The Minimalist's Guide to Decorating with Patterns

White Entryway
Photography by ANNABEL ELSTON

As a self-proclaimed minimalist, I am all too familiar with the struggle that comes with the practice of mixing and matching patterns. My apartment features an almost exclusively whitewashed aesthetic, save for the single moment of color brought in by a vintage-inspired indigo dresser and a handful of plants. The absence of pattern is all too real, as my design style tends to skew towards the understated. And for as much as I enjoy said aesthetic, my space feels incomplete sans an intricate moment of contrast. Textures can only go so far, and there are only so many plants and potted greens I can fit into a tiny studio. Hence why a handful of subdued accent pieces, each featuring a delicate print, can really go a long way. Ahead, a few helpful tips for mixing and matching prints and patterns, specifically for the minimalist at heart.

White Bathroom
Photography by STEPHEN KENT JOHNSON

Tiles
 
Whether they're outfitting the kitchen, bathroom, or an outdoor area, tiles have the power to instantly transform the vibe of a space. Take for example this Parisian bath, where the clever designers took to the walls and floor with a modern geometric tile, which would implement a rather captivating detail against the whitewashed space. Not only does the intricate tile provide the bathroom with a major dose of personality, but it also diminishes the need for filling the space with much else, decoratively. 

White Bedroom
Photography by PIPPA DRUMMOND

Textiles

Throw pillows are a saving grace for those who are inclined towards the most non-committal approach to decorating with pattern. It's undeniably one of the easier methods of incorporating a fresh print within your space—be it you embracing a new trend or simply testing out a new style. Not only is it an effortless way to add a pop of color to a monochromatic scheme, but it also helps establish a dynamic finish with an element of depth. Feeling especially bold? Bring in a patterned throw, to make things even more interesting. 

When it comes to the actual practice of mixing and matching prints, keep things simple by working with a cohesive color palette. It's perfectly acceptable to keep it monochrome, instead opting for two subtly diverse patterns—much like Madewell designer Joyce Lee did, in her stunning home. 

Green Living room
Photography by SKYE PARROTT

Paint & Wallpaper
 
While this one errs on the more daring spectrum, it will consequently result in a bigger payout. Experiment with a colorful pattern play to implement a dynamic effect, and don't be afraid to mix mediums. Paint and wallpaper can coexist side by side, especially when working with a monochromatic palette. In this vibrant Nashville home, a striped detail outfits the living room's built-in shelf, imparting the area with a slightly elevated detail. The trick to making this one work? Lining the shelves with items that boast a complementary hue, and keeping the remaining decorative accessories to a minimum. 

Blue and White Bedroom
Photography by HOMEPOLISH

Rugs
 
There is something to be said about a minimalist space with a vibrant floor piece that captures the eye. Regardless of the aesthetic route you take—be it modern, geometric, globally-inspired, or traditional—a contrasting color detail, merged with a subtle pattern go a long way. Even the more scarcely decorated rooms, which come outfitted with a rug, can feel complete. 

In this light-filled Cali bedroom, a handful of globally-sourced textiles lend a defining element of contrast against the all-white and minimal decor scheme. Borrowing the soothing blues from the woven throw on the bed, the subtly patterned floor piece helps complete the finish of the room.  

White and Wood Entryway
Photography by BRITTANY AMBRIDGE

Art
 
Yet another low-committal method to decorating with pattern (yes, we too are sensing a trend here). If an exclusively whitewashed space is what you want, then stick by it, opting for color and pattern to come in the form of vibrant wall art. Now, we're not suggesting a massive gallery wall, but a series of prints that can help introduce a fresh perspective to your decor. If that doesn't speak to you either, opt for an oversized print to hang over the console in the entry or at the foot end of the dining room. A colorful piece, much like this one, can speak volumes. 

White Living room
Photography by CODY GUILFOYLE

At the end of the day, it's all about creating a space in which you will feel the most at ease. Introducing pattern into a minimalist scheme can seem intimidating—speaking from experience here—but starting out small definitely helps. Focus on one specific room, or better yet, a specific area, such as the sofa or a bookshelf. Play with textures and incorporate color, until you find a combination that speaks to you. Who knows, maybe in time, your home will be filled to the brim with an exciting slew of vibrant prints that inspire.


Discover more ways to decorate with pattern:
The Bohemian's Guide to Mixing and Matching Patterns
How Patterned Plants Can Spruce Up Your Winter
How to Mix and Match Bold Patterns in Your Home


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Published on January 20, 2018 - 10:04am EST

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