Pattern vs Plain

by Creative Style Interiors

Pattern or plain

Pattern or plain? The choice has plagued us for centuries. How to make the perfect choice on windows, sofas and chairs, rugs, cushions, throws, and so on, as the results could haunt you for a long time if you get it wrong. The right balance however, could turn your home into a delightful expression of your personality that wows friends and family.

Charles Parsons Top 10 Upholstery Fabrics

Interestingly, the 10 top selling upholstery fabrics for 2013, as listed by Charles Parsons Interiors, were plain. The only concession to pattern was varying levels of texture, but still decidedly plain.

Charles Parsons Top 10 Drapery Fabrics

In contrast, the 10 top selling drapery fabrics favoured patterns – though many consumers chose subtle self-patterns woven in the same hue over more obvious multi coloured patterns. Textures were more refined than on upholstery fabrics. However, multicoloured patterns have a place in spaces that would otherwise be quite plain… just look at the amazing images below!

Pattern or plain 2

By now I’m sure you’re seeing a pattern emerge (pun intended)! Upholstery and window coverings are not only more costly to buy, but are more permanent than say, a rug or scatter cushions. You want your window coverings and furniture to last the distance, and plain fabrics have greater longevity when it comes to design. Then you can decorate the space around them with pattern.

Balancing your plains with some patterns is imperative. Why? Because too many plains and block colours can look boring and clinical. Who wants to live in a medical waiting room?


The main trend for patterned fabrics is to upholster smaller pieces of furniture such as dining chairs as well as occasional furniture in a bold and colourful pattern. For example, a patterned feature chair or ottoman can add extra impact to a space and can also create a much needed focal point. A distinctive pattern, even in neutral hues, can transform a space from bland to inspiring in an instant.

Living 5

Never underestimate the power of the humble scatter cushion to add continuity to a pattern scheme. They’re small elements that can be replaced at a nominal cost to instantly update a room and have maximum impact.

Don’t shy away from coordinating patterns, where an assortment of patterns is used from the same colour range to create interest and depth. Many fabric houses create their collections with coordinates in mind, and have done much of the hard work for you by compiling ‘stories’ in their swatch hangers. Pattern coordinates can look spectacular when done well, but going overboard could have your room looking like a 1990’s country styled farmhouse, complete with printed chickens.

How do you choose what patterns to put together? Simply by starting with your colour scheme. I usually begin with the plain as this sets the design and colour schemes. From here, if you choose a floral or abstract pattern, then check out a stripe as a coordinate, and vice versa. Stripes are timeless and never go out of style as you can find both a classic and a contemporary stripe. Also think about coordinating large and small patterns within the one design scheme. Again colour is usually the lynch pin.

Pattern or Plain Blog 2

The style of pattern and stripe is where personal taste comes into play because it could be anything that appeals to you.  Generally I’d keep your patterns in the same design scheme. For example, your room is decorated in a classic style I’d keep all the fabrics in this style too.

Now’s the time to be brave and add a little (or a lot of) pattern into your home!


If you’re still uncertain of how you can patterns and plains in your home, feel free to call me on 0416 190 792 or email me at [email protected]. Also visit my Pinterest page for some pattern inspiration.


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