How To Mix Pattern & Color Like A Textile Designer
Decorating with pattern can be mystifying. How do you pair stripes with florals? At what point does a mix of patterns go from quirky to eyesore? As a successful textile designer and artist, Rebecca Atwood has all the answers. Her signature designs are easy-to-layer patterns with a whimsical, handcrafted quality, and have spawned an empire of homewares and most recently a book. Living With Pattern: Color, Texture, And Print At Home is a step-by-step, room-by-room guide to embracing pattern. Here 12 tips from the book.
Here we see a snapshot of Rebecca’s workspace and a typical mood board set-up, which she does with every new project or collection. Already you get a sense that pattern is everywhere for her!
When creating a palette for a room or project, Rebecca says to begin with a neutral base — be it dark blues and greys or warm taupes, and then build off that. With this palette, she added intensity with the warm aubergine, copper rust and seashell pink. Layers of bolder colors — not necessarily all the same hue or tone — gives it complexity.
To keep things from clashing or from being too matchy-matchy, Rebecca advises using patterns and prints in different scales, geometric families and personalities. Pair more traditional designs like the floral embroidery (bottom left) and Hmong design (bottom center) with an abstract print like the one found on the bowl.
In this South Carolina beach home, the patterns in the rugs and stair runner create a consistency and unify different spaces. The cool blues create a focal point and draw you into the house.
In this living room, a pink chair has pride of place. It’s actually covered in a small feather print and the owner, Harper Poe, of the ethically-sourced textile brand Proud Mary, had thought about recovering it many times as it’s not her style. But the chair belonged to her mother, and once she layered it with blankets which were much more her taste, the chair was no longer a design outlier.
In this living room, designer Brian Paquette chose stripes as the unifying motif. The blinds are the most obvious source of pattern in the room, but then your eye is drawn to the sofa, then the coffee table, then the legs of the side table. All the elements work together to create a cohesive look.
“Creating balance within a dining space is all about making one that can serve the everyday as well as the special occasion,” says Rebecca. This Brooklyn brownstone eat-in kitchen has special touches that are also practical; the black and white tile floor is an investment, but easy to clean, and the same goes for the washable seat cushions.
When setting the table, Rebecca advocates using any china available, especially the good stuff — otherwise, “Why have it?” she says. To keep it from feeling formal, she says to temper it with some more casual pieces and modern patterns. The result is elegant but easy.
“While you may want to go neutral with a master bathroom, a powder room is the perfect place to go bold,” says Rebecca. Here nature is embraced with plenty of plants and corals, while the organic pattern on the wall brings a fresh energy to the loo.
The bold ocher-colored pattern on the armchair might seem too quirky against the green walls for some, but the floral pattern adds some life to the color-blocked display corner, and makes for a totally unique design moment.
In rooms of the home where guests and visitors are being entertained, a subdued aesthetic that’s universal is always appreciated. In this artist’s home, the pink cushions on the bed play off the cool yellow tones of the artwork and act as the only bright spot in the otherwise neutral room.
Though many are drawn to crisp white bedding, Rebecca suggests incorporating pattern. “Breaking up bedding sets and mixing your patterns is one of the easiest ways to create a custom look. Since the patterns are typically such a small scale, they read as texture from a distance,” she says.
And of course, even the cover of Rebecca’s book is patterned! Find it here.