Mixing Patterns

Designer Patricia O’ Dell answers a reader’s question about incorporating a mix of patterns into home decor

Q: What advice can you give on mixing patterns? I always talk myself out of trying things because I feel like I don’t know how to approach it.

— Kate Smith

A: The key to mixing patterns is to vary scale. It takes a pretty deft hand to manage two large patterns in a room, though it can certainly be done, but one large pattern for impact usually works well. I used two different plaids in a room with success because the scale of one was very large and the other very small. The same can be said for stripes or floral. As always, laying out samples—even small cuttings—together can give your eye the opportunity to evaluate the balance of the combination.   — Patricia O’Dell

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