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Using Contemporary Patterns in Your Interior Design

Any pattern that captures your fancy can serve as the basis for a foolproof decorating scheme. A wonderful wallpaper, beautiful bedding, upholstery, an area rug, a plate, or even giftwrap can provide interior decorating inspiration.

Geometrics are Contemporary patterns created from basic geometric figures, such as circles, squares, rectangles, triangles, and ovals. Most Contemporary patterns generally leave out flowers and other recognizable figures (which are considered Historical), but some designers make references to florals abstracting and stylizing the design, rendering them less realistic.

The most up-to-date Contemporary patterns today are essentially fresh takes on familiar subjects. For example, animal prints bring to mind jungle creatures, beginning with leopards (on upholstery fabric, sheets, draperies, and more), lions, cheetahs, and zebras. Domestic animals are also quite the rage: cute cats and kittens, dogs (especially pugs), horses, and chickens. Roosters are synonymous with Country styles, from humble-pie Country Cottage style to lord-of-the-manor grand English Country House style, and including the enduring French Provincial style that seems second nature to decorators opting for charm.

Patterns of all sizes and shapes in strong, bold (and boldly contrasting) colors are very Contemporary or “today.” See these patterns in textiles by English designer Trisha Guild, whose textiles are widely available in the United States. See how such patterns in strong colors work to update interiors by looking at rooms by interior designers Diamond and Barratta, whose work appears in Architectural Digest.

Woven patterns are very popular, especially brocades in polished cottons and silks. Not as “busy” as printed patterns, they offer a greater sense of serenity. These sophisticated and elegant fabrics work well for large areas (sofas and draperies, for example) because they do not tire the eye.

Complex mixing and matching of several patterns with seemingly wild abandon is an ever-increasing trend in upholstery, drapery fabrics, dinnerware, and interiors. Though the effect looks almost as if the complexity happened spontaneously, it is meticulously thought out. Endless potential combinations are possible. Just remember: Mixing and matching requires thoughtfully combining small- and medium-scaled patterns with one large dominant pattern most often in the same color.

Try these other guidelines for selecting and using pattern all through the house:

  • Small rooms: If your room is small to medium in size, choose a pattern with a light background. Use that light background for the largest background areas in the room (the walls and the floor). Repeat the dominant pattern hue on upholstery. Reserve the exciting accent color or colors in the pattern for accessories.

  • Large rooms: In a large room, use the dominant hue in the pattern for large areas such as walls and floor. Use the background color of the pattern for upholstery. Limit exciting accent colors to accessories.

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