Looking through photos of Kristin Nicholas’ home, you can’t help but feel a sense of happiness wash over you. Kristin, the author of Crafting a Patterned Home: Printing, and Stitching Projects to Enliven Every Room, has captured how bold patterns, one-of-a-kind textiles and bright colors can liven up your home without overwhelming your space. Following her eight tips below, you too will soon be able to incorporate colors and designs you once thought could never make an appearance in your home.
Kristin: When I first began learning to decorate, I was a bit fearful of mixing patterns together. I had seen it done in interior design magazines, but when it came to doing it myself, I wasn’t sure I could pull it off. Then I did what I always do, I jumped in and gave it a try. And that is what you should do too. Here’s an easy way to begin:
What do you want the room to feel like? How is the room going to be used? Is it a high-traffic hallway that is a conduit from one place to another? Is it going to be comfy and cozy? Is it going to be used just for good—for entertaining and show? Is it going to be used for eating and drinking and for throwing a party? Is it going to be used for sleeping? Is it a room for peace and perhaps meditation?
Think about the people who will be living in the space and using the room. Ask them what they like and don’t like. Think about what they do and how they live and work.
Whichever one you chose, use it to guide the design of the rest of the room. If you begin with a color, look for fabrics that you can use that will match the color, have the same color story, or have some of the color in it. Begin collecting fabrics and then decide on the color of the walls and the woodwork. Think about how the floors will be treated—covered with rugs, tiled, painted, or left as bare wood? Designing a room is an evolving process. A room will morph and change over the years as you add and subtract objects, but that is the fun of it.
3. Find a swatch of fabric that you really love, love, love.
We’ll call this the “love fabric”. Look for a bold print, a world textile, a patterned rug, or a colorful wallpaper. Bold and complex patterns will present more possibilities when you choose coordinating patterns. The piece of fabric does not have to be large; it could be an exotic textile from a faraway land that will become a pillow. NOTE: Most fabric retailers will give you small samples of fabrics that are helpful when designing a space. I find it helpful to purchase a half yard of a fabric that catches my eye and “live with it” in my space. That way I know if I really do love the fabric. A half yard is not a waste — it is enough for a pillow or two.
Let the colors in the fabric help you to determine the wall color or treatment (wallpaper or borders).
5. Look for a few more prints with colors that are similar to your “love fabric” and use them for your couch, chairs, curtains, and pillows.
Look for graphic choices such as a plaid or a check or a polka dot. It is good to pick patterns of different scale (bigness and smallness of a design). For instance, if you pick a huge plaid design, look for a smaller graphic pattern to mix in with the group. Find a solid fabric with a little bit of texture to add to the mix. It could be used to cover a couch or chair. The texture in the design will add some more pattern, albeit it a subtler one. Don’t worry about having the shades of colors in each fabric match exactly. It is more interesting if colors are a bit off. Less “matchy-matchy” will make a space look as if the room has evolved overtime and be more interesting in the end.
6. Look for some trims that pick up the colors.
Woven ribbons, pom-poms, braids, or fringe will add a bit of fun to any room. They can be added to solid-colored pillows, sewn on the borders of patterned pillows, or tacked to the edge of a curtain or the bottom of a chair.
7. Look for a floor covering that will work with both the walls and the furniture. Designing a room is like a giant art project. Instead of paints and brushes, fabrics, furniture, rugs, and more create your palette.
I live on a working sheep farm with dogs, cats, and farm animals. Choosing fabrics and colors for our home means that I have to find items that will stand up to constant wear. White doesn’t work in our home, but maybe it will in yours. Patterned textiles are the perfect choice for our lifestyle because they hide dirt and withstand a rugged life. Jacquard woven fabrics hide dirt very nicely. It is always a challenge to pick a fabric that will hold up for many years.
Each room in my house began in just this way. In my living room, I wanted to create a room that would stimulate conversation, be fun for entertaining, be cozy when knitting alone in front of the fire or intimate when reading a book or writing letters at the library table.
To create the room, I began with a color —a pretty gold color I saw in Italy—and then looked for things that could be added to create the feeling I was looking for. The room is very long so I broke it up into different spaces—a sitting area in front of the fireplace, a library area on the west end, and a hallway area.
My space is a large room that is full of patterns that do not match each other. By choosing things that have common colors and mixing them all together, I created an interesting environment. Rooms like this don’t happen overnight. It takes years of collecting and layering of patterns and objects to create such a space. That is the fun of decorating with patterns—adding new things when you find just the perfect fit.
Now that you’ve learned these tips from Kristin, it’s time to embark on your own mix & match journey! Whether it’s choosing bold designs inspired by Marrakesh, sticking to a color palette (we’re loving yellow these days), or recreating Kristin’s style using designs from her Spoonflower shop, we can’t wait to see how you transform your home.
About the Guest Blogger
Kristin Nicholas is an all-around creative artist who works with paint, yarn, thread, fabric, clay, and more. Throughout her work, her love of color and pattern is the cohesive element that gives the definitive style to her interior decoration, paintings, ceramics, and needlework. Kristin is an avid gardener, and her love of flowers and nature inspires much of her work. Her family’s 1751 farmhouse has been the canvas for her creative forays for the past twenty years.
Together they raise grass-fed lambs to feed the local community. Through her blog Getting Stitched on the Farm she shares their colorful lives on the farm. You can see more of her work on her website www.kristinnicholas.com.