Pattern Play: 4 Ways to Use Patterns like a Pro

Patterned rugs are an amazing way to give any room a bold new look.

Design greats like Sister Parish and David Hicks weren’t shy about their love for patterns. They made mixing and matching and using bold elements look easy—and now, you can too. With a few basic tips to guide you, you’ll be able to incorporate pattern into any room in your home.

Put them everywhere. The more, the merrier.

The key to making a mix of patterns work is to carry it throughout the entire room, not just one part of it. If you love a piece, use it—and don’t stop with the sofa. Your bookcase is one of the best places in the home to create interest. Intersperse accents with books to create texture and color that makes a statement. Fancy yourself a literary buff? Go all book, colorblocking sections to create a geometric design. You’ll be surprised at how quickly these disparate elements come together to tell one cohesive story.

Bold patterned rug brings a living room together beautifully.

Use it from the window to the wall.

Looking to really switch things up? Get creative with where you put your patterns; this means going beyond textiles and using the walls themselves—from a single wall of funky paper to a hand-drawn mural blanketing the entire room. With ultra-chic reusable wallpaper and write-on paint becoming more common, there are plenty of options to explore. In the whimsical scene below, the walls and rug add interest without competing. The colorful arm chair and side table are the exclamation points on a well-composed look.

Pairing a patterned rug with bold wallpaper or murals makes a striking statement.

Go big in a small space.

It can be tempting to leave small spaces bare in order to make them feel bigger. But embracing the petite size can have a major upside. A great rule of thumb for making it work is having one singular theme be the focus of the room. Go bold with a large-scale pattern or striking color palette, even if it’s a departure from the rest of your home’s décor. This transforms an otherwise boring space into a fun and unexpected escape.

Liven up small overlooked spaces with big, bold patterning.

Don’t be afraid to start slow.

If your style is more subdued, diving into bold patterns and palettes may not be the right move for you. Instead, go for something that stays true to your tastes by incorporating pattern into your pre-existing color schemes. Neutral-on-neutral is never a bad thing. Swap out one main element of your room—like furniture or a rug—for something with more of a distinctive motif. Then pepper in a few accents to round out the look. This lets you find out what’s working, what’s not, and what you’ll want to build on.

Patterns even enliven safe neutrals.

Prints and patterns are a fun and simple way to express yourself through design. What you say, and how loudly you say it, are dependent on the styles you choose. But perhaps the greatest thing about using patterns is how easy it is to create a look that’s completely unique to you, time and time again.

Want to incorporate pattern into your home? Explore our collection of bold, patterned rugs.


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