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How To Layer Patterns (In Your Home & With Your Outfits)

Updated: Jan 24, 2020

Have you ever wondered if there is a secret formula to give you amazing outfits, or a room that is awe-inspiring? Like a cookbook for how to decorate, you know, a cup of this, and a tablespoon of that?! Well I may not have that, but I have the next best thing! Layering patterns! Good layering is a tool that will instantly step up your decorating and outfits game. And I have an easy equation for how to mix patterns so they hit the sweet spot of eclectic & exciting and yet still united & cohesive.

1. Create a color palette.

This is what will unite either your outfit, home, dining table, sofa, or even wrapping paper under the tree. There are several ways to go about this, but for simplicity sake, decide between a monochromatic color scheme or a palette.

A monochromatic color scheme just means that you use one color and then different shades of that same color. For example, you could choose whites, nudes, and creams. Or even, emerald green and then forest green to accompany it.

If you want to use a full color scheme then decide on 1 main color and then 1 to 3 different colors as your accent. My Pinterest board is designated solely to colors if you need some color inspiration!

2. Mix different scales of patterns.

Make sure to have an ensemble of large, medium, and small print fabrics. By doing this you create more differentiation between each item. This means that it is easier to see each item as it's own unique piece... instead of just a blob.

3. Mix different types of patterns.

Patterns can be categorized as three different types, which are geometric, organic, and non-repeating. Geometric are stripes, plaid, chevron, houndstooth. Organic are florals, paisley, feathers, palms. These are items that have a softness to them and are usually associated with Nature. And non-repeating patterns are prints. They may be a saying or word like "Our Nest", or an animal, maybe something scenic like the ocean. Mixing different types of patterns does three things. It creates differentiation between each item like Step 2, but also makes the patterns not compete with each other and, lastly, it balances harsh lines with the softness of nature.

Why These Work

Similar to art, pattern mixing needs to have the 5 principles present (unity & variety, emphasis, scale & proportion, balance, and repetition & rhythm). If you have never heard about the Principles of Design then you may want to do a quick read up here. These principles are the backbone of good design, whether that be graphic design, interior design, painting, fashion, photography-- the list goes on and on! Anything that is visually pleasing, probably has a strong presence of all 5 principles.

A cohesive color scheme should be the foundation of any good pattern mixing, while using patterns of different scales and of different types of patterns builds up and creates dimension. The combination of these tips is the simplest way to get a cohesive look without it seeming like you purchased them altogether as a set.

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