How Many Fabrics & Patterns Should Be In A Room?

Is more always better? Is there a “right” number? Is this one of those secrets that explain why some rooms look layered and interesting, and they get on TV and in magazines, versus other rooms that make you go “eh”?

I was inspired by this post at Young House Love where Sarah Richardson‘s mind-boggling number of fabrics in a room inspired the Young House Love homeowner to look around her living room and count ’em up. She asked her readers to do so too, and vote their numbers. According to the results, most of her readers have 5-8 fabrics in their living rooms. Sarah Richardson’s number is 10-14, putting her at the top half of the range. Is this why her rooms are so interesting???

For you statistical nerds out there, visit the post and vote and see the results — you will see a classic bell curve!! As a student of human behavior, I am always fascinated by how so many of our actions follow this bell curve. Amazing. For my readers who haven’t had to be exposed to statistics (I gotta admit, learning statistics LITERALLY made my brain HURT but going through that pain changed my whole view of the world), visit and vote anyway and see where you are on the curve!

Our living room has 10 textiles, starting clockwise from where I sit now:

  • All around, quality custom curtains on four windows installed by our home’s previous owners. They’re nondescript beige damask patterned, so they don’t clash, and we didn’t have to buy them (there are eight, after all), so they work for me.
  • A map of Africa on silk hanging on the wall — it’s actually a Talbot’s scarf!
  • A wool throw with beige, paprika and black colors, found in a shop in Cochin, slung over the dark brown leather sofa.
  • Two different Lao woven textiles hanging on a wall that we found in Chiang Mai, Thailand in 2001. When we stopped in this lady’s little open air shop just off the edge of a road, we learned while talking with her that she was the supplier to a shop we had visited in Chicago where we saw these textiles and that’s what made us recognize hers — “hey, those are those things we liked!!” — 6+ billion people on this planet and it’s still a small world! Hers were much higher quality than most textiles in the Chiang Mai Night Market, but unfortunately on a 2005 visit, her shop wasn’t there anymore.
  • A huge rug from a far less exotic place, Home Decorators Collection. We needed numerous rugs when we bought our house, and after signing the mortgage papers, Home Decorators’ price was right. And they’re good — thus far they stood up to 7 years of near-daily use and our cats’ nails.
  • Two chairs with paprika and gold paisley patterned upholstery from the now-defunct Retrospect, which was run by Room & Board.
  • A pillow I hand-sewed with a piece of tres pricey striped jacquard textile made in India and bought in St. Paul, Minnesota. The colors in this single pillow inspired the entire room. This pillow will follow me forever. It has beige, gold, paprika and brown colors.
  • A coordinating brown/beige/paprika pillow with tiny metallic print found in the middle of an enormous pile of pillow covers in a shop in Chennai, India.
  • Dark brown velvet pillows. Great for attracting sticky white Maine Coon cat hair.

Does brown leather count toward the textile tally? If it does, that’s 11 for our living room.

Plus, houses don’t consist of living rooms only. Other rooms are often visible. Our  foyer rug by the front door can be seen from the living room and so can the bench with a cushion upholstered with vintage kimono textiles, and the dining room rug beyond. These were carefully chosen to not clash (but also not super matchy-matchy) with the living room because they’re all within view of each other.

Frankly no pics because everything’s a mess right now — there are power cords and a baseball cap among other junk on the living room coffee table! And 5-gallon buckets of paint sitting by the basement door waiting for a strong guy to haul them downstairs — don’t you sometimes wonder what rooms REALLY look like before they’re cleaned up for photos!?

So what do you think? How many textiles and patterns is ideal for a room?

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