How To Mix Patterns and Pillows - Inspired To Style

How To Mix Patterns and Pillows

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So, one of the questions I get asked most frequently is how to mix and match prints…especially when it comes to sofa pillows.

It’s a valid question because if you look back at your favorite interior design photos, particularly those of living rooms and bedrooms, you’ll notice that one of the most impactful elements in the design and the one that almost always single-handedly ties the room together is the pillows!

Pillows are a MUST-have for any completed space, but mixing and matching them can be tricky.

Custom pillows are often the preferred tools for designers, but you can still achieve a stylish space with store-bought, budget-friendly options.

***Case in point: All of the pillows used in this demo were purchased at home decor retail stores in my area. See the captions below each picture for details on where I purchased the pillows and the coordinating blankets.***

The Secret:

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So what’s the secret to effectively mixing prints and pillows? The answer is as easy as 1-2-3!

  1. Theme
  2. Color
  3. Scale

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One of the things you’ll notice is that each look has a theme that serves as the “compass” for the look. This establishes the parameters and boundaries for the types of colors, fabrics and shapes we’ll choose when creating each look.

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As I mentioned above, from the theme we’ll derive a color palette that visually communicates and supports the theme.

learn how to mix prints patterns fabric home decor pillows interior design how to guide video

The best way to mix prints is to vary the scale in terms of the size of the print on the pillows as well as the shape and size of the pillows themselves.

The Setup

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In order to prove to you the power of pillows and to demonstrate how to effectively mix patterns and prints, I used my own sofa as a backdrop and decided to create three distinctively different looks.

Here’s how this 1-2-3 method applies to each of the looks in the demo:

Classic Americana

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I knew that I wanted to create this classic look because I think it’s right up the alley for someone who is a “traditionalist.” Think Ralph Lauren for the home. In fact, many of the pillows used in this demo are made by the Ralph Lauren brand.

The color story was a no brainer–what’s more American than red, white and blue?

The large floral print fabric on the blue is a very traditional element, and the bright red velvet pillows add just the right amount of visual punch. The navy dotted center pillow brings in more blue and the dots remind me of the stars on the american flag.

To vary the scale you’ll notice that the pillows are positioned with the largest pillows, 24 inches, used as book ends. Then the 22 inch red velvets are used for slight size variation while the solid color gives our eyes a rest. Finally, the 20 inch navy dotted pillow gives us one more size variation in terms of pillow size, but also the small dotted print is a scale variation that doesn’t compete with the large print on the Paisley pillows.

{Resource list from left to right: Blanket (Home Goods), Paisley Print Blue and White Pillows (Home Goods), Red Velvet Pillows (Home Goods), Dotted Navy Print Pillow (Home Goods)}

Beautiful Blues

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Ok. I am a huge fan of a blue color palette. If you’ve seen videos, photos or previous blog posts regarding my home you know I’m telling the truth!

In this demo, I wanted to go a little bit more eclectic instead of “matchy matchy.”

I used the two large blue pillows to frame the vignette. Then I pulled in two different medium-sized prints ( the blue and white geometric print on the left and the blue, tan and teal watercolor print on the right) on the middle pillows to add a little bit of visual interest. Finally, I popped in a tone-on-tone teal velvet pillow to pull some of the teal out of the pillow on the right and add in more color.

The interesting thing about this look is that instead of positioning the pillows in a classic “v” shape like Look #1, I alternated the sizes to shake things up a bit. The blue end pillows are 24 inch, the medium-print pillows are 20 inch pillows and the teal pillow in the center is a 22 inch pillow.

{Resource list from left to right: Blue Denim Pillows (Home Goods), Geometric Print Blue and White Pillow (Home Goods), Teal Velvet Pillow (Home Goods), Blue Mohair Blanket (Pottery Barn), Blue and Teal Watercolor Pillow (Home Goods)}

Livable Luxe

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This is look is the style I would probably decorate my home in if I didn’t have small kids (and a husband who is opposed to ultra-feminine elements).

I love the muted color palette, hints of blush and the TEXTURE!

If Look #2 pushes the envelop, this one throws the envelop out the window!

Even though all of the pillows (except for the two end pillows) are different, the color palette is what ties it all together. Charcoal, blush, cream…these colors are the palette that creates this luscious mix!

The scale of the prints and pillows is also an important element used to create this look. The herringbone print on the end pillows is tone-on-tone so that it almost has the effect of a solid color. The two hair-on-hide pillows have a medium-sized print while the zebra print pillow is a large-scale print. The studded pillow would be considered the small-scale print.

{Resource list from left to right: Pale Blush Herringbone Pillows (Home Goods), Triangle Print Hair-on-Hide Pillow (Marshalls), Black and White Zebra Print Pillow (Home Goods), Silver Studded Pillow (Marshalls), Charcoal Blanket (Mashalls), Crescent Print Hair-on-Hide Pillow (Marshalls)}

learn how to mix prints patterns fabric home decor pillows interior design how to guide video

Cast your vote in the comments below! And don’t forget to share this post with all of your friends!

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