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Category:  Decorating

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Decorating with Fabric

 Ten Fool-proof Secrets to Combining Patterns

By Pamela Cole Harris

Would you love to be able to combine fabrics just like the designers do? Did your last attempt look like a color-blind, half-drunk orangutan with a plaid fetish decorated the room? Here are ten easy secrets to combining fabric patterns that will make your room look like a million bucks!

1. Find one basic fabric that you love and build the room around it! Whether it is plaid, floral, striped or solid, make it the foundation fabric for the room.

2. Unless the patterns are muted and subtle, try not to use more than three patterns in a room. Otherwise, the effect will be one of chaos rather than balance.

3. Vary the style of the patterns. Instead of choosing three plaids, try a floral, plaid and stripe. Or maybe add checks or a geometric pattern.

4. Vary the scale of the pattern. If you have a large plaid, choose a medium scale stripe and a small scale floral.

5. Don't cluster the patterns in one area of the room. Spread them out in at least three different areas to give visual balance to the room.

6. Unite the patterns with a common color. If your foundation fabric is red, all of the patterns should be have the same red as the prominent color.

7. Use small scale patterns in a smaller room. In larger rooms, where they are seen at a distance, these tend to be read as texture or a solid.

8. Medium scale patterns are the most versatile. They can retain their pattern at a distance, yet in a smaller space, they dont overpower.

9. Choose large scale patterns with care. They can overpower a small space, but can add vibrancy to a larger room. They will appear bolder when covering large furniture, but look fragmented on smaller pieces.

10. Choose stripes to add height or width to a furniture piece or the room.

Variety may be the spice of life, but its also the key to combining patterns. Varying the patterns you choose from large scale and open to small scale and dense is fundamental to a harmonious design.

That was easy, wasnt it? Now can we have a little talk about your choice of colors? What were you thinking?!

Pamela Cole Harris is an editor and writer with 35 years experience. Visit her website,  for a free newsletter with remodeling, home improvement and decorating ideas for the financially challenged and creatively deficient. Or for unique content for your website, written especially for your keywords and audience, visit


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