Spring Into Pattern by Katherine Sorrell

Sweetly pretty or boldly dramatic, pattern can transform any room.

From simple geometrics to the catwalk-inspired ‘matchy matchy’ look of all-over pattern, eye-catching patterns seem to be everywhere at the moment.

Including pattern brings character to a home, but it may not seem easy to do. Get inspiration from the form of something you own, such as a painting, vase or throw, or from images in magazines, books and websites. Then think about your pattern partiality. Simple, graphic motifs in muted colours, or naturalistic designs in vivid shades? Large scale or small? Historical prints or modern? Patterns are also subtly present, such as in the weave of fabric or basketry or the grain of timber and should not be overlooked. Consider where pattern is appropriate: as a subtle element within a room, such as a small blind or a cushion cover; or all-out, from walls and floor to fabrics and accessories. In bigger rooms, use very large-scale patterns for impact, while medium or small scale patterns are generally better in smaller rooms – though filling a tiny room (e.g. a WC) with a giant pattern can make a feature of it.

Start simple, with just a dash of a single pattern, if you are worried about mixing patterns. When combining two or more patterns, the professional pattern books from fabric and wallpaper manufacturers can help to see which patterns work together. To introduce greater variety, create a mood board using swatches of fabrics, wallpapers and paint, and cut-out images of furnishings. Place the dominant pattern first – perhaps the brightest or the one with the largest scale – and add others from there. Swap items in and out, or change their proportions, until it looks right.

For patterns that co-ordinate, complementary colours are key. Lighter and darker versions of the same hue work well together and provide a pleasing variety. A variety of scales also adds interest and impact. Remember that very small scale patterns are only really noticeable close up, so are a subtle scheme element. Next: density. Loose, open patterns give a visual ‘breather’, while intricate patterns with closely placed designs have more drama. A variety of densities gives balance and interest. And finally: design. Abstract, figurative, retro, traditional, modern – there’s something for everyone, and a coherent mix of patterns will make a room seem like it has evolved naturally over time.