3 Tips for Mixing Patterns

I love mixing and blending materials. Woods. Stones. Natural Textures. Metals. But one of my all time favorite materials to mix is patterned textiles. Pattern is one of the elements of design and can add richness and depth to any room. Layering and mixing patterns can create a really luxurious look, but it’s important to keep a few “rules” in mind so that the overall effect is harmonious.

 


Tip #1: Three is a Magic Number

There really is something magical about the number three when it comes to interior design. I think designers are drawn to it because of the golden proportion, but in general it just works! When it comes to mixing any material types, you should limit the mix to three. This also applies to patterns. My advice is two or three patterns. You also want a certain amount of pattern repetition. If you are using a particular pattern in a room, you will want to see it at least 3 times. This will make the pattern mix feel intentional and not haphazard, giving the space a curated look rather than a “thrown together” look.

A stripe, geometric, and paisley in warm and cool neutrals mix well. What makes it a good combination?

 


Tip #2: I’ll Have One of Each… And Only One!

This is probably the most important rule. You need to select only one of each pattern type. For example, You do not want to put 2 large floral prints in the same space or two plaids or two bold geometric patterns. Doing so would cause too much visual competition between the various patterns and could create a chaotic look. Instead try using only one of each pattern type. Mix-master and celebrity designer Anne-Marie Barton recommends mixing one floral, one plaid/stripe, and one geometric. That is an excellent guideline, but I think you can expand on it a little to create more exotic and bold pairings. I’m also on board with treating stripes and plaids as separate categories and mixing them with each other. This is something we see all the time in the clothing industry.

This large damask and small geometric combination bring old world and contemporary together.

 

Nonetheless, textile patterns have some general categories: florals, stripes, plaid, geometric, abstract, paisley, animal, etc. You can further break them down into small, medium, and large/bold, so small floral and large floral, small geometric and large geometric, etc. My best advice is to choose one (and only one) large or bold pattern. The rest of your patterns should be smaller scale. So, if you select a large floral pattern, and you are following the guidelines, you would select a smaller scale plaid, and an even smaller geometric print to accompany it.

This bold combination brings together an animal print, an Ikat, and a nubby stripe in warm autumnal tones.

 


Tip #3: Keeping It in the Family

Keep it in the color family, that is! When you mix patterns, there should be something about the patterns that ties them together. Thinking about the qualities of a pattern, you have size, shape, and color. I’ve already advised you to use different sizes and shapes, so the one remaining element is color. Each pattern should share a common color with another pattern to create some repetition and harmony. Again, this will make the pattern match look intentional and give the space a cohesive look.

However, each pattern doesn’t have to share the exact shade of Kelly green or Goldenrod. For example, the embroidered  floral pictured below has a sage-y green, a warm, deep pink, and a golden beige. I mixed it with a small abstract dotted golden beige print and a medium sized geometric in a warm, deep pink.

The small dotted print and classical geometric pull the warm brick color and golden beige from the embroidered floral print.

 

What kinds of prints will you try mixing in your home? Still feeling unsure about how to do it? Schedule your Design Style Consultation with  Paradigm Interiors here.

Should I Re-Upholster or Buy New?

Should I re-upholster or buy new?

It is decided. You’re going to remodel your downstairs. You’ve been living in the 90’s for way too long. You want a whole new look: new kitchen, new window treatments, new powder room, new color scheme, new furniture…

On second thought, wait… I really love that sofa and those chairs are classic and if I just re-upholstered them then it might shave a few bucks from the project…

Maybe. Maybe not. Re-upholstering a piece of furniture can be a great idea if you are doing it for the right reasons. I am always for anything that keeps old sofas out of our ever expanding landfills. However, re-upholstering your favorite sofa isn’t always the best move. First of all, your beloved sofa may not be a great candidate for re-upholstery. Secondly, it may not save you a lot of money. Upholstery work and upholstery fabric can be quite expensive. If, your sofa or chair isn’t of sufficient quality, then no amount of fabric will extend its life. It can be hard to assess the quality of a piece of furniture when it’s covered in textiles. Determining if re-upholstery is a good option (or not) can be quite the design dilemma.

So, how do designers decide which pieces are fit for re-upholstery?  These are a couple of the things that help me decide if re-upholstering a piece is a sound option.

Custom Sofa by Lee Industries

 

The 3 C’s of Re-upholstery:

 

Coils (& cushions). The first thing I do is attempt to assess the quality of the piece. I start by sitting on it. Seems like a no-brainer, but if there’s too much movement in the piece, then it’s probably not structurally stable and should not be re-upholstered. I walk around the piece and wiggle it. Does it move from side to side? Do all the legs sit evenly on the floor? If there’s too much lateral movement or if the legs are loose and don’t sit evenly, it’s probably not a good candidate. I remove any unattached cushions and rub my hand across the back and seat to feel the spring system. If the springs seem high and tight and aren’t sunken, then re-upholstery might be possible. I l will try to lift the piece to see underneath. I also check the quality of the decking, which is usually a neutral or plain piece of canvas or other sturdy material that covers the spring system. This can give an idea of the overall quality and condition of the structures that support the seat.

Then, I will attempt to examine the underside of the seat. This should be covered in a thin neutral colored cloth called a dust cover. If the client is ok with me taking a peek, using a staple remover, I will pull away part of the dust cover and try to get a look at the springs (coils) from the underside. It can be stapled back in place when I am done. If I see eight way hand-tied springs, this is a great sign. If the eight-way hand tied system is in good shape, then re-upholstering is an option. Sinuous springs, not so much, but a lot depends on the age of the sofa and the condition of the springs, though most seating with sinuous springs won’t be a good candidate for re-upholstery.

The last thing I do is look at the quality of the cushions. This can be accomplished by unzipping the cushions and taking a peek. If The cushions can be re-filled, but high quality sofas will often have an inner coil cushion that is kind of like a little mattress. If the cushions are in good shape and can be re-used, then re-upholstering is a safer bet.

Eight-way Hand Tied Springs

 

CustomizationThe question here is can you find the sofa you love in the fabric you want. If you want a fabric that doesn’t come on a sofa you can buy in a store, then re-upholstering is probably a good idea, if you meet the quality criteria. Also, if you had a custom sofa with a shape you loved or that specifically fit an area in your home, like a curved sofa, then re-upholstery might be a good option. This is especially true if the custom sofa is still in great condition.

So what should you do if you want a specific fabric and love the shape and size of your current sofa, but the sofa you want isn’t in great condition? Have a custom replica made. A designer who has access to custom upholstery furniture manufacturers can help you place an order for a high quality sofa that meets your needs.

With Re-upholstery, fabric choices are nearly endless!

 

Cost. If you’re primary reason for re-upholstering a sofa is to save money, you might want to reconsider. It’s not always less expensive to re-upholster. The cost of labor to re-upholster can vary, but it’s pretty consistent among most upholsterers. You can usually expect to spend between $700-1500 for basic re-upholstery labor of a full sized sofa.

If you are re-upholstering a custom sofa that cost $3000+ upon purchase or a cherished heirloom, then re-upholstery will likely be less than buying a new sofa of the same quality and customization. However, a lot depends on the quality, condition, and size of the sofa, and the fabric you select. If any foam needs to be replaced or anything needs to be repaired, the cost will increase. Upholstery fabric can range in cost from $40-50/yard up to $400-500+ per yard. Most sofas require 18-25 yards of fabric, depending on whether the pattern has a print and how large the print is. You could spend thousands of dollars on the print alone. It’s easy to see how those costs can add up, making re-upholstery more a labor of love than a budget friendly option.

In the end, the decision to re-upholster requires a lot of information and careful decision making. What has your experience been with re-upholstering?

If you’re ready to re-decorate a space and want to include re-upholstering a cherished piece of furniture, contact Paradigm Interiors for your complementary Design Plan Consultation (click here).

 

Good Design Takes Time

The design process is tedious. Well, up front it’s exciting. It goes something like this:

  1. You hire your designer. It’s so exciting. He/she has fantastic ideas.
  2. You get your drawings and boards and you can just see the magazine perfect home of your dreams taking shape.
  3. You get the proposal and after your done choking a little bit at the price tag, you decide it’s totally worth it and you press the “go” button
  4. Then… it’s a lot…of…waiting…
  5. ..and..more waiting…
  6. You feel abandoned, but you’re still getting bills from the designer!!
  7. You start wondering, “Why is this taking so long!!”

I’m not sure if anyone has ever used the exact words, “Why is this taking so long,” but heaven knows it’s been written on the face of every single client with whom I have worked, even when I think I’ve set pretty good expectations of how the process works. Nonetheless, the process is slow and there is a period of time where it feels like it will never end.

It does end and when the final reveal happens its always well worth the wait, but let’s look at the top three reasons interior design projects take so darn long…

Great Room Project by Paradigm Interiors

Reason #1: People, people who need people are the slo-oh-west people in the world…

Isn’t that how the song goes? No? Well, it should be. Most interior design projects involve multiple trades and craftsmen. The more human hands that need to touch your project, the longer it’s going to take because there is a lot of coordination involved. Let’s take a great room (kitchen, family room, breakfast nook) remodel for example. If we were to do a full kitchen remodel, wall coverings, window treatments, lighting, furnishings, and accessories, then there will be no less than 10 different groups of professionals and no less than 10-15 vendors involved in the project. For example, the designer (pro #1) will work with the following trade pros:

  1. Contractor/carpenter to install the cabinets, backsplash, and any flooring
  2. Plumber
  3. Counter surface installer
  4. Electrician
  5. Painter
  6. Wall covering installer
  7. Window treatment work room (at least one)
  8. Window treatment installer
  9. Receiving and delivery warehouse
  10. Her design assistant or a handyman

For every trade, there is usually a vendor to work with who will supply equipment. In this case, those would be:

  1. Cabinet vendor
  2. Appliance vendor
  3. Tile vendor
  4. Counter vendor
  5. Paint vendor
  6. Lighting vendor
  7. Art Vendor(s)
  8. Accessories vendor(s)
  9. Fabric Vendor(s)
  10. Furniture Vendor(s)

With me those last three are likely to be numerous because I pull from many sources for my designs, which gives every room a rich, curated look.

Accent wall covering and custom cabinet give some texture to an otherwise boring wall

Reason #2: Follow my lead

Lead times are the amount of time between ordering a product and delivery. Lead times vary depending on how high-end and custom the products are. Typically, cabinets and custom furniture have the longest lead times, which is usually 4-8 weeks. Other furniture can take a week or two, but when purchased wholesale, as most designer do, the furniture makes a pit stop at a receiving warehouse. Delivery of all of the furniture will be scheduled for one day. Therefore, if you have a mix of custom and non-custom furniture, all of your furniture will be delivered after everything arrives. And forget it if something comes damaged! That extends your lead time by at least 2 weeks. 

Then, there is a systematic order to completing the project. It begins with the design process, the exciting part, and goes into the demolition and construction phases. The demolition happens first, which can’t happen until the cabinets have arrived and been inspected. Then, the rebuild of the kitchen, which will include the electrical and plumbing work. The final pieces of the kitchen remodel are the installation of the counter and then the backsplash. After the remodeling portion is complete, the painters will paint the entire great room area and the wall coverings can be installed. Finally, the furniture, rugs, art and accessories can be installed.

If any one of these pieces is delayed, the whole project goes off course.

This gorgeous fully custom sofa took about 8 weeks from order date to delivery.

Reason #3: Stuff Happens

Murphy’s law, right? When you have this many humans working on a project together, stuff is just going to happen. And I know you know what “stuff” I mean…

I have yet to work on a project where everything was perfect. I listen to the podcasts of top notch multi-million dollar a year designers who’ve been in business for 30 years and you know what they say? Stuff happens. Stuff happens on every project. Even with a sound design process, stuff happens.

Sometimes trade pros have conflicts so they can’t show up on schedule. Sometimes they have to back out of the job. Items show up damaged. Colors don’t turn out right. Vendors don’t put the correct information on an item. Warehouses lose things. Stuff happens, but in the end everything gets done, maybe not on the anticipated timeline, but they’re done and the end result is beautiful.

The best I can do is hold my clients’ hands through the process, reassure them, and try to give them the best experience even with all the “stuff” that can happen.

Let me know when you want to set up your Style Discovery Phone Consultation or In-Home Consultation and see what kind of wonderful stuff we can make happen!

Is That a Trend or a Classic? Matte Brass/Gold

My Client: “Wow! I just saw the most amazing kitchen! It had navy blue cabinets, marble countertops, white subway tile and gorgeous matte brass accents… I love those gold toned accents, but do you think that’s too trendy?”

Me: “uuuuuummmmm…” head scratch, reads clients face carefully, “maaaaaaybe…”

 

A gorgeous blue and gold kitchen by Marie Flanigan Interiors in Houston, TX

 

Seriously, I walk a very fine tightrope between not offending my clients and telling them the truth. That usually means that I have to suppress my inner Julia Sugarbaker and stop myself from railing about the virtues of timeless, classic design. That is my design philosophy. Build the design with a foundation of timeless classic pieces and add bits of color and trend like sprinkles and the cherry on top of a sundae. I work to help my clients identify on a deep level what their personal aesthetic is. We work together to identify their core style, which trends are resonating with them, and how we can create a unique look using this information.

When I get a request that is filled to the brim with trend, I hit my internal pause button.

To set the record straight, I don’t think marble counters are ultra trendy. Nor do I think subway tiles are trendy. In fact, history tells us that they are very classic looks. Also, don’t misunderstand, I also LOVE the look I’m describing. However, navy blue cabinets and brass fixtures are BOLD choices. Most people would get tired of looking at them day after day. Then, they go into “I HATE this mode”. If you have money to spend re-vamping your kitchen every time you become overwhelmed or bored, then go for it! If you live in a different demographic, my advice is choose one trend that is inexpensive and easy to reverse.

In this case, that item would be the brass fixtures. Although drawer pulls, lighting, and plumbing fixtures are not inexpensive, especially not the new gold toned finishes, they are less expensive and easier to replace than cabinets.

Looking to the past always gives us an idea of what has staying power and what is trendy. In that case silver tones rule, particularly for plumbing fixtures. As we look back in time, the gold tones come and go, but the silver tones seem to be a constant. As hardware for doors and lighting, brass finishes have some staying power, typically the flat or brushed finishes have had a little more staying power. We’ve seen gold tones come and go throughout the American Colonial, Victorian, Art Nouveau, and Art Deco periods. The last time brass and gold tones were popular was in the 1980’s and that time around nearly ruined the Baby Boomer and Gen Xers taste for gold metals because that round of brass was somehow extra brass-y… and extra offensive. Alas, 80’s nostalgia is back – music, movies, fashion, television – and with it come the gold tones!

 

The 1980’s brass we all love to hate!

 

So, my verdict? TREND

…But, its a good trend, a fun trend that you can implement in small doses and enjoy until it fades. I’m going to give you three tips for incorporating it into your kitchen or bath.

Tip #1: Mix It Up

Right now it’s totally cool to mix metals, so you can add some lovely brass accent lighting to your chrome and stainless kitchen metals. The key is keeping everything balanced. If you add just one gold toned piece, like a matte brass faucet you’ll want to add some accessories in the same tone. You can use a brass toned basket or possibly a multi- brass tiered tray on your counter for a fruit display. Ideally, you’d want to repeat the color a minimum of three times to create harmony.

Gold mixes well with stainless in this beautiful kitchen by Elizabeth Laws Design in Baltimore.

 

Tip #2: Light Up the Night

Use your lighting fixtures as your brass accent. In the picture below the designer has only used the brass color in the lighting, but the lighting fixtures are large enough to make a substantial contribution to the room. You can also use the above tip to round out the distribution of the color into your accessories if you like. However, the lighting alone is enough to make sense.

Gold lighting provides a delightful accent in this kitchen remodeled by Advanced Renovations in Charlotte, NC and photographed by Jim Schmid.

 

Tip #3: Get a Handle on It

Do just your door hardware – knobs, handles, and pulls – in a gold tone metal. This will be enough repetition to give a cohesive look, and again, it makes sense to just do these items as a stand alone metal. You can see that the designer only used the gold color in the hardware and used traditional stainless and chrome where they are appropriate. It looks fantastic. Hardware is relatively inexpensive, it can be easily switched out when you get tired of the gold, but they make a big overall impact.

 

Matte Brass drawer pulls really add some zing to these navy blue drawers.

 

Do you think you’ll try the matte brass/gold tone metal trend? You can shop the look here and here.

Are you still confused about how to add the look into your next project? Schedule your Design Style Discovery Consultation here.

By the way, none of these GORGEOUS kitchens are work that I have done. I am providing links to the source for each of these under the image. The boards are mine though and feel free to shop the look!