Pick The Right Fabrics Every Time: The Mix and Match Fabric Formula

How To Pick the Right Fabrics Every Time (The Mix and Match Fabric Formula)
How To Pick the Right Fabrics Every Time (The Mix and Match Fabric Formula)

Trying to decide what fabrics to include in a room that you are decorating can be a daunting task.  There are so many colors and patterns…how do you decide which ones are right?

Follow our mix and match fabric formula to pick the right fabrics for your room!  This will take you through the steps to pick 5 fabrics that will add interest and appeal to your room.

Keep reading to find out the Mix and Match Fabric Formula.

Start a Mood Board

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Guest Bedroom Mood Board |How To Pick The Right Fabrics Every Time? The Mix and Match Fabric Formula
Guest Bedroom Mood Board

Before we dive into the mix and match fabric formula, I always start a mood board for every room I am decorating.  A mood board is just a fancy way of saying “a place where you can see all of your decorating choices in one place”.  It allows you to compare the color and patterns of everything you have picked so far to make sure everything looks good together…sometimes that fabric swatch you thought was fantastic in the store doesn’t look so great when you get home and see it next to the color of your floor.

Traditionally, mood boards were physical boards (foam board actually) that had all of the paint chips, fabric samples, area rug pictures, furniture pictures, etc. pinned to them.  They are great if you want to carry the board into the room being decorated and see how everything looks in that space…not so great for carrying around to the store when you are picking out the fabric for your curtains.

These days, Pinterest is a great way to create a mood board.  When I’m re-doing a room, I create a separate Pinterest board just for that room.  Then I can upload my own pictures, pin pictures from websites, or re-pin other pins that show things I may want to use in my room.  If I pin something and it doesn’t look good with what I have already selected, I can just delete the pin.  If you are pinning the picture from an online store, Pinterest will also maintain the link back to that store (no more forgetting where you saw that sofa you loved!)  And you can do all of this from your smartphone…very portable!

Guest Bedroom With Many Fabrics |How To Pick The Right Fabrics Every Time? The Mix and Match Fabric Formula
Guest Bedroom With Many Fabrics

I will be using my guest bedroom makeover as a step-by-step example of the fabric choosing process.

You can also see my post for the finished guest room by clicking here.

Now on to pick the right fabrics!

Pick The Right Fabrics Step 1:  Choose a Big Pattern

Step 1: Choose a large pattern |How To Pick The Right Fabrics Every Time? The Mix and Match Fabric Formula
Step 1: Choose a large pattern

The first step to picking the right fabrics is to choose a big pattern that hopefully includes most (if not all) of the colors that you want to use in the room.  This will be a jumping off point for you to find the rest of the fabrics for your room.  If you have already chosen a fabric-based inspiration for your room that has a big pattern, such as a duvet or area rug, you can decide to make that your big pattern selection (rather than selecting another one).  Since this fabric plays such an important part of the room, just make sure you love it!

The duvet has a big pattern fabric |How To Pick The Right Fabrics Every Time? The Mix and Match Fabric Formula
The duvet has a big pattern fabric

I try to use the big pattern fabric in a fairly large area (such as the curtains or the duvet).  The large pattern will get lost if you only use it on a small pillow.  This is just a guideline, though…if you can use a couple of throw pillows on the sofa and show enough of the pattern to set the tone for the room, that’s fine, too!

I also try NOT to use this pattern for large, expensive pieces of furniture (like the sofa) simply because it can limit your flexibility for re-using it in other rooms (and I like to move my furniture around!)

In my guest bedroom, the big pattern fabric was the duvet that I chose.  I used the cream colored background, purple blue of the flowers and green of the stems to help select the rest of the materials in the space.

Pick The Right Fabrics Step 2:  Select a Solid

Step 2: Pick a solid colored fabric |How To Pick The Right Fabrics Every Time? The Mix and Match Fabric Formula
Step 2: Pick a solid colored fabric

The second step to pick the right fabrics is to select a solid color fabric that matches one of the colors from your big pattern fabric.  Most people don’t have any problems with this step of the process…this is the safe and easy choice!

I don’t have any limitations on where to use solid fabrics (and I often have more than one solid color fabric in my room).  However, I do tend to use them for big pieces of furniture that are difficult to change such as sofas or love seats.  That leaves the most flexibility for re-arranging in the future.

In my guest bedroom makeover, I chose a navy-blue solid color fabric for the upholstered bench opposite the bed (above), as well as a solid light blue silk for the lamp shades beside the bed (below).

Solid color blue silk lamp shade |How To Pick The Right Fabrics Every Time? The Mix and Match Fabric Formula
Solid color blue silk lamp shade

Pick The Right Fabrics Step 3:  Find a Stripe

Step 3: Find a Striped fabric |How To Pick The Right Fabrics Every Time? The Mix and Match Fabric Formula
Step 3: Find a Striped fabric

The third step is to a find a striped or plaid fabric that uses colors from your big pattern.  Stripes are very versatile and can be used for pretty much anything in your room.

Stripes in the curtain fabric, bed skirt and pillows |How To Pick The Right Fabrics Every Time? The Mix and Match Fabric Formula
Stripes in the curtain fabric, bed skirt and pillows

There also is no limitation on the width of the stripe.  They can be really wide, like the striped curtains behind the bed and in the bed skirt. Or narrow pinstripes, like the ones on the cushion above.  Whatever your preference is should work just fine in your room!

Pick The Right Fabrics Step 4:  Choose a Small Pattern

Step 4: Choose a Small Pattern - Paisley or Damask often work well |How To Pick The Right Fabrics Every Time? The Mix and Match Fabric Formula
Step 4: Choose a Small Pattern – Paisley or Damask often work well

The fourth fabric to choose is a small pattern fabric.  A small pattern is usually a repetitious pattern that adds interest and color to the room, but doesn’t make a bold statement like the big pattern does.  It lets you reinforce the color scheme without making the room too busy. Patterns such as paisley and damask are often good candidates for your small pattern fabric.

A small print paisley is the pattern on these curtains |How To Pick The Right Fabrics Every Time? The Mix and Match Fabric Formula
A small print paisley is the pattern on these curtains

The paisley pattern in the curtains (above) picks up the cream, green and blue colors from the duvet, but isn’t as defined as the duvet’s big floral pattern.  The blue strip on the bottom of the curtains also contains a paisley pattern in two shades of navy…the paisley pattern ties it into the rest of the curtain, while the navy blue color matches the flowers in the duvet and the solid-colored bench.

Pick The Right Fabrics Step 5:  Add a Texture

Step 5: Add a textured fabric or fringe |How To Pick The Right Fabrics Every Time? The Mix and Match Fabric Formula
Step 5: Add a textured fabric or fringe

Adding texture is the fifth and last step of the fabric choosing process.  Textures add interest to a room that may or may not be related to the color.  Obviously the color of the textured material should go with the color scheme in your room, but the main purpose of this fabric is to add a more three-dimensional interest.

Adding trims, such as the fringe used on the curtains above, also “counts” as texture.

Fabric is adding texture if you can tell from a distance that it isn’t “flat”.  Chenille, velvet, mohair and faux fur are all examples of fabrics that add texture.

The bedroom makes use of lots of different fabric patterns but still looks co-ordinated |How To Pick The Right Fabrics Every Time? The Mix and Match Fabric Formula
The bedroom makes use of lots of different fabric patterns but still looks co-ordinated

Using the mix and match fabric formula lets you combine fabrics that go well together and look interesting to create a comfortable room that is not boring!

More Examples

Many fabrics used in a small space |How To Pick The Right Fabrics Every Time? The Mix and Match Fabric Formula
Many fabrics used in a small space – from Sarah’s House on HGTV

via hgtv.com

Sarah Richardson of HGTV fame is a master of using different fabric combinations which always look good together.  The pictures on this page both come from one of the rooms she did for her TV show “Sarah’s House”.

In the picture above, she has successfully combined 6 different fabric patterns in a very small space!  In this case:

  1. The curtains are the large scale print.
  2. The light blue chair in the foreground with the white and blue striped piping adds the solid color fabric.
  3. The large square cushion is the stripe.
  4. The smaller cushion with the geometric print is the small pattern.
  5. The blue velvet sofa is the texture.
Another example of many fabric patterns combined in a small space - from Sarah's House on HGTV |How To Pick The Right Fabrics Every Time? The Mix and Match Fabric Formula
Another example of many fabric patterns combined in a small space – from Sarah’s House on HGTV

via hgtv.com

Similarly this room mixes some patterns that a lot of people would be afraid to try together (and a completely different color pattern from the room above), but she manages to make it work.

  1. The large scale pattern is the curtains (again…sensing a pattern?)
  2. The solid is the blanket she laid over the back of the chair.
  3. The stripe is the throw cushion on the chair.
  4. The chair is the small scale pattern.
  5. In this picture, she doesn’t have a specific texture.  This goes to show that there is no such thing as a design “rule”…just guidelines.  In this case, the nobby fabric used in the striped pillow also adds to the texture (as does the woven basket beside the chair)…so extra texture isn’t really needed.

Hopefully you have a better idea of how to pick the right fabrics for your room. Now it’s time to get out there and put the process to work!

Comments or questions on how to pick the right fabrics for your room?  Tell us in the section below.

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