Banish the beige! Yes a neutral palette can be pleasing but for many homeowners, it can be a bit boring, so adding a pop of color is common. But maybe it’s time to break out of the box and add some prints to your room, and not just a with a pillow or your window treatment. How about a piece of furniture in a full-on print that says “wow”? When it comes to furniture decorating with prints can be fun and adds a lot of interest to a room. Just one piece of printed furniture can enliven a ho-hum living space. Designers have created lots of options that go far beyond big florals and that old 70’s plaid.
Some people are afraid of using prints, especially more than just one because they’re not sure how to work around them or how to successfully combine them. It’s time to experiment because the mixing of prints in fashion and home décor is not going away. It you’re toying with the idea of adding or increasing the printed patterns in your interiors, there are a few guidelines that can help you create a cohesive look that you love.
Tips to add the wow home decor factor
Moderation is Key
Just as in anything, moderation is key. Just because mixed prints are a successful décor strategy, it doesn’t mean that you can just jumble prints together, or use a different print on every element in the room. Too many different prints – even if they are of different scales – can make the room seem like an eclectic mess at best.
Let the Pattern Be Your Guide
If you’ve chosen a dominant piece, such as a patterned sofa or armchairs with a bold floral print, let it be your guide to how you decorate the rest of the room. Draw from the colors in the print to pull together a palette for the rest of the space, from the walls to the rug to the accessories. It certainly doesn’t have to feel matchy-matchy, but the overall look should be complementary.
Mix and Match Patterns
One major dominant pattern does not rule out including other prints in the room. Mixing patterns seems to be the most unnerving for most people but it doesn’t have to be. The key is to keep the scale of the prints in mind. For example, if your main piece has a large-scale print, the other elements should have a small or medium-scale print to avoid competing. Finally, when in doubt follow this basic advice: Use one floral, one geometric pattern and one stripe.
Aim for Balance
Balancing the look of a room with mixed prints can be more challenging if there are lots of colors in play. Those new to mixing prints may find success by keeping to a neutral, monochrome palette for the prints. It’s a good idea to follow the advice above for mixing and matching, but if you’re unsure, play it safe from the perspective of color because the mis of prints will create interest.
Big Graphic Florals Are a Statement
Any big, graphic floral is going to be the statement-making print in the room. This is what you have to work around with the other prints you add, and it’s especially true if you are using a statement-making wall covering. Even small pieces with bold florals will automatically draw the eye, so keep that in mind as you plan your prints.
Animal Prints Go With Everything
Over the decades, animal prints have evolved from a questionable element one that is often considered a go-with-anything element in fashion and decor. That said, they may not immediately come to mind when planning prints for a particular room, but there are now so many versions of animal prints – both realistic and fanciful – that they truly can be a versatile option.
Choosing an upholstered piece where the experts have already mixed prints for you is a great option, especially when it comes to bold colors. This gorgeous chair, designed by a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology, already includes several complimentary prints. In fact, you can see how it mixes an abstract pattern with a floral and the stripes on the legs and piping accent.
A strong graphic in black and white is always a grand base for adding more prints to a room. Illulian’s geometric rug plays on perspective in its design and would be an excellent starting point for adding florals and other geometric patterns. Bold black and white elements are also easy to mix with vibrantly colored pieces in general.
Mixed up Mosaic created this beautiful bench in a slightly abstract floral pattern that is easy to add to an existing space. It’s bold but not big, so there’s still an opportunity to add another pattern that is more dominant. Moreover, this bench demonstrates that upholstery and wall coverings are not the only options for adding prints to a room.
Here’s a modern example of the classic print combination: The wallpaper is a subtle floral, the seat of the bench is an abstract geometric and the back of the bench is a bold word print. At first glance, they might not seem like complementary patterns, but when united by the bold orange wall, they coalesce into a fabulous space.
Another pair of prints that initially seem like odd partners — the big tropical leaf pattern on the walls and the rather traditional textile used to upholster the chaise — actually work well together The scale of the two prints is very different, but the accent colors in the pineapples on the wall pick up the center of the motif on the chaise. The vivid floral cushion adds a jarring accent that makes the space pop.
This bedroom has a lot going on but as a whole, it is a restful and serene space even though it’s chock full of printed fabrics. The canopy sports the dominant print, but even so, the colors are subdued and the size of the pattern is modest. It’s accompanied by two other main prints – the pale green gingham drapes and the traditional striped settee at the end of the bed. The colors are all pale or muted, which means they blend almost as easily as neutrals would.
The sofa is the centerpiece of your living room or family room and choosing upholstery that is bold, colorful or graphic will make a statement. That said, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. If you’re not experienced in mixing prints, choose just one printed piece for your living space. It can be enough to transform the entire room.
Opting for an unusual shape can also boost the interest of a piece. Go ultra-modern or choose a softer contemporary sofa shape that differs from the standard offerings. Try placing a design-forward, printed sofa in a space like a larger bedroom, sitting area or den for a different feel. This is Adrenalina’s Soft Machine sofa.
A love seat is also a good option for when you want to add a bold piece of printed furniture. Covering both a sofa and a love seat in a fabric like this floral might harken back to your great-grandmother’s living room. Instead, pair a smaller, boldly upholstered piece of furniture with contemporary neutral pieces and you’ll have a very appealing combination. A good start is this Marquise Gondole L. XV from Moissonier.
A traditionally shaped, tufted leather sofa can easily sport a print. Even in black and white, this toile could be overwhelming on such a large piece of furniture. Instead, try covering only part of the sofa for a more modest look, like this from Bella Rustica Home. By using this type of print only on the tops of the seat cushions, it updates a stodgier leather piece, giving it a modern twist while maintaining a traditional feel.
Sometimes the print will dictate how best to upholster the piece. While this high-backed bench from Spini Interiors could easily be done in a bold print because of its slim style, this palm frond upholstery fabric takes on added drama when used only on the back and cushions. A set of solid-colored pillows breaks up the pattern and makes it easy to swap out the secondary pop of color.
Cupboards and Credenzas
These days, prints are not limited to upholstered pieces. Designers are dressing up all types of pieces with prints, patterns and colors. From soft floral garlands to bold geometries, each piece is a fantastic way to make a space pop.
Boca do Lobo’s glossy Pixel cabinet looks like a mosaic done in bold colors. The compact sized piece sits atop a sculptural gold base that incorporates round lines that play against the overall angular feel.
Abstract designs are another option for printed furniture. Done in neutral tones, this style may appeal to those who want to incorporate a printed piece, but for whom bold and bright is too much. A credenza like this from Atelier Moba definitely catches the eye but in a more subtle fashion.
Exotic tile patterns and a Moroccan flair can bring a basic piece to life. While the tile patterns are traditional, their use on cabinets is more novel. Multicolored printed pieces like these can be used to refresh a stale space of almost any decor style. These pieces are from Galleon Industries.
In a new twist in traditional style Portuguese tile, Boca do Lobo created this amazing piece that uses the tiles in a totally different way. The soft blue and white palette is easy to incorporate and can be played down for a more subtle look or, as in this setting, played up with a dramatic mirror.
Painted furniture is another way to add pattern to your room. This Steven Shell dresser has a geometric, harlequin-like pattern that is done in bold shades of earthier tones. As with most printed pieces, the setting in which you place it will determine how big of a statement it will make.
For a more feminine feel, a floral motif can dress up a basic white piece of furniture. Here, the unique design is like a painting and spans the entire front of the dresser.
Tables and Desks
Tables and desks are a little more of a novelty for printed furniture. Of course, tables are perfect for trying out a print, especially if it’s a occasional table that can easily be moved to another room if desired.
A home office will get a real upgrade with a metallic zebra print like this one. The organic shape of the top, paired with two different styles of beautiful legs will up the glam factor. The dramatic desk is best paired with a more sedate chair.
The dining room is a perfect place for patterns and prints, which usually come in the form of upholstered chairs. An amazing table like this, however, is a stunning centerpiece, with its geometric black and white top, accented with gold studs at the bottom edge. Spain’s Epoca Luxury Furniture paired the striking table with elegant but understated dining chairs.
If a table is too much, there’s always the option of a printed cupboard like this one from Boffi. The ikat-style print is not typically found on wood furniture. Paired with a solid, understated table, it’s possible to add chairs covered in a matching fabric without being overwhelming.
Probably the most common piece to be done up in a print is a chair. Pick a pattern next time you buy a chair or, reupholster a favorite piece you already own. If it has a good shape, fits your space and is comfortable, it’s a good candidate for an overhaul. It’s easier to go bold with chairs because you can add a solid pillow or throw to tone down the print. Or, move it to another room if the color palette works there.
Mod and retro prints work well on chairs and ottomans. An earthy range of colors keeps the Antonella Armchair by DOMEdizioni from being too over-the-top.
The unstructured shape of these upholstered sections lends itself to the slightly bohemian style of the fabric. The stylized floral motif in an off-white on the blue background has a relaxed feel that suits the style of the pieces.
Bold geometric patterns are great for chairs as well. Just one piece like this chair from Elledue Arredamenti in a bold orange makes a strong statement and blends well with a neutral palette as shown here. A small seating area would take on an added dimension with the addition of this chair — or even a pair!
A more formal chair style can also put on a print. Pairing a fanciful frame style with the wild flame-print upholstery makes for a daring and dramatic piece that has far more character than it would if covered in a solid or more conservative fabric. Excellent as a desk chair, it would also be an extravagant choice for an entire set of dining chairs.
Sometimes a bold print rendered in black and white is the answer to a design dilemma. This Erba club style armchair is deep and comfy, with a relaxed attitude that is enhanced by the tropical print. If the design were colorful, it would be a more energetic piece. Black and white pieces like this are the perfect foil for a bright colored cushion or throw.
More subtle prints can also help upgrade chairs. This pair, upholstered in a sophisticated tan, features organic bands of a darker shade that look like sand or clouds on a landscape. The neutral hue makes it easy to work these into an existing set of furniture. The shape of these two chairs is particularly interesting as a pair.
Missoni is known for its prints and at the 2017 Salone Del Mobile in Milan, the brand showed off its home decor fabrics, covering chairs in a variety of shapes and styles. How the different prints work with the various shapes of the chairs is very interesting.
Even a dining chair in a basic shape takes on new panache with the addition of printed upholstery fabric. These would be stylish in a kitchen or casual dining room.
Ottomans are also good candidates for being rendered in a print for all the same reasons that a chair is. They can be paired with existing chairs and are just as easily moved to new spots in the same room or to another room entirely.
For fans of one-of-a-kind designs, chairs are the perfect piece to sport an artful cover. This one, by Sergio Villa Mobil Italy is hand-painted. Depending on your space, often the back of a chair gets more viewing than the front, providing a perfect opportunity for embellishing the outside of the chair and leaving the cushions plain.
Subtle prints also add interest and are often easily paired with printed wallpapers, rugs and other items. Here, comfortable upholstered club chairs are done in an understated floral on a light background, Quietly elegant, they convey more personality than plain upholstery does.,
Mid-century style chairs can take on new life when upholstered in a print — a more modern one that is. This geometric print includes a pop of turquoise that adds some modern flair to the neutral fabric. The print also adds to the textural feel of the chair, from Sigmal2.
A set of basic living room armchairs with a curved back are upholstered in a lively zig-zag print by Smania. The bright yellow plays against the other tones, which are more subdued. Elegant but bolder than a traditional choice, these are a modern way to add printed chairs to a more conservative space.
Far from conservative, this modern take on a wing chair from Soft Line features not only thin metal legs but also wild and funky upholstery. Not only a pop of color, this chair adds a real jolt of pizzazz to a room.
Equally dramatic, this wing chair shows how neutral tines in a bold graphic can make a very big statement in a space. The white and black shapes along with the earth-toned stripes are very attractive and a modern counterpoint to the weathered legs.
For those who are more timid about using bod prints, stools are a perfect option. Not only are they portable, but they are an easy and more inexpensive way to audition prints for your living spaces. These wonderful mixed print stools from Miho Unexpected Things are colorful and would be perfect in a neutral toned country chic room.
Prints on large accessories are yet another option of adding dimension to decor. The colors are not wild, but animal prints are a good way to incorporate a graphic piece into a room. It’s a neutral item and would work well with other prints and colors.
Options abound and are limited only by your comfort level. To create a room with personality, mix prints, colors and shapes to your heart’s content, as long as the result is within the realm of what makes you comfortable. As with any other aspect of design, you live with it so you have to like it.