Upholstery Fabric Patterns

Choosing Patterns

Design schemes are often referred to as color schemes, but there are two other ingredients that are every bit as important as color and without which a scheme lacks depth and interest. It is by the skilful use of pattern and texture that a scheme will be brought to life and given an extra dimension.

Pattern has been used for thousands of years – to decorate dwellings, objects and people – and many of the designs developed in primitive times are still with us today. One of the most beneficial qualities of pattern is that it can be utilized to suggest a given period or style. Flamestitch, for instance, is particularly associated with the Tudor period, a paisley pattern might suggest the continent of India, and ‘jazz’ designs effectively evoke memories of Art Deco style,

For the lazy decorator, pattern is a godsend. Designers of wallpapers, fabrics and carpets spend endless time on perfecting color and pattern combinations. The end results are what you find available on the market. Why not tap into their skills and take your lead from the colors that they have deemed go together well?

Try assembling samples of materials that pick out the individual colors featured in your chosen patterned fabric and you will be surprised how quick and easy it is to muster a scheme.

Practice will make you much more adept at forming schemes and you may find the following tips useful:

By choosing two dominant patterns of the same scale you will find that they “fight” each other for your attention. Instead, go for patterns of varying scales. Start by choosing one main large pattern, then find medium- and small-scale ones to complement this and fill in with plain colors.

As a general rule the best results are achieved by arranging for the largest areas (walls, floor, curtains) to take on the largest-scale patterns and the smaller items correspondingly smaller patterns.

Always view patterns from the distance at which they will be seen in the room. By holding a sample a suitable distance from a mirror you will the right effect. Remember that small patterns viewed from some way away will merge and appear plain.

Curtain fabric samples are best viewed with the light behind them rather than facing the light. This will give a better representation of how the material will appear when hung at a window.

Can’t find a fabric, wallpaper or carpet that appeals to you? Consider commissioning one in the pattern and colorway of your choice. Several companies specialize in custom-making materials to the wishes of their clients. You will probably be charged a sum for color and pattern trials and you may be required to order a minimum amount, but this should not be onerous and the rewards of personally designing your own materials are immense.

When using several patterns in one room, you will find that they work best when linked. Choose patterns with colors, themes, motifs or textures in common.

You may wish to place several differently colored existing possessions in the same room. To make these appear to ‘belong’ together, find a patterned fabric that includes the colors of the furnishings you already have and you will find that they will be drawn together by the color links.

When selecting a patterned curtain fabric, it is a good idea to obtain a large sample and drape this in folds as it will appear when made up. You will be surprised how this gathering process can distort patterns – usually in an acceptable way, but not always.