When it comes to choosing a pattern over a solid, we may hesitate because patterns can cause big design mistakes and blow a design budget if the choice turns out not to be a wise one. It really does take experience to apply patterns tactfully. Imagine the space above with the same chair upholstered with just the solid navy blue fabric. It would still probably be a beautiful chair. But, most of us agree that there is just something about the pattern that makes that chair a little more inviting. To apply patterns like a designer, give the following simple guidelines a try so that practical applications of patterns are possible without so much risk.
Successful Pattern Mixing Begins Here
The ability to successly mix a pattern signifies a deft eye and shows a visual level of complexity that so often is achieved by a designer. The following guidelines are not strict rules, but merely applications where successful pattern mixing begins.
Design with Patterns in Odd Numbers
Work with bold patterns in odd numbers- one, three or five. We suggest to start with one or three. If the pattern is most important to you, then work from there but if you have other entities of your design already in place, then you may have to choose another print because there are reasons why patterns work. In the feature picture, the designer used the same color palette of the solid fabric. Intentional vertical stripes that overlay the floral print complete the space pulling visual elements from every piece around it.
One Color Unifies the Whole Space
Patterns have a better chance of working if you stay in the same family of colors. Use one unifying color to pull the whole space together. Viewers will see the space as a whole if assortments of patterns are tied together by the same base color. Colors can vary and still work as long as they are of the same color intensity. Intensity refers to the saturation of the color. True colors are the most intense. Initially, try thinking pastels with pastels and shades with shades.
Patterns as a Visual Marker
If you have a space that is weighted heavily with furniture on one side, a pattern can be used to balance the room visually by using it on the opposite side. Bold prints are visual markers and anchors that can be used to draw attention to where you need it. On the other hand, you can also use a pattern in such a way that it will cause your eye to visually dance around the room. This is a typical application in most of our waiting rooms.
Apply the 30-60-10 rule
When in doubt as to how much of the pattern to use, try applying the 30-60-10 rule to your design. Use 30% of a solid color, 60% neutral color and only 10% of the pattern. This very traditional rule will help your space withstand the test of time and is helpful in all practical applications of design.
The size of the repeated pattern also matters and should be in proportion to its application. Larger patterns are associated with things like wallpapers or larger stated pieces of furniture where as small print sizes are used on throw pillows and cushions. Larger prints behind neutrals add visual interest and small prints have a tendency to move the viewer’s eye around the room.
Deciding on the Pattern Type
Unlike color, there rarely is no associated meaning behind patterns. Deciding on a pattern type then is left to you to choose. Florals tend to be more attractive to women than men. On the other hand, men seem to be more drawn to geometric shapes than do women. Stripes are a happy medium and therefore a secret weapon to designers. As you can see in the “Florals” picture above, the designer added a striped cushion on the back of the bariatrics chair on the left and a striped zigzag on the back of the bariatrics chair on the right. In the “Shapes” picture below, the geometric patterns are placed in rows making the print appear striped. Stripes imply more meaning than any other pattern available. If they lay horizontal, they are calm whereas, the vertical stripe implies the meaning of strength.
Remember, these are not strict rules- just guidelines to get you started in the right direction. Choose unifying colors, design with patterns in odd numbers, use prints as visual markers, keep them in proportion, stripes are you best friend and apply the 30-60-10 rule in the way we discussed. If you still are apprehensive and want to consider patterns in your design, visit us at our shop and one of our designers will introduce you to our print selection and get you headed in the right direction.