Be Brave: Mix Lots of Patterns

I’m always dreaming of what to do next in our little apartment in Chennai, India. It’s functional but not “finished.” What finishes it? Layers! Layers of patterns, layers of colors, layers of textures.

Because we have to take things for the apartment in suitcases on an airplane, or try to use our time as efficiently as possible in India, and find things in India, I plan in advance. I do mock-ups in Photoshop to see how it will look. One area I’m playing with is the living room sofa area, and the wall behind the sofa.

Juju hat India apartment

I have those five pillows waiting to go to India. So I’m moving toward a color palette of neutral tones with dark browns and black. As I’ve written about here previously, India isn’t easy for me. The heat, the traffic, the loudness — it might be exciting at first but it does wear me down after awhile. So I’m shooting for a soothing atmosphere in our apartment. And to me, that means neutrals.

So how do you punch up the interest with neutral colors? Patterns!

You can see I mixed patterns with the pillows and rug. I really want a large zig zag basket from The Baba Tree Basket Company. The zig zag lines balance out all the curving lines in the other patterns.

I run out of steam for the wall though. I thought about finding a juju hat for texture, stick it on the wall against a painted block of color, and call it a day. Super fast and easy wall decorating. Use the extra time to go to an ayervedic spa.

But I got restless, thinking that isn’t ENOUGH. But what to do? I love arches and India is full of Mughal arches. I’d love to find a set of carved wood arches. Install them on the wall. And paint patterns in the arches, maybe with big Modello stencils like this one, shown in the mock-up below. What you’d get is this:

India Apartment Living Room

Ah. That feels right. Regal. Worthy of all the pattern that you can find in India! I may be on the hunt for carved wood arches!

I forget where I found these arches — I “shopped” online and forgot to make note of the source, but it was a single arch that I copied to make three in Photoshop.

If you want some inspiration for mixing lots of prints and patterns, visit my Pinterest board about mixing patterns. I’ve been debating how to give advice on mixing patterns. I put things together until they look pleasing to me (and I know what’s pleasing to me might not work for everyone!), like this patchwork pillow I made for our India apartment:

Finished Patchwork Pillow

But I’ve never put the process of how I mix patterns into words or conscious, planful thoughts. It might be interesting to try to get it all out of my mind, onto paper. I’m working on it!



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