How to Mix and Match Fabric Patterns

When decorating any outdoor area, coordinating accent pieces and accessories will undoubtedly be added to your shopping list. Accessories such as outdoor pillows, cushions, and rugs add comfort to a space while simultaneously allowing you the opportunity to express your unique tastes. 

If you aren’t sure where to start, don’t worry—we’ve got you. 

While there aren’t any hard-and-fast rules for how to mix and match fabric patterns, there are some general guidelines to follow to help you take the first step. Here are six tips and tricks you can use to create a look that fits your outdoor area. 

1. Start with a Solid Foundation

Neutral colors go with just about anything. Having furniture in white, grey, black, or other neutrals gives you an easy foundation to build upon when mixing fabric patterns. Not only that, mixing up the color of your pillows, blankets, and cushions is much easier (and less expensive) than buying new furniture. 

2. Pick Your Patterns

Pick three patterns—this will be enough to add visual appeal without going over the top. Start with a fabric pattern you love as your foundation, and build on it with the other two fabrics. For example, if you love polka dots, pick a few polka-dotted outdoor pillows, then choose a striped outdoor rug in a complementary palette. Add a finishing touch with a floral throw blanket for contrast. 

If you’re still unsure, try this formula:

  • One nature-inspired pattern: floral, animal print, toile, or damask.
  • One geometric pattern: stripes, chevron, ikat, plaid, or polka dots.
  • One pattern that’s smaller or larger than the other two patterns.

3. Choose Your Colors

After you get an idea of what patterns appeal to you, the next step is color choice. There are a few ways to do this:

  1. Try two colors. Then add a coordinating neutral color like white, black, or grey.
  2. Choose colors with complementing intensities and hues. For example, pairing pastel colors with neons of the same colorway can produce surprisingly stunning results.
  3. Use tone-on-tone palettes. This decorating technique starts with one hue, and shades in varying saturations (aka the amount of white light mixed in with the shade) from its color family are layered in to add definition.

Find fun yet refined fabric choices in the Shayla Copas Fabric Collection by POLYWOOD. The elevated patterns and versatile solids are brought to life in gorgeous colors ranging from warm corals to soft greens to timeless shades of blue. 

 4. Embrace Scale

In design, scale refers to how an object relates to the size of another object. For example, a large L-shaped sectional would be the wrong scale for a cozy balcony, and one small loveseat may look lost on a sprawling deck. Let’s apply the concept of scale to fabrics: large-scale patterns work best with big items like area rugs, and small-scale patterns fit better on little things like throw pillows. 

Changing up the scales of your patterns adds intrigue and depth to your area. Try pairing two small patterns with a large one, or group together one small, one medium, and one large fabric pattern. 

5. Use (All of) Your Space

To maintain balance, spread your patterns throughout your entire space. Patterns on only one side of your patio may look lopsided or cluttered. For example, avoid piling all of your cushions, pillows, and blankets onto one sofa while leaving the rest of your furniture bare. Drape the blanket over a chair, keep the pillows on the sofa, and unroll an area rug in a coordinating pattern to tie it all together.

6. It’s Okay to Rebel

Bending and breaking the rules is fine, especially if you’re experimenting or still learning how to choose coordinating fabrics. If you fall in love with three large-scale patterns and the colors go well together, stick with that design. The patterns you choose don’t have to match, but it’s a good idea for them to share a common thread. This element could be color, style, or scale.

Remember, it’s your space, so decorate it how you like. Whatever path you take to styling your home has our full support, and we love that journey for you.

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