Nicola Holden Designs – Contemporary Interior Designer, London.

Before I get started on pattern I thought I’d say a quick word on the virus. I am not a doctor or a scientist, and it’s hard to know who is right and who is wrong at a time like this when things seem to be changing on a daily basis. As an interior designer, it is my job to help people to create beautiful spaces to live in, and spaces that encourage our health and wellness. And so I hope, as we all start to spend a lot more time at home, that together we can create spaces that nurture us. So please keep safe, and let’s look out for each other.

To me, pattern is the stuff of life.  We are surrounded by patterns.  “We wear them and we walk over them, we eat them and drink them, we even learn, think and speak in patterns.  As well as being part of the basic structure of the human body and mind, patterns speak a powerful universal language.”  Anna Murray & Grace Winteringham, Patternity

The layering of colour, texture and pattern provides a sensorial richness, and a sense of abundance that is not only pleasurable, but vital to healthy neural development.  An environment that is too minimalistic acts as an anaesthetic, numbing our senses and emotions.  Pattern also brings with it the structured repetition of elements.  It enables us to feel abundance without it feeling overwhelming.

I am always on the lookout for patterns, especially when I am travelling and exploring different cultures.  Like a magpie drawn to shiny objects, I am drawn to interiors where layers of patterns are mixed seemingly effortlessly together.

But pattern in an Indian palace is one thing.  The question is, how do we go about adding pattern into our homes.  Here are my top tips:

1. Think Scale, Proportion and Balance

Pattern is often my starting point when working on a new interiors scheme.  As Peti Lau says, “I make sure that the patterns have a scale of small, medium and large.  Like music, I think of patterns like a chord.  A base note, a medium note and a high note to tie it all together to give a beautiful sound.”  Using a mix of geometric prints with florals also helps to create balance and harmony.  Large scale patterns can be less elaborate than smaller prints and can make a real impact, as you can see from this wallpaper in this small hallway.   

In this bedroom I used a large scale printed velvet for the headboard, a medium scale wallpaper, and then cushions with a small delicate print.

2. Balance Pattern with Plain Colours

Using colour is a great way to ground pattern in a room.  If you have a multi-coloured pattern it is easy to pick out some individual colours to use elsewhere in the scheme thereby creating a cohesive and balanced interior.  In this drawing room the curtains are a large scale floral pattern, and then I have picked out two bright pops of colour for cushions.  These colours also work well with the colours in the Keith Haring art.  The neutral colours in the remainder of the scheme prevent the bright colours from feeling too overwhelming.

3. Add Pattern Through Accessories

If you are nervous of adding pattern into your interiors, then look to add pattern through cushions, rugs, accessories and art.  Here, repetition of shape and colour help to pull a scheme together. In this scheme the cushion fabric came first. I then picked out some of the colours in the cushions for the bespoke rug which is made up of large triangles, thereby repeating the shapes in the cushions.

4. Make the Most of Trims

Trims, tapes and borders are excellent ways to add pattern without overwhelming the senses.  In this bathroom I added a trim to the Roman blind to bring some pattern into this space. 

5. Add Vintage Elements

Vintage textiles and rugs add interest and pattern into a scheme.  Think Suzanis, silk Ikats, kelims and Persian rugs which work beautifully in a contemporary setting and can be mixed and matched for a global look.  In this bedroom, the monochrome patterned rug grounds the scheme and adds a subtle element of pattern.

6. Be Bold with Patterned Tiles

Patterned tiles are a great way to bring pattern into those rooms which are so often devoid of personality.  In this London bathroom, I used four different tiles, working in patterned floor tiles, with plain wall tiles laid out to create an interesting pattern in themselves.

7. Even Those that Love Simplicity Can Introduce Pattern

Not all patterns have to be colourful and bold.  Think of patterns that exist in nature – marble, ripples, bubbles, the speckles on an egg, or the cracks in baked earth.  These are all patterns that add richness to our spaces, and stir our senses and emotions.  The Corian worktop in this kitchen adds a very subtle speckled pattern to this space.

And the veining in the marble in this bathroom brings life and movement to these hard surfaces

I hope I have been able to give you some confidence to introducing pattern into your own schemes.  I’d love to hear how you get on!

“The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.”
William Morris

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