PATTERN PERFECTION: Making Bold Patterns Work for Your Spaces

different patterns on a variety of surfaces

Patterns are back and making a HUGE impact across the industry in everything from interior design to fashion to rolling pins.

tory burch anthropologie
According to Tory Burch, the patterns we are seeing in 2018, like the items at right from Anthropologie, were inspired by the work of David Hicks in the 60s and 70s.

As is often the case, many of the floral prints, tropical vibes and geometric patterns that are dominating current fashions are now popping up in interior spaces. Both fashion and interior design trends reflect a constantly evolving blend of tradition, culture and innovation that influence self-expression whether it is your personal or business brand.

Patterns, like bold colors, add visual interest and often serve as the focal point for a space.  They foster a sense of energy and dimension that are difficult to achieve with color alone.  When done well, patterns have the power to transform any space or object into quite a showstopper with rich and distinctive interest.  While going bold can be daunting, it does not have to be.  The challenge is developing the right mix of elements to effectively interact and balance one another, ultimately forming a cohesive whole that is both unique and inviting.  If you are scared of jumping in feet first, start small, with a gorgeous pillow or a unique piece of art.

Today, big bold pattern options are available for a wide range of finish materials.


kirkland village pattern
For the Northwood Gardens new hybrid apartment homes at Kirkland Village in Bethlehem, PA,, wallpaper helped to create distinctive lobby common spaces.

Wallpaper is a great way to create “wow” spaces for hospitality interiors, as well as individual residences. Just a few years ago, we were removing all of the patterned paper and painting walls a solid, often neutral, color or introducing a clean linen or silk look.

Decorative Accessories

minimal committment patterns
Accessory examples featuring bold patterns. L to R: Spoonflower do-it-yourself project, The Glam Pad showhouse and Houzz, Kitchens by Eileen.

Decorative accessories such as area rugs, throw pillows and artwork are the simplest way to introduce bold patterns, and these items are typically less expensive than other design options.  The introduction of a pillow or a vase can be the easiest way to make the leap towards this trend.

williams sonoma pillows
Patterned pillows from Williams Sonoma

Window treatments and upholstered furnishings are similarly a good starting point for introducing patterns into spaces. These items can be more easily replaced than flooring and other types of room finishes, making them a good choice for those who are not ready to make a long-term commitment to bold patterns or those who want the flexibility of an ever-changing environment.

As illustrated in many of the photo examples, mixing and matching patterns is perfectly acceptable. The key is building upon one bold pattern in a room and then adding others of different scales that either contrast or complement the main feature.


Tile Backsplash

island and backsplash tilework
L to R: The Design Sponge blog highlights the work of designer Jessica Helgerson for former Mexican restaurant, Corazón; Madrid hostel, The Hat, featured in We Heart blog, bold patterns are increasingly popping up on tile backsplashes like this example from the Cement Tile Shop.

While a tile backsplash requires a longer-term relationship than the finishing touches mentioned above, replacing neutrals with a bold pattern elevates a functional, everyday space to make a statement that is truly unique. And serving counters in commercial spaces, like the examples above, provide the perfect canvas for a bold pattern to shine.


flooring examples using patterns
The bold tile flooring examples are from L to R: Studio McGee and Brian O Tuama Architects.

A patterned floor makes a dramatic design statement. However a good rule of thumb is the more striking the color tone or pattern a material has, the more important it becomes to have complementary design elements and materials around it. In the kitchen photo above, the understated neutral backsplash and dark green cabinets are a perfect match for the bold floor pattern. The above corridor image reflects a similar approach.

If you are not ready to commit to installing a boldly patterned floor, area rugs offer a great alternative.  A bold geometric, striped or floral area rug can similarly transform a space.


ceilings that use patterns
Ceiling examples L to R: Stephen Karliish Photography Studio, Houzz Elizabeth Gordon, Home Adore and Houzz Duet Design Group.

Often disregarded, the ceiling is a great choice for introducing a bold pattern that will add dimension and style to your space.  It is a surprising way to add a pattern without overwhelming the space, particularly in smaller rooms.  This technique also helps to avoid visual clutter by providing separation between the bold pattern and the many other elements comprising the space below.

We find that clients are sometimes reluctant to select a larger-scaled pattern, but this type of design feature can make a great statement and a little goes a long way.  A single niche in a wall, a tile inset in a bistro floor or bold pillows are all you need.  The use of bold patterns is often daunting, but these powerhouse elements will quickly and easily transform a design scheme from ordinary to utterly spectacular!

Jessica Jack, IIDA, LEED AP, has 16 years of experience focusing primarily on commercial interior design.  She loves finding new, surprising places for bold patterns and color schemes to help clients set their business and brand apart from the mundane. According to Jessica, neutrals definitely have their place and set the framework, but there is a richness and depth that is achieved with just the tiniest introduction of something bold.

Blog Editor – Jodi Kreider, LEED AP

Interested in more great ideas for adding bold patterns to your interiors?

Jessica has created a board with some of her favorite wallcovering examples on her Pinterest page.

If you liked the above photo example from The Glam Pad, here are a few more examples from the designer show house.

Spoonflower is a design resource for custom wallpapers that also provides ideas for covering more than your walls. features a new wallpaper collection from premium wallpaper company, Hygge & West partnered with iconic paper company Rifle Paper Co.