How To Pattern Mix Like A Pro

I feel like this blog post is long overdue. If you’ve been around this blog for any length of time then you know I’ve got a throw pillow problem collection. I love using a fairly neutral palette with my furniture and then changing out my throw pillows whenever I get the urge. I’ve been talking and talking about my love for pillows, how I style throw pillows, where to buy them, and even how I change them out seasonally. It’s about time I shared with you: my strategy for mixing different fabrics to create a layered and cozy look.

pattern-mixing-cheatsheetI totally understand how overwhelming it can be to put together a few throw pillows of different patterns. Have you ever walked into Home Goods and just been completely overwhelmed by the pillow options? Or have you browsed around for some fabric to make your own? And just given up because the choices were just too many? I’ve been there for sure. Picking patterns/fabrics can be really challenging. Having a guideline to follow is so helpful and gives you a good starting point to help you achieve the perfect pattern mix. Today I want to share with you, my simple no fail pattern mixing formula as a pattern mixing 101. Let’s dive in!

Mix Don’t Match

In decorating, you always want to mix not match patterns. When considering different patterns make sure they compliment each other instead of matching directly. Avoid multiple patterns in the exact same color.

Pick Three

In decorating, odd numbers seem to work best. Selecting three different patterns is the sweet spot, especially in throw pillows. Picking three fabrics/patterns out of thousands can seem impossible but it’s not with these next few steps.

Choose A Show Stopper

First, pick one dominant pattern. I should be a strong pattern, I call it a show-stopper. Something with color or something that makes a large statement. That can be a floral pattern, something whimsical like a printed pillow with words or some other print. My show-stopper pattern is typically an inspirational piece, something that I’m using as inspiration for the entire space.

Select Scale

Next, I select something with scale – either large or small. You’ll want to pick a pattern with some scale in a color (one color only) that compliments your dominant selection. The scale should be opposite the dominant pattern so if you select a large scale floral, consider a small-scale geometric pattern for the next selection. You want to mix not match.

Add A Neutral

Lastly, add in a neutral or solid to tie it all together. Again, select a color that is present in your dominant pattern. A neutral/solid would include a solid color, a stripe of some sort, or a check print (like the buffalo check shown above). This is where you can add some texture if you’d like. Adding in a velvet or a linen is a great way to add an element of warmth to your mix.


What patterns do you love using in your home?

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  1. I completely agree with you! I was just trying to pick out pillows for the ORC and I followed your formula! Congrats on the ebook!

  2. What a lovely and helpful website. Thank you. You are very talented. I wanted to know why checks and stripes are considered neutrals. What are the patterns that are considered neutrals? (I never thought of a pattern as being a neutral before. Having a hard time understanding the concept.)

    1. Hi Erin, I consider a neutral something that’s unoffensive to the other patterns. So it’s not necessarily neutral in color it is merely a pattern, texture, color that plays nicely with the other two patterns. In general, those would be a stripe, a solid color textured fabric like linen or velvet, or another geometric print that has an opposite scale of the one you already selected. I hope that’s helpful. “Neutral” probably isn’t the right word for it but something that plays nicely with others 🙂