorporate bold prints into any space (even bathrooms and dining rooms). She suggests going with prints that have consistency in the scale of the pattern, as well as the overall size of the artwork. “For example, if you are mixing three patterns, make sure each artwork is the same size. When it comes to color, either keep your patterns the same palette or make sure the palettes are very complementary.”

Hunter shares the same sentiment no matter what type of print you’re trying to mix. “The most important factor when mixing prints is the scale, as you must pick prints with a balanced scale and proportion,” she says.

Avoid Repeats

When you find a print you love, you may be tempted to use it repeatedly. Or buy it in multiple colors. However, this rarely works. “Don't repeat the same pattern over and over. It's really not interesting," says Sutton.

Do Less

Remember, prints make a bold statement, and while you might be enthusiastic, Sutton advises against going over the top. “Don't pattern everything—make sure to leave some solid space for patterns to breathe.” 

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