It's no mystery I love me a good mix up. Well, not in the real world because that's just annoying, but in fabric patterns. The look of different patterns together when properly combined is beautiful, HOT, interesting, to say the least. After getting myself a whole load of fabric samples (and I do mean a WHOLE load) I began experimenting and layering them to see what sort of effect was created.
Way before that though, I had to tackle the organization of these fabrics so I decided to color code them because I am a visual person and when creating a design I like to have a color palette in mind, so for now color coding makes the most sense. Whenever I need a gray fabric, I'll just go to the "gray fabrics" pile. Easy! This method might change in the future, though.
For each mix of patterns created, I noticed they presented a different mood and vibe which I loved. Amid this little exercise, I concluded "hey, you can mix unexpected patterns together and make them look like a real, non-dysfunctional family...that's petty cool!". I also proved over and over that there is an actual "key trick" to getting the perfect combo between the patterns because all of the ones I created seemed to have the same components.
"Large Scale Print, Contrasting Scale Print, Movement, & Texture"
Large Scale Print:
The pattern on this fabric will usually take up the majority of the space, while being large in size. The repeat of the pattern will also usually be at a minimum because the pattern is just so large (this is specially true for pillows, where you will see the repeat of a pattern maybe twice or three times, since the pillow may be too small to accommodate many more repeats).
Contrasting Scale Print with Geometric Pattern:
This print has a geometric pattern that feels structured and rigid. Think lines, grids, and of course geometric figures that may or may not be molded into random looking, but cool shapes. This print should also be a completely different scale than your large scale print so that when placed together the eye can differentiate the two quite instantly.
To contrast with the size of the large scale print and the rigidness of the geometric print, add a pattern with movement that flows and feels organic. Patterns that look abstract are some great examples of this and usually morph the colors together seamlessly. Watercolor art reminds me of this sort of pattern.
Think of this fabric as the 'icing on the cake' or the 'cherry on top' to your combo. It will literally transform it with the depth it creates and simply by not being 'flat' like the rest of the patterns/prints used. My favorite is definitely velvet not only for its softness but because it just gives anything a level of luxury (this would also be a great opportunity to introduce a solid fabric into your scheme). Other options include, metallics, faux furs, lace (yes, haven't seen this one being used a lot but I love it), knits (for those cozier schemes), embroideries, and much more.
Is too, uber, mega important when mixing patterns. I'd say to clearly stick within your color palette but don't be afraid to introduce a random color here or there for some added interest. The key here is to stay within the same color saturation for all of your patterns/prints. For example: (and only using this one so that you may get the point) if one of your patterns is in a neon, very bold and saturated shade of color, then continue this with every other pattern in your scheme so that they can indeed be a part of the same "non - dysfunctional" family. I feel this is the trick to those very cohesive looking colorful pattern schemes we tend to love in pillows and in beds.
PS: Mixing patterns is the reason why I prefer a neutral base for everything: from wall color, to sofas, beds, to a simple european white washed oak floor. This is my go to look so that I could really go crazy with pattern and color through the accessories :D
All fabric comes from: The Shade Store