A room need not be swallowed up in pattern to make an impact. Thoughtful and strategic touches of a print can add visual interest or even camouflage unwanted areas without straining the eyes. Here are our favorite plays on pattern for any room.
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Start from the Ground Up
These days, a great-looking floor is within everyone's reach, thanks to three types of easy-to-install tiles: cork, linoleum, and carpet. With just a few basic tools and minimal cutting, you can use these tiles to create a variety of flooring motifs, including bold stripes and abstract houndstooth.
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Keep It Contained
A cheerful pattern, such as gingham, is often used for kitchen curtains, tablecloths, and bedding. But it can also add a casual crispness to furniture such as sofas and chairs. The fabric's clean graphic design makes a room feel cooler -- but keep in mind that a little goes a long way. Instead of reupholstering an entire couch in gingham, try starting with a smaller project, like a footstool.
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Try a Subtle Pattern
A grass-cut wall covering (cut into squares, with the pattern hung vertically and horizontally to achieve a checkerboard effect) creates a bedroom that is seductive yet not overwhelming.
Photography: Tim Street-Porter4 of 10
Play with Pattern Smartly
Pairing patterns in unexpected ways is worth the risk, but be mindful of where you do it in your home. It's easier to live with bold combinations in, say, a guestroom -- people don't have to live there full-time. This wallpaper gives off the impression you are sleeping in a garden. The furnishings are similarly eclectic, including a glossy modern desk with an ikat cushion and a Chippendale chair.
Photography: Dana Gallagher5 of 10
Display Pattern in Unique Ways
You are not limited to curtains or upholstery fabric when choosing patterns for your home. If the print on cafe au lait cups inspires you, group a collection and let it be the star in a kitchen bookshelf.
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Play with Scale
This gingham pattern by Schumacher has oversize checks that are bold rather than sweet. The more contemporary scale of the check allowed for adding florals without the room feeling fuddy-duddy. To keep it interesting, a diverse group of furnishings, including Art Deco chairs and a Gustavian bench, were added.
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Searching for a pattern that speaks to you? You can now design your own printed fabric with the help of websites like spoonflower.com. Here, a standard baker's tray is covered in a custom fabric that was designed and ordered from the site. It is now a patterned piece like no other.
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One bold gesture can make more of an impact than a multitude of patterns. A room full of flowers may have overwhelmed this entryway, but a larger-than-life botanical print (made from an enormous wall decal) is a clever twist on its framed counterparts.
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Stripes are one of the easiest patterns to place in your home. They also can provide a variety of looks -- rustic, refined, subtle, striking. Play with stripes until you find your perfect line.
Photography: WILLIAM ABRANOWICZ10 of 10
Use Pattern to Define
Love a bold print but are too afraid cover your room in it? Use a piece to create a custom headboard. You'll get the pattern you crave and save on the cost (and bulk) of a traditional bed frame.
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