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Design challenge: Playing with pattern


Making a home flow from room to room is a unique decorating challenge. This is true whether you have an open floor plan or not. It’s important that rooms have a relationship to each other. A great way to create separate living spaces with a cohesive look and feel is to integrate distinctive patterns that play upon each other. Patterns that relate to each other with color, texture and print will act as a visual thread, tying each room together without them looking the same.

Living room with patterns

How to give your home a cohesive interior design

I recently took this approach when a client asked me to transform their Manhattan apartment into a space that was a chic, yet family-friendly environment. The home’s open layout joined the kitchen, dining and living spaces, creating a natural flow for the family. Furnishings were chosen to lend the space a warm, transitional style with a contemporary flair. My team and I selected an organic swirl pattern to integrate into elements in both the living and dining spaces to ensure that there was a common fluidity to each room within the open layout.

In the living room, the swirl shows up subtly on light-colored drapery, and appears again as etching detail on decorative vases. We took a more dramatic approach with the accessories by choosing darker, bolder looping patterns. The curving lines continue through the space with the pendant lighting detail, and on a console beneath the TV.

Moving into the dining room, an oval table is paired with dining chairs covered in a deep brown fabric patterned with green circles, a play on the swirls. For a touch of contrast, the chair backs are upholstered in the reverse of the same fabric to give it a unified yet unique look. A mirror with an oval–shaped etching completes the room.

Robin Baron - Living room with patterns

Decorating from a blank slate

To integrate a play on pattern into your own home, start with the rug or drapery fabric for inspiration, as these are usually two of the first things that you see in a room. Once you find a pattern that you love, start your hunt for fabrics and accessories with similar patterns. Scale is the key in playing with patterns: If it’s a floral you’re going with, mix and match large-scale patterns with small ones. This is true for any pattern you’re using. Monochromatic patterns, likely found in cut velvets or embroidered fabrics, can help keep a space from feeling too busy or overwhelming while still using several patterns together.

Play off of the pattern you already have

If you’re not starting from scratch and you simply want to integrate a few new elements, work with an existing pattern in the room and supplement with accessories that play off of that pattern. At Robin Baron Design, we select the accessories last to best enhance the chosen design scheme. Pillows, lamps, mirrors and art are easy pieces to find and pull a space together. Think about integrating a play on pattern as an inspirational design challenge — go with your instincts and what you love. Most important, have fun doing it!

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