Color and Pattern Design Basics

To give visual interest to any room it’s a good idea to include some items that have an interesting pattern or texture. You can do this with the fabric on pillows or the weave of a basket. The crucial thing to remember here is to choose what you love and what is in keeping with your color scheme – and remember a little bit goes a long way! As you shop it helps to carry your colors with you in whatever form you have been able to collect them such as fabric samples, paint chips or small items that are easy to carry. Don’t try to match your color scheme using photos because the color won’t be true in your photo. Pattern Fabric

Pattern Selection

When looking through fabric pattern selections remember that you are viewing them from a small sample and are not getting the overall affect. For instance your sample might feature more blue than is actually in the overall pattern. The design of fabric has a “repeat cycle” where the picture or pattern repeats in shape and color. The repeat can vary from as little as every 1/4″ inch to as much as 36″ inches or more. You can imagine if you wanted to make an 18″ pillow out of a design that repeated at 36″ you would be missing some of the design and the same goes when it is used to cover a sofa. So choose a design with a repeat that fits your project while making sure it is the right color scheme and something you really love. The swatch you look at is only about 12 to 15 inches square so a small print that looks great on this size may look tiny and resemble dots on a large sofa. It is best to see a photo of the finished product or an example in the showroom you can take a picture of. This way you will know how the pattern looks on the item you are placing it on. What you like “up close” you may not like “far away.”

Choosing Upholstery Colors

Upholstery color is often the dominate factor in the décor of the room you are using it in. Sometimes an area rug will be the focal point and you will choose upholstery to show it off but unless you have an area rug or strong wall art in mind it is best to look at fabric for your sofa and chairs first and evolve the room colors around what you select here. The colors for flooring, walls and drapery tend to be solid background colors designed to enhance other print designs in the room so they can be chosen next.  When you find something you really love use it as your anchor for the room. This could be a piece you already own or something you discover during the dream phase of your project. It might be a painting, an area rug, a pillow design, fabric pattern or even a theme. I once did a room around the theme of desert palm trees. When you have your anchor piece then the rest of the color selections simply fall into place. If you don’t have an anchor piece to lead the way, then start with the fabric you will use on your large pieces of furniture and go on from there.

If you are not interested in fabric with a print or pattern then choosing the main color will be your first step. I have done many rooms where only solid color fabrics were chosen and the visual interest for the room came in the form of texture found in art pieces and moldings. If you have a wood paneled wall, stone work, any other pattern you bring into the room such as fabric on a sofa, it all needs to coordinate together. So start your room plan by choosing your dominate item and use it’s color or pattern to direct your next choice. If you have items you already own and are keeping you will want to be sure to coordinate them with anything new you are adding to the rest of the room.

I hope these tips are helpful to you as you work through your decorating project. Feel free to write me with your questions.

’till next time,
Your Personal Space Coach


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