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Pattern play

Pattern mixing is one of those special interior decorating skills that some homeowners are afraid to try themselves and would rather leave to a professional designer.

While it can take some finessing to figure out how to do it well, it’s much easier than many people expect and there are some simple strategies that can be employed that will give you a great result every time.

Mixing blue shaded hues for a layered effect

A blue textured mood board

A blue textured mood board

Mixing blue shaded hues for a layered effect

Mood board: Timber background stained in Resene Colorwood Natural with A4 drawdown paint swatches in Resene Alabaster and Resene Frozen, large vase in Resene Biscay, medium vase in Resene Kashmir Blue and upward facing vase in Resene Polo.  Accessories: Pillowcase from Ezibuy

If you’re a beginner at pattern mixing, a great place to start is with throw cushions and pillowcases – and a great space to test your skills out in is a bach bedroom. One of the most straightforward ways to get the right mix is to stick to a single colour family, such as blue. It will be immediately noticeable that your patterns share a colour in common even if they all have a different design. This is what you ultimately want, as the variety in their styles will lead to an evolved, effortless look. It may take some shopping around to find enough that will work together, but if you are capable of sewing your own, you may have an easier time finding appealing options at your local fabric store. Lay all your possible choices out in one place and if certain ones don’t seem to mesh as well with others, remove them from the mix right away. Depending on how many cushions and pillows you want to have on your bed, aim for three, five or seven different designs as odd numbers tend to feel more balanced than even numbers.

From here, you’ll be able to determine a colour palette to extrapolate to the rest of your space. For the best results, you can bring your cushion covers and pillowcases into your local Resene ColorShop and have them help find the best Resene paint colours to complement which can be used on your walls, furniture and small accessories like picture frames, vases and plant pots so that your colour scheme will connect perfectly.

Paint your sidetable and vases in blue shades to match your linen

Pattern mixing in interior design

Paint: Wall in Resene Alabaster with masked stripe in Resene Frozen and hand-painted stripe in Resene Quarter Frozen, Timber floor stained in Resene Colorwood Natural, Bedside table in Resene Kashmir Blue, Vase in Resene Biscay, Chest of drawers in Resene Biscay with stripes in Resene Spindle, Resene Alabaster and Resene Kashmir Blue, Bench seat in Resene Biscay.   Accessories: White duvet cover from Foxtrot Home; Hampton linen Striped pillowcases from Ezibuy; Ombre home rugs, ombre Euro pillowcase, patterned cushions on bed and bench seat, glass knot from Spotlight; Blue linen throw, Light blue cushion on bench seat from H&M Home.

Once you’ve settled on your colour palette, there are only two other key elements of pattern layering that you’ll need to consider: scale and shape. It’s best to limit yourself to one large-scale pattern. Close up, many large-scale patterns don't appear to ‘fight’ with one another; however, step back a few metres and you'll notice that each is battling to take centre stage. A good rule of thumb is to save larger patterns for larger surface areas. If you’ve already found great patterns to put together on your bed, stick to simple, solid coloured sheets, duvet cover and throws. Look to your walls, furniture and even floor for places you can paint other simple patterns. Your wall design should be the pattern with the largest scale, and then things like dressers or side tables should be of a smaller scale yet still larger than those on your cushions.

To create the wall design, we painted two stripes on top of our base wall colour in Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen tinted to Resene Alabaster. The bottom stripe is 15cm thick and painted in two coats of Resene Frozen. We used high quality washi-style painter’s tape – available at Resene ColorShops – to mask off the area and removed the tape once the second coat was dry to the touch to get a crisp finish. Once the first stripe had dried completely, we used Resene Quarter Frozen to hand-paint the top stripe on in two coats using a large paintbrush so it would have softer, imperfect edges and lend a more casual vibe.

We used a similar strategy to paint our chest of drawers except that we chose to paint light stripes over a dark blue background and run our stripes in the opposite direction. This helps create more contrast in the space and adds another element of interest because, even though both patterns are stripes, they will visually read as being very different. Yet, the fact that they are both stripes also helps link the two designs and makes the space feel more cohesive. After prepping and priming the surface, we started with two basecoats in Resene Lustacryl semi-gloss waterborne enamel tinted to Resene Biscay. Once dry, we applied painter’s masking tape to create three different widths of stripes and painted these in two coats of Resene Spindle, Resene Alabaster and Resene Kashmir Blue.

Styling by Vanessa Nouwens. Photography by Bryce Carleton. 2022

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Colours shown on this website are a representation only. Please refer to the actual paint or product sample. Resene colour charts, testpots and samples are available for ordering online.   See measurements/conversions for more details on how electronic colour values are achieved.