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Don't shy away from pattern play

Photo caption: A mix of patterns in various shapes and sizes makes this living room come to life.

(NC) Spring is the perfect time to take decor risks, and playing with various patterns is a simple but effective way to inject a burst of stylish impact in the home. Sometimes though, mixing patterns can be more intimidating than inspiring, so Sharon Grech, the colour and design expert from Benjamin Moore, explains why we need not be afraid of the art of pattern play:

Experiment with various types of patterns: “Done are the days of matching the pattern in the cushions to the rug,” says Grech. “Today's modern look is all about mixing prints with accent pieces like drapes, cushions, throw pillows and art. Try combining a bold, geometric print with an organic, floral motif. These prints actually complement each other and add a lot more visual interest to the space.”

Colour is the unifier: The trick to tying in all the design elements in a room is choosing a harmonious colour palette that unites the patterns together. For example, in the photographed room, the colour Ally's Earring was used on the walls, which is accentuated in all of the patterned accessories. The ceiling was painted in a beautiful, soft blue called Breath of Fresh Air, and other values of blue were introduced in the soft furnishings. The eye is drawn to the commonalities, resulting in a pleasing overall aesthetic effect.

Vary the scales: Patterns can range from a small, medium or large scale, and a balanced room will include a mix of them in various shapes and sizes. While a larger pattern can help tie the room decor together, smaller patterns will draw attention to a specific area of the room. Make sure they are distributed evenly throughout the space, as too many prints grouped closely together will weigh the room down.

Add some texture: Aim for mixing three prints in a given space. If this proves to be a decor challenge, play around with mixing various textures instead. As shown in the photo, the subtle textures found in the fabrics, like the couch and rug, provide dimension, without actually acting as a pattern. The layered stone fireplace and gradation in the hardwood flooring complete the look.

More information, including a how-to on mixing patterns, is available online at

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