Learn to love mismatched patterns

The trend that started with the vogue for vintage has now spread to soft furnishings – so can anyone learn to love mismatched patterns?


The vogue for vintage

Ok, so there are some people who always feel faint at the very idea of placing a floral design cup onto a willow pattern saucer. For them, the only way to use colour and pattern in soft furnishings is to ensure it tones, blends and – matches. Most of us have some degree of tolerance for mismatching though. Once you get the habit, it can be liberating!


It’s easier

In some respects, not having to find a perfect match for your cushions, for example, can make life easier. You might have bought them some time ago, or else they were the last ones in the shop. Instead of needing to source identical covers, you can now opt for other patterns. You could also choose plain colours, but in the context of mismatching, this is cheating.


It’s harder

It wouldn’t be true to say that you can pair just any patterns and prints. So how do you know which go together? It is a matter of personal preference but you can soon develop an eye for which combinations work best. Often the best plan is to try them out together: it might take some experimentation to find a pleasing result. There are some tricks and tips to observe.


Matches and mismatches

Choose one element from your existing soft furnishings to dictate the selection of the others for best effect. Perhaps the first fabric has a small repeat pattern – another small pattern will work well, whereas a larger pattern might not. By keeping one constant factor, you’ll soon find yourself combining shapes and patterns you’d never have dared place together before.


Choosing mismatched colours

Choose a dominant colour – say lime green – and opt for variations and tones of that colour, or its opposite in the colour wheel. Use a colour wheel colour picker to help. For lime, the complimentary colour is fuchsia pink. If your original colour is muted, other muted tones might suit your scheme better.


Don’t forget textures

The current vogue is for leather and suede highlights on living room furniture (or their faux equivalents), teamed with plainer velours, woven and damask patterns. The canvas is prepared for more experimentation! Just add trendy ‘big knit’ throws or classic tapestries for contrasting texture. We hope these thoughts will inspire you to get creative in your living room.