Sunday, August 16, 2009

Patterns, Texture, and Proportions

"It always works out in the end, so if it hasn't worked out yet, then it isn't the end." Anonymous.

Texture, Pattern, and Proportion. After talking about color and trying to inspire you to get brave and try some new ideas in your home, I thought I'd have give a brief overview of what I understand from the world of pattern, texture and proportion.

Using Patterns and Textures. Discussing Proportion.

Patterns: Usually repetitive and emphasized by a selected color or series of colors. The more patterns you use, the smaller the room will appear, the less, the larger then obviously.

Textures: What adds texture? Throw blankets, pillows, and books in bookcases, collectibles, displayed possessions, baskets, paint, wall textures, lamp shapes and the weave of fabrics chosen. Avoid lots of mirrors as a way to emphasize textures as they tend to create a dated look.

Patterns and textures can be utilized to add character and pizzazz to an otherwise plain color scheme. First you have to pick a pattern. You can try collecting samples of patterns and textures in your design book or folder that appeal to you. Choose patterns and textures that you think will mesh with your overall plan. Although it seems that there are limitless possibilities and a daunting task, narrow it down your top three favorites. Then fall in love. Fall in love with the pattern and texture you want. You can also do this by picking out a piece of favorite furniture or buy a new sofa that has that pattern or texture you love. This can then become your focal point for the entire room and/or design scheme. In the sofa may be patterns, textures and/or colors you want to emphasize or find compliments for and design around. Often neglected, patterns and textures always serve an important function in decorating. Some are obvious; still others are not, but they still support your theme in subtle ways. Done correctly, patterns and textures will add depth and character to an otherwise plain scheme. Your choices in patterns and textures should reflect, support and emphasize your desired style statement.

Rules of Thumb:

Following these general rules, will help you to select patterns and textures that enhance any room. Always remember that many Patterns and textures directly affect proportion and therefore can have a big effect on how you see your room whether it is obvious or not.

  • Complex Patterns and Textures. Multiple image complex patterns and textures which use several colors, diagonals, intersecting or crossed/checkered lines are always bold and can be busy for the eye. They liven up large areas, but can easily be overwhelming for a small room.
  • Abstract Patterns and Textures. Additionally, to emphasize a unique space you may consider utilizing textured or patterned abstract optical illusions to make a setting dramatic. These often become a focal point or conversation piece so make sure to position these correctly.
  • Vertical Lines. Vertical lines will add height to a short room; conversely they add more height to a high ceiling.
  • Horizontal Lines. Horizontal lines will add space and width to an area.
  • Size and Scale. Remember the Size and Scale of your space. General rule of thumb, the larger the space, the larger the print, the smaller the space the smaller the print. Yet if done correctly, adding a large print to a small area can give you a feeling of grandeur.
  • Grouping and Repetition. The same grouping or repeated pattern used throughout an area can draw together a wide open plan. It will create a flow and sense of continuity. This can be done with color, texture, patterns, and proportions.
  • Colors. Colors often affect exactly how we see and perceive patterns. High contrast patterns with bold colors create an energetic feeling and colors close in value create a more subdued environment.
  • Texture. Texture will affect almost any color. Rough textures will absorb light while smooth textures will reflect light.
  • Context. Consider that a use of patterns can add interest and context to areas that lack architectural features. You also always want to consider the architecture of the home and reflect its positives. You certainly don’t want to decorate a Victorian style home with hard sharp ultra modern steel and glass features as it does nothing to compliment the uniqueness of the home.

Ways to use Patterns or Textures:

One Pattern or Texture. If you use a single pattern or texture on everything in a room, the walls, furnishings, floors, and accessories your room will be immersed in the very particular ambiance created by that pattern or texture, so be careful of overwhelming yourself with anything you won’t love for a long time. Traditionally pattern and texture decorating is done with a single pattern and texture matched against a solid background. For instance, a boring white flat walled room is given dramatic life by a series of brightly textured red upholstered chairs.

Mixing Patterns and Texture. Mixing various different colors, patterns, and textures can be a little tricky. You must always consider that you not only will need to both create harmony between all of the different colors, patterns, and textures, but also create a coherent contrast to give the space interest. This is tough to do and you may have to experiment with it a lot before you get to your final statement. It’s best to establish one main dominant pattern and texture that has a consistent color running through it, and let the others become submissive to act as support with that same color. Patterns and textures have an ability to create powerful feelings in a space so pay close attention to the ambience you are trying to create and make sure they support it. When done right, mixed patterns will make a room feel smaller and create a “hyggelig” or cozy feeling. Area rugs are a great way to add dimension and underscoring of an established pattern or texture.


Proportion is of course, size. It is important to remember that color directly affects a room’s proportion in a visual sense. A general guide line is white or pale colors make objects seem smaller or recede and makes them seem further apart, while dark or bright colors draw things closer which makes them appear larger. You can use this and other tricks to create your ideal environment. Consider that your ratio’s in a rooms d├ęcor should be matched accordingly. Consider how things relate in a room and match proportions or ratio’s accordingly. Whether you decide to paint, use accessories or use furnishings, keep these eye fooling properties of how color affects proportion in mind as they apply universally to any medium.

  • Lighter recedes,
  • Darker draws in!

It works with every and any design style and can be applied not only to fabrics, but also to furniture, lamps, or accessories. A good way to consider proportion is for instance pairing a 2 seat loveseat with a 3 seat sofa. The pairing of three vases of varying heights instead of one solo piece sitting by its lonesome will allow the proportional relationship to be in harmony instead of feeling disjointed. Improper proportion throws things out of balance and results in room feeling like it does not flow properly. By definition, proportion is defined as the balanced relationship of all the parts to the whole, either visual or structural. If you want to learn more about proportions in furniture design check out this article:

“When we talk about proportions, we are talking about the relationship of two dimensions - usually height to width.” That seems to be a good rule of thumb. See this article regarding this idea:

In conclusion, select samples or pictures of designs, patterns, textures, colors, proportions and the like that appeal to you and keep them in your design book to include in your plan. Your plan may be altered over time for a final statement or it may constantly evolve. Evolving your plan can be a good thing because it will consistently reflect the living arrangements that you most currently desire and help to compliment your life to make you feel at home and comfortable. When completed, your patterns, textures and proportions will highlight the focal points in your design and help to support your theme. They will add interest and allow you to connect your broader theme throughout your home. Have fun and enjoy expressing yourself. Next time lets talk about Harmony.