Dreamy patterns

Dreamy patterns

Layering patterns into any room will create a characterful space, but in a bedroom, it’s vital that the result is restful and harmonious, says interiors editor Lucy Searle.

I grew up in a house bedecked with pattern, and when I bought my first home back in the early nineties, the somewhat maximalist bedroom had been decorated in Morris & Co. Owl & Willow wallpaper and curtains. I’m ashamed to say that I’d reached pattern saturation point by then, so I took the curtains down and painted over the wallpaper. Since then, I’ve fallen firmly back in love with pattern but, in a bedroom, I still use it with restraint.

Pattern, after all, is as integral to your bedroom’s mood as its colour palette. For a textured, calming space, I find that a small-to-mid-scale hero pattern in low-contrast tones – as shown on Neptune’s Clemmie headboard in Fermoie’s Shell Grotto fabric – is ideal. Large-scale, high contrast patterns bring energy, so are better limited to lampshades, cushions or a headboard for interest.

Light levels and room proportions are a factor, too. Busy patterns over large areas – wallpaper, window treatments, rugs and bedding – will make your bedroom feel cosier but smaller. This might be perfect in a light, lofty bedroom, but if your aim is a bigger, brighter-looking room, I would pick out a one-colour pattern that your eye translates as soothing texture, or choose a light-coloured hero pattern with plenty of space between motifs.

Stripes, whether classic or abstract, can perform proportion-fixing tricks. Used vertically, in either wallpaper, curtain fabric or a tall headboard, they lift a low-ceilinged bedroom’s height. Or, used horizontally, they’ll exaggerate a small bedroom’s width or length. Or try laying an understated diagonal-checked rug to make a room feel both wider and longer.

I always find the hero pattern to be the best starting point for other pattern choices and the room’s colour scheme, since it will likely cover the largest proportion of the space, whether the headboard, floor, or walls. Whatever the hero’s scale, a successful combination of patterns usually includes one large and three to four small to-mid-sized motifs, united by a toning colour palette.

Use your favourite colour from the hero pattern in the greatest proportion as a plain, perhaps as a wall, wardrobe or carpet colour, and two or three low-contrast, toning accent colours from the hero pattern in smaller measures – picked out in bedding, a window seat fabric, in the border on a rug or the piping on upholstery.

Combining pattern styles and themes is vital for interest – aim for three to five. For example, if your hero is a trailing floral curtain fabric, you can layer in depth with geometrics, perhaps a subtle stripe for blinds or the headboard, and abstracts, such as a just-discernible textured-look wallpaper, all against a plain hero colour carpet. Of course, most brands group their fabrics and wallpapers in coordinating collections, which makes narrowing your choice – and planning a restful scheme – so much easier.

Previous Article Next Article