How to Think Like an Interior Designer Part 7: Pattern

Pattern is one of the more difficult elements of interior design to master.  Choosing incorrectly can easily overwhelm a space and become a design disaster.  It is important to understand this element and how to best utilize it to enhance your living space.  Pattern is best described as a repetitive graphic depiction on any material.  Patterns carry with them a sense of predictability which in turn provides unity to a room’s design. 


Some commonly used patterns in interior design are: stripes, geometric, floral/organic and motif. Vertical stripes add height while horizontal ones add width.  Geometric patterns provide different impressions depending on the shapes being used; circles provide movement while rectangles convey stability.  Floral/Organic designs are inspired by nature through plant and animal life.  Florals are classic while animal prints tend to go in and out of popularity.  Motif patterns are random repetitive designs that are good at creating a sense of continuity. 


The best thing to do before you get started is to consider the size of the room you are working with.  The larger the room, the larger the pattern you can safely use without overpowering it.  If there is a bolder pattern you are interested in, then a large room may be your best bet for incorporating it into your design.  In contrast, smaller prints work better with smaller spaces.  Use lighter patterns in these smaller areas to keep the eye engaged and the room looking fresh. 


Next, think about the function of the room.  If you are decorating a space that you enjoy entertaining guests in, then choosing a pattern with highly contrasting colors will inject energy into the room.  Patterns containing more complementary colors tend to feel calmer and are better suited to bedrooms and other quiet spaces. 


Finally, think about the style of your home and what patterns will suit it best.  Whether you have a modern, contemporary, or traditional style home, there are going to be patterns that are better suited to your current furnishings.  Choosing a mismatched look for one part of your home will ruin its overall natural flow, so make wise choices.  You may have to adjust your expectations to best serve your decoration project.