Mixing Colors and Patterns - Why Do These Rooms Work?

Posted In Design - 12/31/2016

Interior designers mix patterns and colors to create dynamic, vibrant rooms.  But the concept can be intimidating to the novice home decorator.  Here we take a look at a few designer rooms and explore what makes them work.

Room 1 – Saturated Complementary

The pairing of this sage green rug is an unexpected choice with the cardinal red sofa. 

First, consider that red and green are complementary colors falling directly across from each other on the color wheel.  However, while the red on the sofa is fairly saturated, the green of the rug is less so, creating a soft and easy palate that feels like a neutral and doesn’t compete with the red.

By accenting the sofa with the ikat patterned pillows that incorporate both red and green and adorning the room with a smattering of green items, the room becomes a cohesive mix.  Notice, the pillows have a free-form global feel while the rug has a distinctive geometric pattern.  Because these patterns are so different, yet contain similar greens they work well together.

Finish the room with some deep browns, in the lamps, and tables.  These pick up on the brown in the pillows, as well as the feet of the furniture. Notice, all of the greens and the browns are not precisely the same color, and they shouldn’t be.  Rather than being “matchy-matchy” you end up with a deep, rich, natural combination of similar hues.  Add different materials for textural interest, here we see vintage luggage, glass vases and a loosely woven basket.  The end effect is richer and more sophisticated when varied hues and textures are added.

All together you have a room that is cohesive without being one-note.

Room 2 – Bold Primary

In this room, it is easy to see why the blue and brown rug works so nicely with the soft blue of the sectional. The curtain ties into the same palate as well.  But imagine it all without the yellow, you would have a solid blue sofa, the tribal flair of the ikat rug and a softened zig-zag stripe on the curtain.  Even though there are different patterns present, it would have a very homogeneous feel -- there would definitely be something missing.

Bring in a squeeze of lemon yellow to brighten up this warm space and now you have a spark of interest.  Accent pillows and chair with a bold geometric zig-zag to contrast the timeless print on the rug.  Add a few objects of interest in the color palates, and you’ve pulled together what might seem like disparate looks.

And as always, adding some interesting textures add depth and dimension to the room.

Room 3 – Soft Neutral

Neutral rooms never have to be boring!  This room starts with a neutral linen-look sofa set and adds an undefined modern abstract blend of soft colors underfoot.  The rug incorporates soft blues and peaches along with the beige. 

Don’t be afraid to go a little bolder with the color palette on accents.  The pillows have a leafy pattern in soft colors, but slightly bolder than the foundation pieces.  Add in a bundle of apricot flowers, a nubby aqua throw, a 3-dimensional geometric wall detail and a bit of sparkle on the table lamps – now you’ve built in interest without overwhelming the eye in this muted, refined space. 

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