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Interior Design - Combining / Mixing Patterns and Choosing Paint Colors for Your Room

Updated on August 21, 2011
Lily Rose profile image

In my next life, I want to be an interior designer. I love decorating and home decor, taking on projects, and helping others do the same.

Using Pattern in a Room

Mixing patterns is as easy as one, two, three.  If you are inexperienced, it’s always best to stick with three basic prints in your room.  Use a large-scale pattern on big pieces, like sofas.  Medium patterns work well on chairs and ottomans, and smaller prints work best on pillows and other small items.  There should always be a common denominator color amongst all three prints.  If your room’s main colors are blue and yellow, make sure that shades of those colors are incorporated in the prints that you select.

If you just don’t feel comfortable enough to choose different coordinating fabrics, take advantage of the color collections that you can find in most fabric stores these days.  Manufacturers of fabrics have made it very easy for the non-professional interior decorator so you can’t go wrong selecting a premixed collection of fabrics. 

example of a room with a great mix of patterns
example of a room with a great mix of patterns
an example of pre-matched fabric patterns
an example of pre-matched fabric patterns

Balancing Patterns

Selecting your three patterns is only the first step.  The next step is deciding how they will be used in your room.  Balance is the key and it can easily be attained using the following guidelines.  It’s best to use each pattern three times – once in a major way, again on something smaller, than as an accent somewhere.  A good example would be to use your large pattern first on a sofa, then on a table skirt, and again on a decorative pillow.  Use this guideline for all three of your patterned fabrics and you’ll soon master the technique. 

Tip For Selecting Wall Color:

Many people settle for selecting a paint color from a small paint chip that’s usually no more than an inch wide, and more often than not the results are disappointing.  The simple solution is to narrow down your color selection to two or three colors, then go and buy a small amount of each color – it’s worth the slightly extra expense.  Then get some foam core board, about two-foot square for each color selected and paint each foam core piece one of the colors.  Prop up the dried samples against one of the walls in your room and study them at different times of the day because they will look different in different light; also move them from wall to wall because the light can affect them differently on different walls.  It is always best to do this so that you do not regret your color choice two months or more down the road. 

paint samples on the wall
paint samples on the wall
feel free to paint the samples directly on the wall - better if your wall is currently white
feel free to paint the samples directly on the wall - better if your wall is currently white
those tiny paint chips come in more handy for creating art than for selecting you wall colors!
those tiny paint chips come in more handy for creating art than for selecting you wall colors!

Changing with the Seasons

Do you enjoy changing things up for the change of seasons?  Here are some quick changes that you can do in your room to bring the change of seasons indoors:

If you normally have drapes and sheers on your windows, remove the drapes and stick with just the sheers for the warm summer months.  If you have dark, floral curtains, replace them with curtains that have a lighter print.  You can apply this same concept to table linens, table skirts, and throw pillows, too. 

What Kind of Paint Do I Choose?

That is a question often asked at home improvement stores.  The options can be very confusing when it comes time to choose the type of paint for your room.  One choice is oil-based paint, but it should be left to the professionals.  If you don’t have much painting experience, stick with latex paints which are water-based, if not for the only reason being that it cleans up more easily.

Within the category of latex paint, you still have several choices – flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and high gloss are the standard selections.  These finishes range from matte (flat) to shiny (gloss).  The washability also ranges – a flat finish is very hard to clean because it’ll come off when scrubbed.  Eggshell is the most popular choice for walls; semi-gloss for moldings and trim; both can relatively easily be wiped clean of marks and fingerprints. 


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    • Medicadavline profile image

      Medica Ery Davline 3 years ago from United States

      Hai Lily.. it's very useful article. Many people get confused while they choosing which color for their room. Your article really helpful!

    • PiaC profile image

      PiaC 6 years ago from Oakland, CA

      I love the idea of using different patterns in the same room! Thanks for such great tips!

    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 7 years ago from East Coast

      Thank you for the kind words. That's exactly my intent - to provide helpful tips to simplify the process for anyone!

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 7 years ago from Arizona

      Wonderful article! Very intimidating for most people. You helped simplify and take the mystery out of the process!

    • profile image

      kimboy9-9 7 years ago

      Great idea for coloring

    • lea86 profile image

      lea86 7 years ago

      Very useful article and I would like to acknowledge it for the idea to my future house.Thanks

    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 7 years ago from East Coast

      Thank you! I'm always happy to hear that something I wrote helps someone.

    • Kim Lynn profile image

      Kim Lynn 7 years ago

      I found the information on combining prints useful. Thanks!

    • giwrgos12 profile image

      giwrgos12 7 years ago from San Diego

      Excellent Job!!!

    • ericosiu profile image

      ericosiu 7 years ago

      this is going to be incredibly helpful for decorating my rooms! thanks! hope you can check out my hub on interior design too!

    • profile image

      Damilola Odule 7 years ago

      thanks for every bit of info you kept on this site

      so beautiful so useful

    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 7 years ago from East Coast

      Thanks for the comment, Iris! Yes, I have a bunch more - please feel free to peruse them all!

    • Iris Lebow profile image

      Iris Lebow 7 years ago

      Thanks for the info. Always looking for hubs having to do with color and interior design. Looks like you have a few more.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Very good idea to paint various colours on the wall.

    • profile image

      Sarah 7 years ago

      Love this article. So useful !