As thoughtfully designed and chosen as every furnishing in a home can be, a fabulous fabric or sensational surface will make it truly striking. So what’s the trick? Simple, really. Mix patterns and textures to create exciting combinations that play off each other, adding pleasing variety and sensuous wit to a room. Start with these basic guidelines, then follow your natural creative instincts.
PICK A STARTING POINT | To put your room together, you can begin anywhere—a fabric, a color, a painting or objet d’art, whatever inspires you—then draw other design ideas from that point. In any communal space, it’s good to begin with the rug, or start with a fabric and design a custom rug around to go with it.
VARY THE SCALE | Strong patterns do go together, just make sure they’re different in scale. Try one small pattern in a monotone, then go much larger in size with more color for another pattern. Notice how the pillow and chair fabrics shown here work together because one dominates and one recedes a bit. Even the rug has two scales going on—large stripes and intricate patterns.
UNIFY WITH COLOR | Find a color you love. Magazines can help you see what’s in style. From there, gauge your reactions to colors, especially how they work together—you’ll know what feels right to you. Remember, too, that surface sheen adds depth to a color. Silk has a two-t one sheen, as do cotton-rayon blends, which are also very soft. This rug, while quite bold, works in this room because the overall colors are cohesive.
USE LIGHT TO ENHANCE SURFACES | A monotone is anything but monotonous if you introduce it in the form of a texture, then place it where it will catch different light sources—say, from a window during the day and a chandelier at night—to reveal its raised surface. A simple white wall, like the tiled one shown here, becomes a constantly changing focal point with a textured covering.
PATTERNS TURN SIMPLE INTO STUNNING | Cover a streamlined chair with an exquisite fabric to make it a standout; a plain shelving unit becomes a conversation piece covered with wallpaper or vinyl. You can also incorporate one standout piece of furniture by painting it to match the room’s background. This trick serves to play up intricate lines while playing down disparate styles, woods, and colors.
SHOW OFF SILHOUETTES | The outline of a piece creates a pattern of its own. Case in point: the tall bookcase, left, with its curated collection. For visual variety, alternate plain-finished items with patterned ones. Large stand-alone pieces also make the most of their innate textures when given a simple treatment: Note how the table’s woodgrain base with lightly washed finish becomes architectural when paired with the blue Parys top by Cambria. And the chandelier dazzles with its combination of curved pattern, organic textrue, and subtle light within its shimmery silhouette.
GET THE LOOK: “Fioravanti” chair fabric from Designers Guild; scherpingwestphal.com. Elton Chair, from $499, West Elm; westelm.com. Reupholstery by Rochford Upholstery Ltd., Minneapolis, MN; (612) 374-2623. LED Light “Nest” Chandelier, The Collection on 5; collection5.com, studiobelvetro.com. “Expedit” Bookcase, $59.99, Ikea, ikea.com. Custom printed vinyl to wrap bookcase, from $1/square foot, Banner Buzz; bannerbuzz.com. Accessories, from top: Ligne Roset bloomingbless vase, $520, Walsh Design Group; id-insidedesign.com. Blue Ceramic Pitcher, Patina Stores, $38, patinastores.com. Painted flecked ceramic vase, $42, Canister $32, Patina Stores. “Pacific Vases,” glass, $19-$39, West Elm. White snake-embossed leather boxes, $95, Patina Stores. Pillows, from left: “Agate” 18”-square silk pillow cover, $34, West Elm. Missoni silk pillows, $160 each, Walsh Design Group. Hair on Hide Storage Box, $149-$199, Restoration Hardware, restorationhardware.com. Cadiz Rug, $12-$59, West Elm. Luna Wall Flats wall tiles, $86/22.5 sq. ft. (10 tiles), Inhabit; inhabitliving.com.