In last week’s Big Style, Small Space post, NYC interior designer Austin Varner discussed how to make the most of your space in a small or studio-style apartment. This week, she gives advice on something us Minkettes can never get enough of: pattern. Just like fashion, there is an art to how one wears and mixes patterns to achieve that perfect harmony of color and intrigue without overwhelming the look. According to Austin, the same goes for your home – see below for her tips on the three “Ps”: palette, pattern and proportion.
When people think of small spaces, they think of limits. Limits to what they can fit in a space and how they can decorate it. To some, a smaller space means less color, less pattern, and less fun! I am here to tell you that, much like in the fashion world, any size space (or person) can rock bright colors and multiple patterns, they just need to be shown how. Here are some guidelines for how to create a colorful and playful space without overwhelming it.
The color palette you choose for your home is just as important as the one you choose for your wardrobe. It must be a combination of colors that express your personal style, while simultaneously creating the mood you wish to live in everyday. For this space, I took the client’s love of purple and lime green and anchored them with black and white accents. It is important to remember that you don’t have to use your “colors” absolutely everywhere. Mixing neutrals, such as black and white, with your colors will allow them to pop even more and will keep you from tiring of them. A great way to do this is with the larger pieces in your room. As you can see, I have chosen a solid white sofa and a black and white rug. Having these neutrals allows me to play with the wall color (a light grey with lavender undertones) and other fabrics in the room. Another thing to keep in mind is what we like to call “combo” fabrics. When using multiple colors in a room, it is important to find at least one fabric that contains all of your colors. As you can see, I chose such a fabric for both the window treatment and the ottoman. This will allow you to maintain a sense of consistency in the midst of all of the color. The goal is to emphasize color, not to let it take over.
When working with patterns in a small space, it is important to choose “like” patterns – this allows for you to compliment one pattern with another, without it looking too busy. In this apartment, we chose to go with geometric prints. While I used six different patterns in this room, they all have similar lines and complement one another. They key is to avoid choosing prints that compete. Here, I focused on prints with some kind of diamond and/or circular feel. Whether it’s the crisp diamond print on the Roman shade or the softer, circular lines of the black and white sofa pillows, they all have a linear feel. Choose a type of pattern that you like and have fun with it!
The most important thing to consider when mixing patterns and colors in a small space is proportion. You want to avoid too much of any one pattern in one place. If you look at this apartment, you will see that I have chosen to use small amounts of many patterns, not large amounts of fewer patterns. While it may sound strange that I am, in fact, encouraging you to use more pattern, I am actually preventing you from going overboard with one. By anchoring this room with solid colored furniture, I give myself free reign for wild pillows, rugs, etc. The solid sofa and pair of chairs break up all of the patterns in the room, allowing for each pillow and ottoman to make a statement. Think of it like you would an outfit: Having a solid base (the sofa, chairs and paint color) allows for statement jewelry, shoes and handbags (pillows, ottomans and rugs) to really make an impact.