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How to Mix Fabrics For A Custom Look in Home Décor in 5 Easy Steps

Updated on November 05, 2014
chezchazz profile image

Chazz is an Interior Decorator/Consultant/Retailer, amateur photographer, cook, gardener, handyman, currently restoring an 1880 Victorian.

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5 Easy Decorator's Tips for Mixing Fabrics with Different Colors, Patterns & Textures

We've put together five easy-to-follow guidelines and lots of pictures to make it easy for you to achieve an expertly put-together room that expresses your personal style and is worthy of appearing in your favorite decorating magazine.

Many people are good at mixing one pattern with a solid but are afraid of adding more. Yet, adding even one more color, print or pattern can make the difference between a so-so room and one that is interesting, polished, and pulled together.

Those brave enough to venture beyond the two-fabric combo will often rely on retail home décor fabrics printed in the same colors and sold as coordinates. However, these fabrics are usually overly matched and the result is formulaic cookie-cutter decorating that can be boring and leaves little room (pun intended) for individual expression.

You will also find some links to some great (way-below-wholesale and warehouse priced) buys on fabulous to-the-trade only fabrics and wallpapers to get those creative juices flowing and inspire your own unique style of home décor!

1. Inspiration is Primary

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A fabulous designer fabric is often the starting point of a great interior decorating scheme and a room that is welcoming -- that just "feels right."

Begin by choosing a fabric in a pattern or color you love. Names to look for include Brunschwig & Fils, Clarence House, Schumacher, Scalamandré, Stroheim & Romann, Lee Jofa or other premier design houses. Try to find a design or pattern in at least three colors, such as the floral shown here.

This will be your inspirational starting point and the most prominent design element in your room. (If you prefer to use a wallpaper for your interior decor's starting point, just substitute the wallpaper for the primary fabric and choose a fourth coordinate according to the following guidelines.)

2. Choose Coordinates

Neoclassical Interior Design Sample Swatch Board
Neoclassical Interior Design Sample Swatch Board

Once you have your main decorating fabric, select two or more fabrics, each having one or more of the colors in your inspiration fabric. Try to vary the fabrics so that contrast, texture, scale, sheen, and pattern vary.

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• Contrast: Overall color of one fabric should be light, one medium, and one dark.

• Texture: Choose fabrics with different textures, such as a smooth silk and a woven linen.

• Scale: Vary the size of the patterns by including one large, one medium, and one smaller pattern or solid. For example, you might choose a large floral like the one above, a medium size plaid or stripe in coordinating colors, and a small embroidered pattern or a solid in a textured matte linen or cotton to complement the sheen in the chintz.

• Sheen: Mix shiny and matte fabrics.

• Patterns: Mix curvy and linear patterns, such as a floral or a toile and a check or plaid, with a solid. Or choose a third pattern.

Far from Boring Beige Coordinates
Far from Boring Beige Coordinates | Source


Note: Most of these tips will also apply to decorating with a single color scheme.

In fact, following these simple guidelines will add interest and will keep a monotone from becoming monotonous.

3. Experiment to Create Different Looks

Coordinating fabrics for a master bedroom
Coordinating fabrics for a master bedroom | Source

Here we’ve combined our inspiration print with a coordinating silk taffeta for draperies and a bedskirt, an aubusson chenille for the duvet cover (trimmed in a heavy ivory or gold cording) and the small brocade print for a side chair or bench at the foot of the bed. Pillows made from a combination of the fabrics would finish the bedding (trim the main print with a ruffle of the silk taffeta, the small print with a ruffle of the main fabric or the tassel trim from the window treatments, and the aubusson chenille with an ivory or light beige rope cording, and so on.) A tassel trim for the window treatments and elaborate tiebacks would complete the look and tie the colors together. Optional: Long bullion fringe around the side chair or bench.

Here we've combined our inspiration cotton print with tonal and striped damasks. Coordinating fringe completes the look and ties it all together.
Here we've combined our inspiration cotton print with tonal and striped damasks. Coordinating fringe completes the look and ties it all together. | Source

Play around with different swatches until you find a grouping that balances color, scale, and pattern and is pleasing to you. You can do this with actual swatches if available, or you can request jpegs from on-line sellers whose fabrics you are interested in, download them, adjust the size of pictures for scale, and see how they look together on your computer screen.

Another example using the same fabric with a print wallpaper with a beige taffeta and burgundy velvet.
Another example using the same fabric with a print wallpaper with a beige taffeta and burgundy velvet. | Source
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Home decorating should be fun, so play around with different fabrics and be sure to check the swatches with different lighting too. A fabric that looks great in a softly lit room at night, for example, may look garish to you during a sun-flooded afternoon.

Remember, too, that colors will look different depending on what other colors are adjacent to them, so be sure to look at your swatches against wall, floor, and furniture colors.

4. Decide What Goes Where?

Once you have decided on your home decorating fabrics, plan where they will be used. Do not use all of the fabrics in one area of the room. Spread them around to create balance.

For example, if you use your inspiration fabric for draperies in your living room, you might use the same fabric for a couple of throw pillows for the sofa, and possibly as welting or upholstery for a chair. Then your second fabric could be used to upholster the sofa, make a cornice for the window treatments, and as welting or upholstery for another chair, and a square topper to drape over a round table covered in a to-the-floor cloth made from the third fabric, which can also be used as a trim on the window treatments and on a lampshade.

5. Put it All Together

Two Home Décor Fabrics = Two Interior Decorating Looks By Changing the Third Coordinate

Two fabrics in each of the above photos are the same. Just by changing the third coordinate you can create a different look and feeling.
Two fabrics in each of the above photos are the same. Just by changing the third coordinate you can create a different look and feeling.

Don't forget that your walls and floorcoverings are additional areas for color and pattern and be sure to consider them, as well as the style and scale of your furniture, when planning your room. Remember, these are guidelines, not rules, and there are exceptions, including some in the pictures we've included in this lens to inspire you. Have fun!

What a Difference One Fabric Makes

The following question refers to the two photos above.

Which of the above combination of fabrics do you like better? Why?

See results

Which Trim Would You Choose?

Both of these trims coordinate with the two fabrics shown. Which do you prefer?

Which trim would you choose?

See results
Coordinating fabrics with a peaceful, Asian feel
Coordinating fabrics with a peaceful, Asian feel | Source

Some Additional Inspiration

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More Sample Boards: For a Casual Country Look

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Handy Reference for Country Style Pattern Mixing

Country Living Perfect Patterns for Walls, Floors, Fabrics and Furniture
Country Living Perfect Patterns for Walls, Floors, Fabrics and Furniture

Loads of pictures and answers a lot of "does this go with that" questions with an emphasis on country style decor.

 

Variations on a Tuscan Theme

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For a More Urban(e) Look...

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Or a Casual Elegance...

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For 100s More Inspiration Fabrics

Visit Restoration Fabrics & Trims

Specialists in Period Sensitive Decorating at Budget Sensitive Prices

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Like Interior Decorating Tips and/or Old Houses? Want to See More Coordinating Fabric Boards?

We're So Glad You Stopped By!

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    • chezchazz profile image
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      Chazz 3 years ago from New York

      @sdnelson22192: If memory serves me, the toile was a Kravet fabric. It has been out of print for some time. The bottom fabric is Kravet's Strauss (from the Alsace-Lorraine Collection). You can find it here:

      cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=220747523085&refid=store

      Hope that helps.

    • profile image

      sdnelson22192 3 years ago

      What are the fabrics on the top row of the casual elegance board? I love the toile and the coordinating fabrics

    • profile image

      DebMartin 3 years ago

      I love flowers and stripes together. https://hubpages.com/living/how-to-mix-fabrics

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      I enjoyed your presentations here. I don't live with anything this floral and colorful. I prefer neutral, tone on tone décor. I DO lots of pattern mixing and colors in my wardrobe though.

    • profile image

      Aunt-Mollie 4 years ago

      I really love the look of tapestry in some of the fabrics you show here.

    • profile image

      MarcellaCarlton 4 years ago

      Really beautiful fabrics. Most of it reminds me of an English Country House. Lovely.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I have living room furniture that was give to me by many people . I have dark wood light wood and med wood . ? Can I mix them together ? And what would it look like ? If not how do I get the wood the same coler with out having to sand it?

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      I do enjoy mixing fabrics and prints and enjoyed your lessons on this knack for decorating

    • cdevries profile image

      cdevries 4 years ago

      Very interesting to have you explain the rules for matching patterns that I've been doing just seat-of-the-pants... You've pulled together some gorgeous combinations!

    • profile image

      greatgifts4u 4 years ago

      What great ideas - I never would have thought of them myself.

    • mihgasper profile image

      Miha Gasper 4 years ago from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU

      I would never thought about so many colors and patterns at once. I like how daring they look:-)

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 4 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      It looks you really know what you're doing. Lovely combinations!

    • seashell2 profile image

      seashell2 4 years ago

      Love the sample boards, great examples! :-)

    • KateHonebrink profile image

      KateHonebrink 4 years ago

      I absolutely adore all your sample boards! Wonderful colors, textures, patterns and combinations! Stunning!! I am inspired!

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 5 years ago from Australia

      What a fun educational lens on home decorating. I love the urban look.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      where can I access the fabric on the right under casual elegance?

    • chezchazz profile image
      Author

      Chazz 5 years ago from New York

      @anonymous: Hi Linda. It depends which fabric. Many of the fabrics shown in this lens can be found in my website store at http://www.RestorationFabricsAndTrims.com and in our eBay store of the same name, but we also used photos of fabrics that are not listed on line. We have sold out of the toile in the picture you asked about, but have similar toiles and some yardage of the other fabrics in that photo. You can contact me privately if you are interested in ordering fabrics. Thank you for your interest and please let me know if I can be of assistance.

    • profile image

      sherioz 5 years ago

      This is great for giving confidence to play around with colour and design. Thanks so much. I move house in the summer and I will be needing that confidence.

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 5 years ago from So Cal

      OK, I want them all. Great job showing me what goes together.

    • DeannaDiaz profile image

      DeannaDiaz 5 years ago

      Fantastic lens! I feel so inspired to redecorate!

    • BLouw profile image

      Barbara Walton 5 years ago from France

      I love your fabrics and this vintage look. I have bought a French country farmhouse and love that rural look too. The Arts and Crafts movement and Art Nouveau have long been favourites, but best of all I like the people that can put together junk and found objects and make them look like a million dollars.

    • profile image

      KeepsakeIdeas 5 years ago

      Very interesting insights into the way an interior decorating puts coordinating fabrics together.

    • profile image

      RocklawnArts 5 years ago

      Cool lens!

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 5 years ago from Land of Aloha

      Very informative! Our house is so small that I've learned to save my prints for accessories and keep my big ticket items more nuetral. Great lens!

    • profile image

      Helene-Malmsio 5 years ago

      Your lenses are such a feast for my eyes! I used to work in soft furnishings / interior decorating, and have an abiding love for textures and colours in home décor - and the ones in your lenses are utterly delectable !

    • profile image

      JanisDawn 5 years ago

      nicely done i like the examples in the end

    • profile image

      KarenCookieJar 5 years ago

      I'm not very good at mixing patterns, but I love it when I see it done well. Thanks for the tips.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 5 years ago

      Very nice pattern combinations. It really helps amateurs like myself who enjoy home decorating.

    • profile image

      chrispell017 5 years ago

      nice lens!

    • profile image

      mockingbird999 5 years ago

      Looks really good.

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 5 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      really amazing.

    • lollyj lm profile image

      Laurel Johnson 5 years ago from Washington KS

      I'm the world's worst decorator so always enjoy a few new tips.

      Beautiful lens.

    • myraggededge profile image

      myraggededge 5 years ago

      I love how you have presented this information. The pics are so helpful. Featured here: http://www.squidoo.com/top-ten-home-decor

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I'm not very good at mixing fabrics and patterns so I really appreciate all the tips and visuals shown here. Very nice job!

    • chezchazz profile image
      Author

      Chazz 5 years ago from New York

      Thank you all. It is both humbling and exciting to get such wonderful comments from such outstanding lensmasters!

    • LoKackl profile image

      LoKackl 5 years ago

      Down with "cookie cutter decorating"!! -- lensrolled to my humble "boston-celtics-decor"

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      The layout is stunning and your choice of images is terrific, you have an eye to detail. Beautiful selections of fabric.

    • TheLittleCardShop profile image

      Malu Couttolenc 6 years ago

      Fantastic decoration tips and useful information. I happen to be decorating our house and haven't done much since I'm afraid to spend a lot of money without beig really convinced of what colors or fabrics to choose.

    • justholidays profile image

      justholidays 6 years ago

      This is a very interesting page which I save on the computer so that I can come back over and over; I definitely appreciated the tips provided as well as noticed some designs that I like and want to make sure to associate the good ones.

    • pacrapacma lm profile image

      pacrapacma lm 6 years ago

      Nice! You have a way with color. You have inspired me to think about coordinating my bedding and possibly painting my bedroom. I just loved looking at the pictures of mixing fabic on this lens!

    • tiff0315 profile image

      tiff0315 6 years ago

      Visited a few of your lenses and you have some really great advice! You have a real knack for design

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 6 years ago

      This is not easy to put into practice, but the result is fantastic!

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 6 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      Mixing fabrics takes a certain confidence that I don't think I have. Love the images here!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I'm impressed with this article. Very succinct but packed with valuable teaching! Thank you very much! It helps me a lot with my assignment:-)

    • chezchazz profile image
      Author

      Chazz 6 years ago from New York

      @anonymous: Thank you! Glad you found it helpful.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Wow! Finally found understandable and easy to follow tips on coordinating my home - Most others I found were overwhelming or too simplistic. Thank you!

    • chezchazz profile image
      Author

      Chazz 7 years ago from New York

      @renee7: Thank you. Glad you found it useful!

    • renee7 profile image

      renee7 7 years ago

      This is a very well written lens on mixing fabrics and patterns. You have done a really nice job explaining what to look for as you combine patterns and colors. Thanks!

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