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How to Mix Fabrics For A Custom Look in Home Decor in 5 Easy Steps

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5 Easy Decorator's Tips for Mixing Fabrics with Different Colors, Patterns & Textures

We've put together five easy-to-follow guidelines and lots of pictures to make it easy for you to achieve an expertly put-together room that expresses your personal style and is worthy of appearing in your favorite decorating magazine.

Many people are good at mixing one pattern with a solid but are afraid of adding more. Yet, adding even one more color, print or pattern can make the difference between a so-so room and one that is interesting, polished, and pulled together.

Those brave enough to venture beyond the two-fabric combo will often rely on retail home decor fabrics printed in the same colors and sold as coordinates. However, these fabrics are usually overly matched and the result is formulaic cookie-cutter decorating that can be boring and leaves little room (pun intended) for individual expression.

You will also find some links to some great (way-below-wholesale and warehouse priced) buys on fabulous to-the-trade only fabrics and wallpapers to get those creative juices flowing and inspire your own unique style of home decor!

1. Inspiration is Primary

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A fabulous designer fabric is often the starting point of a great interior decorating scheme and a room that is welcoming -- that just "feels right."

Begin by choosing a fabric in a pattern or color you love. Names to look for include Brunschwig & Fils, Clarence House, Schumacher, Scalamandré, Stroheim & Romann, Lee Jofa or other premier design houses. Try to find a design or pattern in at least three colors, such as the floral shown here.

This will be your inspirational starting point and the most prominent design element in your room. (If you prefer to use a wallpaper for your interior decor's starting point, just substitute the wallpaper for the primary fabric and choose a fourth coordinate according to the following guidelines.)

Neoclassical Interior Design Decorator Sample Swatch Board Coordinates Fabrics Trims
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Neoclassical Interior Design Decorator Sample Swatch Board Coordinates Fabrics Trims

2. Choose Coordinates

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Once you have your main decorating fabric, select two or more fabrics, each having one or more of the colors in your inspiration fabric. Try to vary the fabrics so that contrast, texture, scale, sheen, and pattern vary.

• Contrast: Overall color of one fabric should be light, one medium, and one dark.

• Texture: Choose fabrics with different textures, such as a smooth silk and a woven linen.

• Scale: Vary the size of the patterns by including one large, one medium, and one smaller pattern or solid. For example, you might choose a large floral like the one above, a medium size plaid or stripe in coordinating colors, and a small embroidered pattern or a solid in a textured matte linen or cotton to complement the sheen in the chintz.

• Sheen: Mix shiny and matte fabrics.

• Patterns: Mix curvy and linear patterns, such as a floral or a toile and a check or plaid, with a solid. Or choose a third pattern.

Note: Most of these tips will also apply to decorating with a single-color scheme. In fact, following these simple guidelines will add interest and will keep a monotone from becoming monotonous.

Handy Reference for Country Style Pattern Mixing

Country Living Perfect Patterns for Walls, Floors, Fabrics and Furniture
Country Living Perfect Patterns for Walls, Floors, Fabrics and Furniture

Loads of pictures and answers a lot of "does this go with that" questions with an emphasis on country style decor.


3. Experiment to create different looks

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Experiment with different swatches until you find a grouping that balances color, scale, and pattern and is pleasing to you. You can do this with actual swatches if available, or you can request jpegs from on-line sellers whose fabrics you are interested in, download them, adjust the size of pictures for scale, and see how they look together on your computer screen.

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Home decorating should be fun, so play around with different fabrics and be sure to check the swatches with different lighting too. A fabric that looks great in a softly lit room at night, for example, may look garish to you during a sun-flooded afternoon.

Remember, too, that colors will look different depending on what other colors are adjacent to them, so be sure to look at your swatches against wall, floor, and furniture colors.

4. Decide What Goes Where?

Once you have decided on your home decorating fabrics, plan where they will be used. Do not use all of the fabrics in one area of the room. Spread them around to create balance. For example, if you use your inspiration fabric for a valance and/or curtains, or draperies in your bedroom, you might use the same fabric for a couple of throw pillows, shams, or a headboard and/or dust ruffle for the bed, to cover a lampshade, and as welting or a cushion for a pair of chairs. Then your second fabric (such as the plaid or stripe in the previous example) could be used as a duvet cover and for window shades and to upholster one chair. Your third fabric might be a luxurious solid silk or linen that can be used to trim the window treatments, make shams or throw pillows for the bed, and to cover a bench at the foot of the bed and a second chair.

5. Put it All Together

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Don't forget that your walls and floorcoverings are additional areas for color and pattern

and be sure to consider them, as well as the style and scale of your furniture, when planning your room. Remember, these are guidelines, not rules, and there are exceptions, including some in the pictures we've included in this lens to inspire you. Have fun!

Two Home Decor Fabrics = Two Interior Decorating Looks - By Changing the Third Coordinate

Fabric coordinates with two same and one different
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Fabric coordinates with two same and one different

In the above photos, two fabrics in each one are the same, Just by changing

the third coordinate you can create a different look and feeling.

What a Difference One Fabric Makes

The following question refers to the two photos above.

Which of the above combination of fabrics do you like better? Why?

  • I prefer the top one
  • I prefer the bottom one
  • I like both of them equally
  • I don't like either one
See results without voting

Interior Design Color Wheel Helps You Harmonize

Your Interior Design Projects.

Guide to

Pattern & Color:

Decorating Ideas

for Your Home

(Home Magic)

Color Harmony:

Expert Color

Information for


Color Results

The Color

Scheme Bible:

Inspirational Palettes for Designing

Home Interiors



Interior Design


Color Design

Which Trim Would You Choose?

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Both of these trims coordinate with the two fabrics shown. Which do you prefer?

Which trim would you choose?

  • The White One in the First Photo
  • The Multicolored One in the Second Photo
See results without voting
How to mix fabrics Asian coordinating fabrics
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How to mix fabrics Asian coordinating fabrics

Some Additional Inspiration

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More Sample Boards - For a Casual Country Look

how to mix fabric patterns photos
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how to mix fabric patterns photos

For a More Urban(e) Look...

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Or a Casual Elegance...

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Visit Restoration Fabrics & Trims - For 100s More Inspiration Fabrics

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Specialists in Period Sensitive Decorating at Budget Sensitive Prices


Like Interior Decorating Tips and/or Old Houses? - Want to See More Coordinating Fabric Boards?

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We're So Glad You Stopped By!

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See all 18 photos

Make Your Own Squidoo Lens

It's FREE and a lot of fun!

You do not need to be a member of Squidoo to visit our lenses or leave comments, but if you'd like to make your own lens, have more "voting" rights, and earn some extra cash for yourself or your favorite charity, I invite you to join our community!

Special thanks to Steve for the Squid Art used in this module.

All fabric photos and collages were created by Restoration Fabrics & Trims (that's us!)

    ©   All Text and photos not otherwise credited are © 2011-2012 CJS

   Restoration Fabrics & Trims LLC/Old House Interiors. All rights reserved.

   For information about copyright issues, please click here.


Discover diy upholstery and the secrets behind tufting, stitching, buttoning...and how to restore sagging seats, replace worn coverings, replace any worn out springs, re-new stitching. And more, MUCH more. Just click here for more info.

 Last updated on April 29, 2014

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Ask a question, Leave a comment - or Say Hello... 49 comments

renee7 profile image

renee7 4 years ago

This is a very well written lens on mixing fabrics and patterns. You have done a really nice job explaining what to look for as you combine patterns and colors. Thanks!

chezchazz profile image

chezchazz 4 years ago from New York Hub Author

@renee7: Thank you. Glad you found it useful!

anonymous 3 years ago

Wow! Finally found understandable and easy to follow tips on coordinating my home - Most others I found were overwhelming or too simplistic. Thank you!

chezchazz profile image

chezchazz 3 years ago from New York Hub Author

@anonymous: Thank you! Glad you found it helpful.

anonymous 3 years ago

I'm impressed with this article. Very succinct but packed with valuable teaching! Thank you very much! It helps me a lot with my assignment:-)

jimmielanley profile image

jimmielanley 3 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

Mixing fabrics takes a certain confidence that I don't think I have. Love the images here!

LouisaDembul profile image

LouisaDembul 3 years ago

This is not easy to put into practice, but the result is fantastic!

tiff0315 profile image

tiff0315 3 years ago

Visited a few of your lenses and you have some really great advice! You have a real knack for design

pacrapacma lm profile image

pacrapacma lm 3 years ago

Nice! You have a way with color. You have inspired me to think about coordinating my bedding and possibly painting my bedroom. I just loved looking at the pictures of mixing fabic on this lens!

justholidays profile image

justholidays 3 years ago Level 1 Commenter

This is a very interesting page which I save on the computer so that I can come back over and over; I definitely appreciated the tips provided as well as noticed some designs that I like and want to make sure to associate the good ones.

TheLittleCardShop profile image

TheLittleCardShop 3 years ago

Fantastic decoration tips and useful information. I happen to be decorating our house and haven't done much since I'm afraid to spend a lot of money without beig really convinced of what colors or fabrics to choose.

anonymous 3 years ago

The layout is stunning and your choice of images is terrific, you have an eye to detail. Beautiful selections of fabric.

LoKackl profile image

LoKackl 3 years ago

Down with "cookie cutter decorating"!! -- lensrolled to my humble "boston-celtics-decor"

chezchazz profile image

chezchazz 3 years ago from New York Hub Author

Thank you all. It is both humbling and exciting to get such wonderful comments from such outstanding lensmasters!

anonymous 3 years ago

I'm not very good at mixing fabrics and patterns so I really appreciate all the tips and visuals shown here. Very nice job!

myraggededge profile image

myraggededge 3 years ago

I love how you have presented this information. The pics are so helpful. Featured here:

lollyj lm profile image

lollyj lm 3 years ago from Washington KS Level 1 Commenter

I'm the world's worst decorator so always enjoy a few new tips.

Beautiful lens.

sukkran trichy profile image

sukkran trichy 3 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu Level 2 Commenter

really amazing.

mockingbird999 profile image

mockingbird999 3 years ago

Looks really good.

chrispell017 3 years ago

nice lens!

KimGiancaterino profile image

KimGiancaterino 3 years ago from California

Very nice pattern combinations. It really helps amateurs like myself who enjoy home decorating.

KarenCookieJar 3 years ago

I'm not very good at mixing patterns, but I love it when I see it done well. Thanks for the tips.

JanisDawn 3 years ago

nicely done i like the examples in the end

Helene-Malmsio 3 years ago

Your lenses are such a feast for my eyes! I used to work in soft furnishings / interior decorating, and have an abiding love for textures and colours in home decor - and the ones in your lenses are utterly delectable !

Pam Irie profile image

Pam Irie 3 years ago from Land of Aloha Level 4 Commenter

Very informative! Our house is so small that I've learned to save my prints for accessories and keep my big ticket items more nuetral. Great lens!

RocklawnArts 2 years ago

Cool lens!

KeepsakeIdeas 2 years ago

Very interesting insights into the way an interior decorating puts coordinating fabrics together.

BLouw profile image

BLouw 2 years ago from France Level 2 Commenter

I love your fabrics and this vintage look. I have bought a French country farm house and love that rural look too. The Arts and Crafts movement and Art Nouveau have long been favourites, but best of all I like the people that can put together junk and found objects and make them look like a million dollars.

DeannaDiaz profile image

DeannaDiaz 2 years ago

Fantastic lens! I feel so inspired to redecorate!

Ann Hinds profile image

Ann Hinds 2 years ago from So Cal Level 3 Commenter

OK, I want them all. Great job showing me what goes together.

sherioz profile image

sherioz 2 years ago

This is great for giving confidence to play around with colour and design. Thanks so much. I move house in the summer and I will be needing that confidence.

anonymous 2 years ago

where can I access the fabric on the right under casual elegance?

chezchazz profile image

chezchazz 2 years ago from New York Hub Author

@anonymous: Hi Linda. It depends which fabric. Many of the fabrics shown in this lens can be found in my website store at and in our eBay store of the same name, but we also used photos of fabrics that are not listed on line. We have sold out of the toile in the picture you asked about, but have similar toiles and some yardage of the other fabrics in that photo. You can contact me privately if you are interested in ordering fabrics. Thank you for your interest and please let me know if I can be of assistance.

Rangoon House profile image

Rangoon House 2 years ago Level 1 Commenter

What a fun educational lens on home decorating. I love the urban look.

KateHonebrink profile image

KateHonebrink 2 years ago

I absolutely adore all your sample boards! Wonderful colors, textures, patterns and combinations! Stunning!! I am inspired!

seashell2 profile image

seashell2 2 years ago

Love the sample boards, great examples! :-)

Scarlettohairy profile image

Scarlettohairy 2 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A. Level 3 Commenter

It looks you really know what you're doing. Lovely combinations!

mihgasper profile image

mihgasper 2 years ago from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU

I would never thought about so many colors and patterns at once. I like how daring they look:-)

greatgifts4u 2 years ago

What great ideas - I never would have thought of them myself.

cdevries profile image

cdevries 2 years ago Level 1 Commenter

Very interesting to have you explain the rules for matching patterns that I've been doing just seat-of-the-pants... You've pulled together some gorgeous combinations!

lesliesinclair profile image

lesliesinclair 2 years ago Level 4 Commenter

I do enjoy mixing fabrics and prints and enjoyed your lessons on this knack for decorating

anonymous 2 years ago

I have living room furniture that was give to me by many people . I have dark wood light wood and med wood . ? Can I mix them together ? And what would it look like ? If not how do I get the wood the same coler with out having to sand it?

chezchazz profile image

chezchazz 2 years ago from New York Hub Author

@anonymous: You can definitely use different types of wood in the same room. In fact, it is often preferable, from an interior design point of view, to do that. Just move the pieces around until you get a pleasing and balanced arrangement.

MarcellaCarlton 21 months ago

Really beautiful fabrics. Most of it reminds me of an English Country House. Lovely.

Aunt-Mollie 19 months ago

I really love the look of tapestry in some of the fabrics you show here.

anonymous 13 months ago

I enjoyed your presentations here. I don't live with anything this floral and colorful. I prefer neutral, tone on tone decor. I DO lots of pattern mixing and colors in my wardrobe though.

DebMartin profile image

DebMartin 13 months ago Level 3 Commenter

I love flowers and stripes together.

sdnelson22192 7 months ago

What are the fabrics on the top row of the casual elegance board? I love the toile and the coordinating fabrics

chezchazz profile image

chezchazz 7 months ago from New York Hub Author

@sdnelson22192: If memory serves me, the toile was a Kravet fabric. It has been out of print for some time. The bottom fabric is Kravet's Strauss (from the Alsace-Lorraine Collection). You can find it here:

Hope that helps.

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