When it comes to home decor, many people are very wary of navigating beyond neutrals. But the number one trick to giving your home-made home decor a designer flair is the proper mixture of color, pattern and texture in the fabrics you select.
Paint, wood and stone certainly contribute to the feeling of the rooms in your home. But for now, think of them as your background canvas. It's the fabrics you use to decorate a room that are the most flexible, available in the biggest variety, and the fastest and easiest to change. The key to a beautiful end result is the the proper Mixing & Matching of Colors, Patterns and Textures.
Vary your fabric choice by color, style, size and texture.
Pick your color pallet first. This is where your personal taste should reign supreme. You need to live with your choice 24/7 so pick what you like, not what someone says is the "season's hottest color." Trust me, a little chartreuse goes a long way. Here are a few classic combinations:
- Warm Tuscan Naturals: green, brown, rust and cherry.
- Cool French Country: yellow, blue, cream and maple.
- Lap of Luxury: red, taupe, gold and ivory.
- Tropical Tones: yellow, pink, green and aqua.
The options are endless, but once you pick your pallet you need to stick with it. This is your foundation.
Limit the number of different fabrics in a room to three or four, certainly no more than five. If you find one great fabric that you absolutely love, use it as your centerpiece and coordinate the other fabrics around it. Mix solids and patterns for the most pleasing look. Not everything has to match exactly, but there should be tone consistency from one to another. For example, a highlight color in one fabric might be a background color in another.
Patterns should vary from fabric to fabric in both complexity and scale. You don't want all little tiny prints or all giant florals. The key is to mix it up. Try a floral with a plaid or a stripe. If you find a large scale checked pattern you love, pair it with a small sale floral. Take into consideration the item you're using the fabric for. A bold pattern that looks wonderful on a drapery panel will look fragmented on a small toss pillow. Also think about the distance at which the fabric will usually be seen; small patterns often lose resolution and appear as a solid color or texture from far away.
You can have a lot of fun with texture if you're not afraid to branch out beyond smooth versus nubby. Try quilted fabrics, cut velvet, chenille or corduroy. Pillows are great projects for mixing textures – either within the same pillow or by arranging a group of pillows,each with a different texture. One thing to bear in mind is the fabric "nap." Napped fabrics have a distinct surface texture created by a finishing process that raises the fibers' ends to the surface where they are clipped, brushed or left upright. Flannel, corduroy, velvet and mohair are just a few examples of napped fabrics. A fabric with a very deep nap placed next to a smooth, flat fabric can be a jarring transition. It could work as an accent but probably wouldn't be your best choice over a larger surface.
Interior designers usually make a "swatch board" to give them an at-a-glance reference for how all their choices are working together. You can make one of these yourself. Ask the fabric store if you can clip a small swatch (2" x 3") from the fabrics you're most interested in. For even more flexibility, buy a ½ yard cut of each fabric. Then you'll have big enough pieces to drape over your existing furniture or tack up on the wall for the "big picture" view. Never take your own scissors into the store and cut chunks from the fabric bolts. Always ask first.