Traditional or contemporary, striped or flowery, large or small, abstract or specific, subtle or bold: these are just a few of the decisions that need to be taken before venturing into the world of pattern. Look to pattern in the form of wallpapers, borders, soft furnishing fabrics or paint effects. You may prefer to decorate by wallpapering an entire room or just one or two walls; you may like to paint a wall and then add pattern with a border running at dado height (conventionally one-third of the way up the wall) or along the top of the wall; or add stenciled or stamped patterns wherever you please.
One way to decorate a room – and probably the most obvious – is to use plain colors as a backdrop. Paint is the easiest finish, but there are some wonderfully subtle wallpapers that incorporate a slight pattern. Then you can add pattern to the room through curtains and cushions and throws. In this way, the finished effect is not too overpowering and you can also ring the changes more easily by, say, swapping around cushions and making lightweight, unlined curtains for the summer and heavier, lined ones for the winter months.
Don’t feel constrained to this way of thinking. It is perfectly viable to combine different patterns and if you don’t feel especially confident about doing this, there are many coordinated ranges produced by textile and wallpaper manufacturers to do the work for you. Papers, borders, and fabrics are designed to work well together and can be helpful if you aren’t quite sure about what would look good together.
One word of warning though – when it comes to mixing different patterns, ensure that they are at least taken from a similar range of colors. Or if you want to mix colors, use variations of the same design. If you have too many colors and patterns, the end result will be a rather confusing jumble of images.
When texture also comes into play the combination of effects that can be created in your home becomes endless. Over the last few years, many new textured fabrics have been developed and with the neutral setting so much in vogue these textures have come into their own as a way to create visual variety or give a focus to a room. Fake fur, leather, puffy cottons and silks, mohair and wool all have their place in the soft furnishing department of stores. Mix and match and add some tactile pleasures to your living and sleeping spaces.