Ask Jigs | Using Patterns and Prints

Hello, Jigs,

I’m getting a bit bored with our flat-colored rooms. The modern and neutral colors were classy and simple once, but I’m feeling it’s time for a change. I’m not sure where to start though. I like some patterns, but I’m unsure how they will work with our interiors. What’s your advice in using patterns and textures at home?

– Rhonda Jarambe, Caloocan City

Hi, Rhonda. Patterns and prints can be daunting to a novice home designer. A lot of people tend to rely on single colors or no-fail designs. One wrong match and your entire room suddenly bleeds tack and kitsch. But I admire your adventurous spirit! Designers and artists don’t gain fame from just following the rules. Let’s get risky.

  1. Layer. Mixing colors and textures comes naturally to any designer worth his salt. Layering patterns however, is a bit more complex. To ease into things, start with colors. Take your swatches and lay your preferred colors on the floor. Some of them will work well with other patterns. Some won’t. Eliminate the hot messes and start from the top.
  2. Highlight. Put a bold pattern over a plain background to highlight the pattern’s design. If you want to try putting patterns over patterns, take the size into consideration. Large patterns work best with smaller ones. You can add a third—a midsized one—if you’re feeling confident.
  3. Accent. Before you start buying that incredibly intricate, baroque-gypsy-fusion wallpaper, take a step back and splash bold patterns onto some chairs or throw pillows first. Contrast works best in sparing amounts. Nothing is more refreshing that seeing a striking pattern on a quirky ottoman.
  4. Contrast. Take stock of your furniture and decor. Plain, functional furniture are more amenable to blending with courageous patterns. A chevron or houndstooth accent wall will harmoniously blend with staid, modern furniture. A Turkish-style rug surrounded by neutral furniture will, as the Big Lebowski says, “really pull the room together.”