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How To Play With Pattern In Your Home

August 7, 2023

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Renovating Faye’s bedroom didn’t come without controversy. Sometimes it blows my mind how one person’s love can be another person’s dislike, and I guess that’s what makes life interesting. And I can never anticipate what projects in our home will rile up the internet, so I don’t even try to. Instead, I focus on designing spaces that are beautiful and charming to me. The hot topic in Faye’s room is patterns – too much, not the right scale, clashing prints, yada, yada. To each their own, but I thought I would turn this into a teaching moment and show you how I’ve played around with patterns in both Faye and Polly’s rooms.

Shop Faye’s Room

In Color School, we briefly talked about the principles of design, like balance, scale & proportion, repetition, and balance. There’s no secret sauce when it comes to mixing patterns, but I keep these in mind with everything I do in my home, including using patterns. One easy rule of thumb is to balance the use of organic and geometric patterns, as well as the scale.

For example, the wallpaper in Faye’s room has these repeating diamond shapes, so I brought in the contrasting organic patterned curtains, and together they’re a lovely juxtaposition.

Curtain Rod | Curtain Rings | Curtain Brackets

Even the bedding has some fun pattern play happening. The embroidered floral quilt has a more sparse pattern, but it’s bold in size and color. And the reversible gingham side is more soft and small in scale.

The rug even has a geometric pattern, but the contrast in colors makes it more subtle and soft, so it doesn’t overwhelm the space.

Polly’s Room

Shop Polly’s Room

While Polly’s room is different, I still abide by a similar rule of thumb of balancing a mix of organic and geometric patterns. Obviously, the wallpaper is a scenic, organic pattern, and to balance it, I laid down a straw/ivory rug that has a subtle grid pattern.

Dresser (vintage) | Green Lamp | Keepsake Box | Open Basket | Woven Hamper | Floral Art

One thing I’ve realized is that using patterns can sometimes be just as scary, if not more scary, than using color in your home. And everybody has different tastes when it comes to mixing patterns! I really like to keep my home feeling interesting and captivating, which is why I take risks when it comes to things like mixing patterns.

Do you have patterns that feel “safe” to you? Any patterns you’re tempted to use more of?

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What do you think?

  1. Villy says:

    I love the picture above the dresser mirror. It’s unexpected, but works so well. It’ keeps it interesting w/o overpowering. Love both the girls rooms!

  2. Liz says:

    The best tutorial on choosing pattern! I learned so much! Your words help give me direction. I love the idea of looking at pattern as either geometric or botanical. I loved that you had real room examples to illustrate the techniques. It was such a helpful post!

  3. Patty says:

    So lovely! I just have to say you are so kind and gracious in your speech and attitude toward others, so hopefully you and your team get a kick out of some of the crazies out there! I wouldn’t even walk into my best friends home and give her my thoughts unless she asked for them!

  4. Cattknap says:

    I love both rooms. I think the pattern mix works and is pleasing to my eye. Both rooms are warm, peaceful and a bit playful. Beautifully layered. Loving the vintage feel.

  5. Carissa says:

    I’m always so surprised at how critical and lecturing some of the comments can be. It’s your home they’re sharing with the world, there’s no harm in being kind.
    I do like the patterns and the rich colors, but if I didn’t, I don’t think I would be out here telling you your taste sucks.

  6. SM says:

    Do you still call this the modern colonial house? I haven’t heard you call it that in a while unless I missed it. Is it because the interior decorating leans more grandmillennial so you don’t want to get boxed in to one particular style?

  7. Jennifer says:

    Thank as always for showing us your process! I love it all. May we the readers be bold and brave, experimenting with our own homes to find what makes us love our spaces, too. I have found that in my mid century California ranch, colorful but plain walls, patterned floors, and floral or striped curtains work well for us. Thanks again, and may I say that I would have loved rooms like those when I was young!

  8. Marcia says:

    I LOVE the end results of your VERY thoughtful and beautiful design! But FAR more important is that you and your family love it. Stay strong and satisfy your creative and practical goals for yourself and your family! I’m always hoping that creative differences will stimulate other’s to be creative, rather than critical.

  9. Trudy Lonegan says:

    Absolutely love your pattern mixing. Rooms with mixed patterns are so much more interesting, beautiful and collected-looking to me. I dislike feeling like everything was bought at the same time to match…no soul. Your rooms are soulful!

  10. Kate says:

    I love the courage that comes with making bold, patterned design choices, and I think it demonstrates that you’re confident in your style. In my earlier years, I stuck with the mainstream white walls and neutral furniture, while letting my less expensive items have the pattern and color. After years of switching it out, you start to find your life long loves, which makes it a lot less scary to transition those choices from $10 pillows to $100 curtains to $1000 wallpaper to $10000 floors. We should celebrate when people find their loves and go all in!

  11. Jean says:

    Obviously both of these rooms follow the cottagecore and grandmillennial trends. I get that a lot of people don’t like those styles (myself included), but these are your rooms and you have to live with them. As long as you like them it doesn’t matter that others think your pattern choices are a little much.

    • Kate says:

      Obviously this comment follows the passive aggressive and gaslighting trends. I get that a lot of people don’t like those styles (myself included, there are so many more respectful ways to offer an opinion), but these are your sentences and you have to live with them. As long as you like them, it doesn’t matter that others think your grammatical choices are a little much.

    • Jill says:

      I love pattern and color the way that you do it julia! I also think back about your style evolution since you’ve been blogging. You hardly used any patterns or color in the beginning! It was all very neutral. BOTH are beautiful in your homes because you seem to have ‘the knack’. I’ve enjoyed your style evolution so much! Thank you for different avenues of inspiration!

    • Britte says:

      Adding as long as her daughter’s also like their rooms, too. Hopefully they have some say in the room design and it is not driven by the needs of the blog.

      Otherwise, you do you!

      • Trudy says:

        She clearly does include her daughters. Do you watch her stories and posts? Faye chose the wallpaper from 20+ choices. We saw it live. It wasn’t Julia’s preference but she got on board and now loves it. One example.

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I recently got an email from someone that asked, “Where do you go for new design inspiration?” She went on to say, “I use Houzz and lots of popular sites, but I feel like I’m stuck in an algorithm and keep seeing the same things.” I know the feeling — it’s so easy to get […]

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