Mixing patterns is one of the greatest joys, but also one of the latest concerns that people have about ‘ getting it right’. The answer is usually, to relax a bit, because it’s not that difficult when you follow an inspiration, make up a colour board or follow a few basic guidelines ( see other posts – inspired by, working with, and project ideas )
Combining patterns of differing scale and concept is the key to creating not only successful but distinctive textile and furnishings design, and whether the choice is eclectic or minimal -n more on more, one pattern among plains, traditional or contemporary…the combinations are endless.
Pattern is always exciting and constantly regenerative. People love pattern. However much the style gurus try to shoehorn it out in favour of neutrals and textures, black and white or taupe, no matter how we may reject it personally, pattern always seems to bounce straight back. It never really goes out of fashion, as one style morphs into another; when 18thC chintz is out, fifties prints are in – right now, say Orla Kiely or Cath Kidston. Or both.
There is something basically and essentially comforting about pattern, particularly printed pattern. It may be pure nostalgia but I think from the discussions I’ve had with clients over the years that it’s more than that. We have often re-worked personal ‘vintage’ bedcovers, eiderdowns or curtains that came from grandparents houses or childhood bedrooms and nurseries. I was once told that from a child’s perspective, ‘nothing can go wrong in grannie’s house’–where you’re adored and it is safe, there isn’t the same level of homework, bedtime, and boring ‘time to get up, go to bed discussion – holiday time when the pressure is off.
Being visually distinct, prints that feel familiar, have a deep level of recognition can be triggers, , reminders of a happy past.
So a floral or any other print, might remind you of something you saw years ago; it’s not that you want to have it, or much of it, but the idea remains, to prompt you at some stage in life. Tapping into such associations is part of creating one’s home design scheme.
Patterns also serve to relieve and lift large areas of plain colours, plaids, checks, short stripes and pinstripes, all of which look really great with quite contrasting pattern. Pattern for a small piece of furniture such as a stool, screen or box, whether it’s a small flower bud or a large all over paisley design, tropical fruits or a trellis border can be enough to change the level of formality in the room…whatever you feel comfortable with always comes from your own life experience – magazine articles can only suggest what’s possible, new, in fashion, for you to select or reject….