We hope you’ve had a chance to join us for our first two posts in this pattern-mixing series, on pairing patterned rugs and mixing patterns in pillows and throws. Today Annie’s back with the mother of all how-to-mix-patterns topics: bedding.
Our beds are often one of the largest decorating surfaces in our homes, so learning to mix patterns here can lead to a spectacular room design. And with so much great bedding to choose from these days, you’ll have no problem finding friends for that antique quilt from Grandma, the amazing hand-knit throw you picked up on your trip to Europe, or those had-to-have them graphic pillows you found at the thrift shop. For the best mix of patterns on the bed, follow Annie’s easy rules
1. Start with one focal piece. This is usually a larger item, such as a duvet or quilt—for instance, this kantha-inspired quilt —but can also be something smaller but still beautiful, like a uniquely patterned throw. Make this item the star, or, Annie says, “honor the story and find the supporting cast.”
2. Count to three (or four). Though some designers and decorators are certified pattern-pairing geniuses (Kaffe Fassett comes to mind), and the results of multiple-pattern mixing can have major wow factor, it’s generally safer to aim for a maximum of four patterns on a bed, or three if you’re at all unsure about any of your choices.
3. Consider a multicolor focal piece. If your focal pattern is full of color, you’ll be able to mix it with a host of other patterns and colors. However, you’ll want to resist the urge to use every color in a multicolor palette; this can quickly tip the balance from sophisticated to circus. Instead, look for two-tone partner patterns featuring either: a) two colors from the main palette or b) one color from the main palette and a neutral.
For this bed, Annie started with that gorgeous paisley throw, in shades of pink, vermillion, turquoise, grass, lavender, and tangerine. She added a turquoise coverlet in a neutral check pattern, plus a bright, happy pillow in saturated blue and green. (Note the solid pillows . . . and scroll down to number 6 for more.)
4. Stripes go with everything! Even better, stripes never go out of style, and there are tons—from two-tone and three-tone to multihued—to choose from. Just be aware of the weight of the stripe you’re using against your focal pattern—so lighter or more delicate stripes should be paired with larger patterns, and heavier, wider stripes work better with smaller patterns. This difference in weight will keep the eye from going into pattern overload. Notice how the heavier weight of the striped linen duvet is offset by the more delicate lines of the paisley pattern in the cotton sheets in this example.
5. Scale it down. If your dominant print is large, pair it with smaller secondary and tertiary patterns, and vice versa. The ideal difference in scale between your main pattern and additional patterns is 50 percent, as in this layered-neutral bed. In this example, the graphic impact of the reversible quilt gets the soft touch from the smaller, organic shapes on the printed sheets. And the straight lines of the quilt are echoed in the slim, triple-striped shams. And then there’s that solid pillow again, which leads us to . . .
6. Don’t forget the solids. Interspersing prints with solids is one of the keys to mixing patterns in a room; not only does this break up the pattern-palooza, but it also helps to make those patterns stand—like these two painterly prints —stand out against a “blank canvas.”
What’s your biggest challenge when mixing patterns in the bedroom?