Tips For Designing Interior Spaces with Patterns

Many people truly struggle with selecting and combining patterns in their interior design projects. Spaces that lack patterns or pattern variations are considered boring and uninteresting. But selecting patterns or combining them incorrectly can create a space that feels awkward, busy, and even stressful.

There are a few rules to live by when adding patterns to interior spaces. First, when using multiple patterns, make sure they have different scales. In other words, patterns that might normally clash can work well together if they have different scale, or pattern sizing. For example, a bold and stark pattern with large features may work well with a busy floral pattern, assuming the floral pattern is small in comparison to the other pattern.

Also, 3 seems to be the magic number when combining patterns. Three patterns in one space creates a space that is interesting and complete (assuming the rule of scale from above is applied). More than 3 patterns tends to make any space seem too busy or complex. So stick with 3 patterns, where one is large and dominant and the others are smaller in scale.

In pattern choice, it’s important to take color into account as well. Some colors simply do not go well together. But others are relatively easy to work with. For instance, a room with the main design colors of white and black are easy to add other colors and patterns to. Bold colors in moderation offer accent to any room or any item in a room.

Similarly, neutral colors are great for building a theme, and then using patterns with complimenting colors can make a space more engaging. Somewhat surprisingly, using very different colors can be very effective if the associated patterns are different or have a vastly different scale.

Because texture is essentially a pattern in interior design, it’s important to be careful with the variety of textures in a room. Furniture with smooth wood and even grain, for example, may clash with rough furniture with a busy grain. Although these could be used in the same room, it’s important not to include too many other textures or patterns to avoid overwhelming those in the space.

Max Reinhardt Library in Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg, Austria. Modelled after the St. Gallen’s monastery library in Switzerland.

One tip for those adding more character to any room is to study images online of rooms. Find room images you like and try to understand why the patterns and colors work well together and why you find them pleasing. With a little time and effort, you’ll become a master at creating interesting spaces.