Tips and Guides

4 Ways to Mix Different Prints

Yes, it can be done!

Original Article: Kathleen Valle Photography: Vincent Coscolluela

It has somewhat been a convention that when you have a printed element, whether it’s you or your space who’s wearing it, you should pair it with something plain. While this is a safe combination, you can definitely spice it up by mixing prints with various other prints. Here are some tips on how you can do it: 

1. Start with a subtle mix.

If this is your first time to do a print-on-print combo, you might want to start with a toned down mix. Start with a neutral sofa, then throw in some pillows with simple patterns. If you want a printed backdrop but are afraid of going over-the-top, choose a patterned wallpaper in a neutral shade. 

2. Choose accessories that are unified either by color, shapes of patterns, or silhouettes.

You can decide on a color scheme and choose printed items based on that. Here in this setup, shades of blue are mixed with neutral colors like beige, gray, and white. The floral background also tie in with the ikat print on the throw. 

3. Experiment with more patterns.

Now that you’ve eased in to a print-on-print combination, it’s time to add more pieces to the mix. Add a printed accent chair in a color that goes with the rest of the elements in your vignette. In this setup, the lines on the accent chair do not clash with the geometric lines of the rug and one of the pillows. It also works well with the striped background, thanks to its red-orange color that is also seen in the background.

4. Get ready for a pattern frenzy (without going overboard, of course!)

As long as you have unifying elements in your setup, you need not worry. A lot of patterns and colors may be seen in this mix, but they all go together. The floral wallpaper echoes the floral patterns on the two pillows, while the geometric design of the throw tie in with the geometric-patterned pillow and rug. The apple green color of the wallpaper and shades of blue and yellow in the accessories also make for a pleasant combination. 

Read the original article ("Want Polka Dot With That") in the July 2011 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App. Log on to for more details.

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