Beautifully patterned interiors are the dreams of many but adding pattern to your home if you are new to decorating or have always stuck with neutral decor can be a daunting task. How much is too much? What will clash instead of complement? Tiffany Duggan from Studio Duggan is renowned for her expert use of pattern in her designs, here she shares her top tips to introduce pattern into the home…
1. Think Scale, Proportion & Balance
Scale, proportion and balance is the key to successfully bringing pattern into a room scheme. Whilst I don’t think there are any set rules and instinct should be used as the best guide, if you are nervous or riddled with self-doubt – there is one simple rule that should help! Choose three different patterns in three different scales and keep the rest of the space plain. In this Notting Hill bedroom, we used a large scale ikat print for the cushions, a medium scale marbleised paper lampshade and a bedspread with a delicate, colourful embroidery. A dark green/grey wall brings the scheme together and keeps the look contemporary.
2. Utilise Colour
Colour can be used to confidently ground pattern into a room. By choosing a pattern which includes several colours, one can then extract these colours utilising them in other areas of the scheme. This is a fail safe way to achieve balance. In this family bathroom in a leafy Hampstead Garden Suburb, an encaustic patterned floor tile was used in pale blue and brown. The same tones were then adopted proportionately for the half height tongue and groove panelling with the natural wicker laundry bin and reclaimed timber shelf bringing out the secondary brown accents.
3. Don’t be Afraid to Go Oversized.
Large scale patterns can be less fussy than smaller prints and can make a real impact. When approached with wallpaper all walls should be covered. There is nothing that screams non-committal like a ‘feature wall’! In this boy’s bedroom and bathroom we used a large scale banana leaf wallpaper and then tied in the colour with the bath. An otherwise largely monochrome palette provides a neutral base, with natural textures added to keep it feeling relaxed and with a tropical vibe.
4. Add Pattern Through Accessories
For those of a nervous disposition, pattern can be added through the use of cushions, throws and accessories. However, when using this approach it’s important to tie these accents in by introducing pattern into another larger piece. In my own living room, the Kuba cloth African cushions and shaggy black palm table lamps add a subtle injection of pattern and are complemented by the embroidered silk of the armchair. These accents are grounded by the faded Persian carpet which ties in tonally with other colours in the scheme.
5. Make the Most of Trims, Tapes & Borders
Trims, tapes and borders are excellent ways to add pattern without overwhelming the senses. In the room set we created for the House & Garden festival we chose a pink Greek Key border to sit just above the skirting, giving the feel of a more impressive skirting board and adding a fun quirky accent in a relatively subtle way. A Stark leopard print carpet was used almost as a neutral due to its small scale. A heavenly purple veined marble is a wonderful example of pattern in nature whilst a large scale Tree of Life fabric takes centre stage on the headboard.
6. Add Vintage Textiles
I love to use vintage textiles to bring interest and pattern into a scheme. Suzanis, silk Ikats, kelims and vintage saris all work beautifully in a more contemporary setting and can be mixed and matched for a global look. Using large faded or overdyed vintage carpets is an easy way to add a big injection of pattern to a room, grounding the space and ensuring pattern is dispersed in a balanced, grounded way. In the bedroom above, vintage silk sari shades in muted tones are paired with a bright woven Indian silk lumbar cushion in an otherwise neutral scheme. Whilst in the house below, a plethora of vintage rugs were used throughout to add a base of pattern and colour.
7. Make a Bold Statement with Patterned Tiles
Patterned tiles are an excellent way to bring pattern into the fabric of your house and are surprisingly easy to live with. By making a bold statement with a tile, you can keep the rest of the look relatively simple. In this country house, we used pattern tiles extensively to introduce shape and pattern. The image to the left shows reclaimed cement tiles in a large scale pattern from Bert and May inside the cooker hood, whilst in the image on the right, shape provides the pattern in both the wall details and the Moorish floor tiles.
8. Double Up!
A great and super simple way to use pattern is to choose something you love and then go with it. Match your wallpaper with the headboard or cushions. In my view there is no limit – I’d happily see a whole room in the same print but it’s not for the faint of heart. A subtle way to do the matchy matchy look is illustrated in the symmetrical guest bedroom above. Double beds with matching long lumbar cushions sit underneath a pair of Roman blinds in the same print.
9. Even Those that Love Simplicity Can Introduce Pattern
If simplicity is more your thing, you don’t need to forge pattern entirely – using just one subtle small scale print can look very elegant indeed. In this bathroom, we used a very delicate embroidered Robert Kime fabric for the roman blind with a barely noticeable floral pattern, which nonetheless makes all the difference.
10. Have fun!
Use pattern to add fun and a touch of humour to your design scheme. Animal prints are a wonderful way to add light hearted expression to a room. In this moody master bedroom suite, a cheeky cut velvet leopard print was chosen for the large central ottoman in the dressing room to add humour to an otherwise muted scheme.
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