Mixing Fabrics …Both Pattern and Texture

“There are no hard, fast rules to mixing fabrics.”

Home decorating is a very individual matter. One set of rules can’t apply to everyone. Especially when comes to choosing from all the fabulous fabrics on the market.

However…there are “guidelines” that make things progress more smoothly. Two in particular make mixing fabrics easier to accomplish…scale and balance.

For a room to be visually and emotionally appealing,
it needs a variation in pattern size and placement.

Decorator Tip

Before selecting your fabrics, take into consideration the size of the room.

Keep in mind cool colors (blue, green and purple) recede, making a room seem larger. Warm colors (red, yellow and orange) advance, giving the feeling the room is smaller.

Three of four large patterns in a room will be overwhelming and distracting. You won’t know where to look and the room may feel like it is closing in on you, particularly if it’s a small room.

Use too many small patterns in a large room and they all loose their significance…and you could become dizzy!

Varying the size, or scale, of your patterns is an easy way to achieve an appealing décor. Think large, medium and small.

Decorators can easily combine several correlate floral patterns with stripes, plaids, checks mini-prints and solids. The result is a pleasing mix of five or six different patterns. This takes a little practice.

For our illustration, three patterns and a solid will be selected. You’re
re-decorating a large family room. All the furniture in the room is to be replaced. You are custom ordering a sofa, a chair and ottoman, a recliner, a bench with an upholstered seat… and having window treatments made.

This means you need to select fabric for all these items.

Don’t think this has to be accomplished in one trip!

Buying upholstered furniture is too big an investment to rush through. Think of all the time you spend in your home. In all likelihood, you will be living with these pieces for many years.

Mixing fabrics may take a little longer than buying off the floor. Make sure you allow the time to make a decision you are excited about.

Even if you think you know what you want, it’s unlikely you’ll make quick decisions when you are surrounded by dozens of fantastic fabrics.

Let’s assume when you selected the pieces of furniture, you found your “must have” fabric…your inspiration piece. It’s a large scale floral in warm, slightly muted colors.

With your inspiration fabric in hand, pull fabrics you feel will work well with it. Include stripes, plaids, checks, mini-prints and solids.
Remember to vary the size of the prints.

Keep an open mind. Even if you think you don’t like plaids, pull a few to see how they blend with the floral. Select a few colors you usually don’t consider.

When you have finished making your selections, walk away for a while. When you return, eliminate the fabrics that don’t reach out to you. You will soon find several fabrics that you continually return to. These fabrics make you feel good. You know you want them in your home.

Before deciding which piece of furniture to put each fabric on, take a final look. When mixing fabric patterns ask…

  • do they vary in pattern scale?
  • are the textures compatible?
  • do the colors work well together?
  • do you love the fabrics together?

You decide to put the floral on the over-stuffed sofa. You have chosen a medium-size check to upholster the chair and ottoman and soft leather for the recliner.

The final fabric you have chosen is a small print. (Decorators refer to these as “mini” or “ditzy” prints.) This fabric will be perfect for the floor length, tab-top curtains you have decided to use on the four windows.

When mixing fabric patterns, you need to have balance. One way to insure balance is to spread the fabrics around the room. Make several throw pillows of the floral and put them on the check chair. Several check pillows will look at home on the sofa. The small print can cover the bench seat and make large floor pillows. Balance will further be enhanced if the fabrics are similar in weight and formality.

The fabrics now draw your eye around the room.

Remember…when mixing fabrics think large, medium and small patterns.

Use each fabric in more than one place.

With a little practice, you will be mixing fabrics without even thinking about it.

Some furniture stores offer a free design consultation if you are purchasing several items from them. The design consultant will ask questions that will help her select fabrics that will work with your color scheme and be appropriate for the function of the room. You can make your final selections from the fabrics she has chosen. It’s a great way to accomplish your goal without a lot spending a lot of time and effort chasing down fabrics.






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