Monday, May 24, 2010

Seeing A Pattern

Patterns are incredibly tricky. How to distinguish a more expensive printed dress from a cheaper, mass-produced variety? Check the seams. Cheaply-made printed clothes will most likely have seams where the prints don't line up. On the other hand, a well-made garment is 'seamless' in that all the patterns line up, much like hanging wallpaper. 

Patterns immediately date the item it is on, as well as say something about the place it's from. Patterns can make a chair or piece of drapery look incredible dated and old, retro-chic or sophisticated. Unlike solids, they are more visually involving, meaning we may get tired of looking at it more easily. It creates movement on the object it is on, and can make it appear smaller or larger. The right patterns can take a space from bland and boring to one with more personality, dynamics and interest.

Here's a primer:

Checks range from tiny squares that almost read as a solid color to buffalo-check sizes for a bold statement. Checked fabrics are great complements to printed fabrics and floral fabrics and are a natural for American, English or French country dec√≥r. 

Used sparingly, checks provide a ground for florals. Tie everything together with a solid color.

Floral fabrics for home decorating include designs from small blossoms to large bouquets, from cottage looks to contemporary silhouettes. 

Florals can be overwhelming. Avoid an overly feminine look by sticking to stylized versions (top left) and use sparingly. Pick an item to cover, such as a chair, a pair of drapes, or a pillow, and ground everything with coordinating solids.

Striped designer fabrics range from tiny pinstripes to 6-inch stripes, from casual cottons perfect for slipcovers to dressy regency stripes that would complement a beautiful chair frame. Some stripe fabrics are fun to use horizontally, for a rugby-shirt effect on furniture or to create a distinctive look on a window drapery. Striped fabrics add personality!

Horizontally placed stripes are ultra-modern and can instantly give an otherwise traditional furniture a modern edge. 
Paisley patterns in fabrics create handsome effects when paired with plaid fabrics, floral print fabrics, or even animal print fabrics. In muted colors, paisleys can appear classic and suited for menswear looks; in brighter colors and smaller scale, they can take on country French airs.
Geometric fabric designs range from graphic patterns with high impact to small-scale chair patterns. They may be bold enough to stand alone or used to complement a strong print.

The juxtaposition of a graphic pattern fabric upholstered on a classic furniture frame adds a refreshing twist that is very modern and chic.

Animal prints
Animal prints are playful and quite frankly, never goes out of style in a kitschy kind of way. Try to select color ways that are more multi-tonal as shown here, to avoid getting an "I just skinned this from a kill" kind of look.

Animal prints can  be used in 
both modern and traditional 

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