Decorating & Design - Design Lesson

Design lesson: Playing with pattern

How to use pattern in a small space without being overwhelmed.

Drapery, cushions, upholstery and bedding -- we surround ourselves with fabric. It's how we soften the hard edges of the world. Although the textures and patterns you choose depend on personal taste, awareness of their impact allows you to make selections that will contribute to overall harmony. That's especially important in small spaces, where an abundance of pattern contributes to visual clutter. So, consider these strategies for incorporating pattern into your home.

How to choose pattern
Living room
To allow for visual breathing room, it's best to use simple designs and combine them with solid fabrics. Robust patterns can be distracting, shifting attention from focal points, and creating a confusing backdrop for works of art.

Dining room
Frequently more dramatic than other public rooms, this room is used mostly in the evening. For that reason, it's perfectly warranted to choose bolder patterns. In addition, patterned upholstery and carpets are highly practical.

In the kitchen, where most of the available wall space is devoted to cabinetry, pattern can be a welcome relief. A pictorial wallpaper or scenic drapery fabric can create interest and set the tone for other decorating in the room.

The pattern you pick is dictated by the mood you want to create. If the bedroom is used only at nighttime, consider a minimum of pattern in a restful palette. For those who use the room during the day, a more adventurous mix of pattern may appeal.

Powder room
The powder room provides a real opportunity to enjoy high-impact pattern, as it's a transitional space used for short periods of time. Choose a scenic or geometric design, classic floral or large abstract pattern, and use it abundantly.


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