Back to the basics: patterns


In a previous post I discussed tactile textiles and their influence on the atmosphere and lighting in a room. Today we’re graduating to Visual Textiles. Visual textiles is the illusion of texture which can be anything from prints and photographs to patterns, and ultimately the most confusing decorating characteristic… yay!

But seriously, I know a lot of people who have trouble wrapping their heads around visual textiles. What kind of pattern should I choose? Do I have too many patterns in my room? What kind of art should I buy? Should all my wall art be similar?

In interior design, patterns can make or break a room; they can either make a room that is rather dull and plain into something exciting and unique, or they can be too complicated and stressful if used improperly. There really aren’t any specific rules, but when designing a new space I try to follow a few key ideas:

  • Try to stick to 3 different bold patterns MAX for a room which includes accessories like pillows and blankets. Each pattern should vary in size and shape. Having 2 patterns beside each other with the same dimensions can seem cluttered. Solid colours can be used to balance out the use of multiple patterns.

  • If you want to make a small room appear larger, consider vertical or horizontal lines as patterns. Vertical lines will create more height and horizontal lines will make the room seem longer. A very popular pattern right now is Chevron, which will give this effect.

  • Accent colours: Just like patterns, accent colours should be balanced as well. They are not necessary as neutrals are beautiful on their own, but they can really create a punch. Try to stick to I colour which will create a WOW affect.

Now that you have an idea of what kind of textiles you want for your room, your next challenge is filling the walls with artwork and prints. There really aren’t any rules when it comes to wall art. When asked about what to decorate on the walls, my design mentor (who has been designing residential and commercial spaces for over 30 years) says the same thing to each of her customers: buy artwork for art’s sake. She believes that although artwork can seriously compliment a room, the foremost importance is in your love towards that piece. Don’t buy something just because you think it might look good or because you saw it in a magazine (unless you love it of course!) but choose your artwork based on how much you appreciate it. You can accessorize the room with all kinds of doodads and doohickeys that are beautiful and complimentary but otherwise meaningless to you, however your artwork should strictly represent you and the feeling you get from observing it.

That’s not to say that you can’t buy pieces just because you know they’ll look good. Some people don’t have a flair for art and that is completely fine! In that case, try to find something that represents the colours and shapes elements you want to accentuate in the room. A rustic chic room with a lot of natural textures and colours might have black, white and green landscape or foliage artwork. A modern contemporary room with square corners and white, sleek textures could be complimented with a bright acrylic painting or colourful city scape. A shabby chic room can be decorated with floral paintings and prints.

The only important thing to keep in mind is that all wall art should be hung at the average person’s eye level, creating harmony. So if you’re short like me, you aim a little higher than what feels right to you.

It’s all about preference. Discover what visual textures appeal to you first and then organize which ones would look great together! Next: how to add colour into the mixture.

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