Incorporating pattern into your home can work as part of a ‘gentle’ scheme. Here we focus on the living room…
Words Abigail Edwards
In this age of maximum communication life can be overwhelming, and introducing pattern can feel as if it will simply increase the noise and confusion. But when chosen carefully, pattern can be as functional as it is decorative. Pattern can contribute to environments that promote healing, well-being and relaxation.
The living room is generally where we relax, the visual mood should be soft and comfort is key. With many disparate pieces of furniture, coffee tables, side tables, sofas and chairs, this room can easily look jumbled and cluttered. Pattern can give a focal point. A wallpapered wall behind a sofa can create the colour scheme for a room, or a rug can zone the space linking all of the random pieces of furniture together. Pile sofas with textiles, patterned blankets and throws to wrap up in and plump cushions to sink in to. Frame windows with gently decorated curtains, to create a nurturing environment and to link back to the textiles used on the sofa. Patterns don’t need to match. A colour palette that is repeated throughout the room, contrasting designs that enhance one another, or patterns that blend together will create a flow that gives consistency.
The practice of having a room of matching wallpaper, curtains and upholstery is becoming more popular again and Birgit Morgensten has a simplified version of this look in her home. A wall of Gräser wallpaper stretches the length of the room, with the large central window framed by curtains of the same fabric. When the curtains are closed the pattern flows across the full wall uninterrupted and when they are open the view outside is framed by the pattern. The simple upholstery and white walls stop the matching pattern being overwhelming creating a very peaceful room. Leading off from this space is a little reading area. Birgit found the two little stools in the street and reupholstered them in different prints of her fabrics. “I wanted to place them next to each other, and keep a harmonious colour theme, but the shades are varied to keep it more interesting”.
Layering pattern upon pattern needn’t create the “patterning headache” Voysey refers to. By keeping the colour tones in a similar palette, the designs can blend into each other, creating layers of warmth without feeling cluttered. In my living room, I already had Brambleweb wallpaper on the wall and had recently upholstered my 1950’s sofa in Bird linen for a shoot. I was worried that afterwards I would have to redecorate, that they would be too much together but the watercolour pink tones in Bird, reflected the pink-tinged grey of Brambleweb and the difference in scale between the patterns mean they stand alone without being isolated. And mixing monochrome patterns and furniture with contrasting designs in soft colours will also add atmosphere and warmth. Daniel Heath’s living room is an eclectic mix of Daniel’s designs, blended in with vintage pieces. The small space could be chaotic but a tiny sofa has been chosen to nestle into an alcove to maximise space and mustard tones run throughout. The textures of the rug and the woven sofa keep the room interesting and the warm hues of the wooden sofa, table and shelf tie the space together. Daniel says, “I am trying to be a bit more curated in the things that I select. You can end up with a hotchpotch of stuff, which can be charming, but living in a small space in London I have to be restrained. London is busy and frenetic as it is and our house is becoming more of a refuge from that busyness, and the hectic pace of everyday life.”
Shannan Camanaro’s love of the ocean is clear to see in the seating area of her urban loft in New York. The watery coastal blues of the Eskayel wallpaper are echoed in the super laidback blue leather sofa. “It’s always scary to commit to a pattern because the idea of a clean blank wall is so appealing but once you commit and then you see pictures of the bare wall without the pattern it looks so cold and unfinished. Pattern can really complete a room and it’s ok to mix it up.” She says. The assorted patterns in varying tones of blue are mixed with a shaggy cream rug and faux fur throw, adding layers of comfort and texture to make this a space that invites lounging. The timeless blue and white colour scheme of Emma Von Bromsen’s living room is a classic combination. Emma’s crane design is used as wallpaper on the walls and again on the cushions. This could look too matchy-matchy but by mixing in her mackerel design and a patterned throw, the room becomes modern and relaxed. The rich indigo tones of the textiles keep the overall appearance cohesive and the linen of the traditional sofa has a comfortable lived in look, the plain natural colourway gives space to the intensity of the patterns making for a very restful room.
When Kim Rosen is designing patterns for Fayce she tries to picture what she would want in her own house. “I like things that are not overpowering I don’t want something to be a focal point. I like décor to blend in with my stuff. I have a variety of different types of pieces in my home that don’t necessarily go together but they all work because there is a subtle palette.” She keeps things neutral with the occasional pop of colour. Mixing patterns to an extent but not too many crazy designs together. This accent chair upholstered in Gather has been paired with a vintage rug but as the rest of the furnishings and décor are so simple the look is restrained.
Vanessa & Brendan of Mineheart live in a 1960’s house and have added a bit of cosiness and warmth to the clean lines of the architecture with their Almost White wallpaper. Their Loveletter wallpaper behind the faded leather sofa has a sense of history to it; the pattern consists of elegant hand-written love notes from a bygone era, a rarity in these days of email and text messages. The romantic time-worn charm adds a sense of stillness to their home, emphasised by the combination of distressed leather sofa and their contemporary take on traditional cushion designs. The open plan space is zoned with three different monochrome wallpapers, all lined up next to each other but defined by the wide central chimney breast. The seating area here has a romantic faded damask design, happily contrasted with the clean lines of the furniture but the space is unified by the monochrome pattern in the decorative rug on the floor, which brings the room together with a repetitive curation of delicate pattern. “We generally like walls to be quite bright and white,” says Brendan. “With dark patterned walls you feel like you can’t hang anything on top, that isn’t the case with the bleached out versions of these designs, they make the house feel light. We like wood and natural materials but if you mix that with pattern and too many other materials, it becomes too much. Our style is quite simple.”
Extract taken from Quiet Pattern by Abigail Edwards, published by Clearview Books, £20