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julie nolta design
Julie Nolta

Hi, I'm Julie, Chief Executive Empress

of my little apple green design studio.

Welcome to my blog!

When I'm not out visiting a client or searching for just the right  product for a project, I can probably be found in my happy little studio (painted the perfect shade of green), busy drawing up new ideas for a cool kitchen or a "spa-licious" bathroom. I like to share the fun stuff I find along the way!


apple green studio

How to mix patterns like a pro

A room’s décor depends on nothing so much as the fabrics that you choose for your upholstered furniture, bedding, pillows and drapery. When they all play nicely with each other, it makes for a lovely room.

But knowing how to put different, complementary fabric patterns together can seem daunting. I’m here to tell you that if you know a few secrets, you can easily create a designer look yourself.

So I’ve got three tips for you on how to mix and match different fabric patterns like a boss!

Start with an inspiration piece

I know you’ve heard this from me before, but here I go again: find an inspiration piece for your space and use that to determine the direction of your room design.

Your inspiration could be just about anything, but since we’re all about fabric today, choose some fun fabric you love - - preferably a pattern on a larger scale - - and use those colors as a jumping off point for all the other items and fabric you’ll choose. It will make pulling your room together SOOOO much easier!

Here are some fabrics I selected recently for a client. The large floral pattern was the inspiration and then I picked coordinating fabrics that had the same green and red/orange colors. The green could be the furniture, the stripe could be curtains, and any combination of these could be pillows.

mixing fabric patterns

This was option #2 with the paisley looking print as the inspiration. Wouldn't this combination be smashing in a kitchen?!

mixing patterned fabrics

Use obviously different patterns and sizes

The main trick here is to avoid putting patterns together that look too much alike, which starts looking cluttered. Instead mix COMPLETELY different patterns like a they've done here with a bold stripe, a floral and a smaller plaid. And don’t forget to throw in some textures like velvets, nubby weaves, or sweater knits.

mixing patterned fabrics

This week I met digital scrapbook designer Tracy Monette who knows her stuff when mixing colors and patterns. I couldn't resist snapping a pic of the colorful pillows on her sofa.

mixing patterned fabrics

Stay with the same color intensities

Keep it consistent - - light pastels don’t get along with deep jewel tones, for example. Work with colors that all have the same depth and your room will look more polished.

BONUS TIP: cheat with companion fabrics

If you still don’t feel confident about your pattern mixing skills, many kind-hearted fabric companies have done the hard work for you by creating three or four coordinated fabrics that are all designed to work together.

Here’s a collection by designer Sarah Richardson for Kravet. You can’t go wrong putting any of these fabrics with any others. Easy peasy!

Sarah Richardson collection

You can also check out fabric stores like Joanne’s and websites like for coordinating fabrics. If you’re in Portland, a great store to visit is Whole 9 Yards. They’ve got books that group fabrics together by color and also by style which makes it hard to make a mistake. Plus it’s just a cool place to go check out.

Use these three (actually FOUR) tips, and you’ll be mixing and matching patterns like nobody’s business!

If you’d still not sure you want to try this yourself, get a hold of me and I'll help you pull together fabrics for your own fabulous room. :-D


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