“Design to create the life that you want… not the one you feel a need to change.” ~Clarice Smyth




Putting together colors and patterns within your decorating color scheme can feel scary, intimidating, and overwhelming. You do not have to let it make you feel this way… If you have a design plan and follow these simple guidelines.

“Life is full of patterns.”

Choose your boldest pattern first and then work your way to the solids. 

By choosing the boldest pattern first you can scale out from there in the size of the pattern motif. Example: floral, plaid, stripe, mini-dots, textured or mottled solid, and plain solids. 

If your boldest pattern is a large scale pattern then you can add additional patterns in complementary colors and hues, in descending scales. 

So you have chosen the large bold pattern, now choose the medium size pattern fabric. In addition to graduating the scale of the design, consider the design motif. It will need to complement the large bold pattern fabric but not compete.

Now that you have chosen the large and medium size fabrics, consider picking a stripe in a complementary scale. Many time the large and medium scale fabric tend to be organic or geometric in design and a stripe will add a bit of visual structure. 

A small overall pattern fabric can be added to the mix. These patters add visual interest but often read as a solid at a distance.

Textured fabrics are important and add color,  visual interest, and depth to a design without competing with all the other patterns. 

Select all of coordinating fabrics for your decorative scheme and bring them into the space they will be placed. Make sure you like the way these pattern and color look and feel before commissioning to have the furniture recovered or the cushions and drapes made. 

Know your fabric purpose and fiber content prior to planning placement, patterns, or calculating the yardage needed.

Knowing the pieces you are selecting fabric for and its use will ultimately determine the fabric that you will choose. 

Example: You have a sofa to reupholster, you need decorative pillows, and window coverings. You have chosen a chenille,  a twill, and a silk fabric. It is likely that you will use the chenille on the sofa, the twill for decorative throw pillows, and the silk for drapes. And although you can do as you please, fabrics are tested at different rub rates, which is a testing method that estimates the amount of wear a particular fabric can withstand. These are guidelines that designers use to help choose the best fabric for a given application.

It is common to place neutrals/solids on larger more expensive investment pieces. Unless you choose a fabric that you love and are willing to either live with for an extended period or willing to make the invest of reupholster when the trends change. Consider the options your choice  allows you to use in other  color accessories in the future. 

Choose your fabric inspiration, which may or may not become one of the final fabrics in your selection.

Choose fabric patterns in large, medium, small, solid, stripe, and texture.

Initially, pull all fabric choices, scale and color, based on the inspiration fabric.

Edit your final fabric selection based on the number of patterns you select and the number of needed applications.

Determine your long-term color and pattern preferences and this will save time and money in having to recover these pieces each time you want to update your space. 

It is less expensive to change out decorative pillows, drapes, rugs, and side chairs than it is to reupholster a sectional sofa. 


Thank you so much for visiting Clarice Smyth Design. I hope you found these tips helpful.

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Empowering you to Design Your Life.

Note: Fabric examples are from fabrics offered by Schumacher Fabrics




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