In my opinion next to paint, fabric is the easiest and most economical way to transform a room. Just add a coat of paint and new drapes, cushions and pillows, and you have a brand new room. My suggestion to you is, check out your nearest fabric store for inspiration. When you are starting fresh in a room, a beautiful fabric will make the rest of the room happen.
Firstly, don't be afraid to mix patterns, strips, checks, solids, flowers etc. As long as all your colours tie in, you will be surprised what looks great together. The truth is most of the time fabric stores do the work for you. Usually, you will find fabrics that are similar in colour and texture that work together are displayed next to each other. For example, florals and stripes or paisley prints and stripes are always a wonderful combination. Picture this, drapes in the floral, pillows in stripe with floral piping, and a solid colour pulling them together on the backs of the pillows or maybe even a solid panel on the top or bottom of drape...Fabulous!
Wide stripes are the most un-busy pattern you can find. Use them when you can, by combining them with smaller designs of floral, plaid or geometric. For a more tailored or masculine spin on a space, you can use solids and geometrics, or animal prints and stripes; just don't use florals. Animal prints are so adaptable that they go with almost anything. For those of you who are fearful of patterns, try this simple experiment of using your patterns on pillows only, until you feel more comfortable.
Small and large prints used together also make a good combination. Sometimes, in a room you will find stripes, florals, geometrics, animal prints, paisley, and they all go together because there is colour continuity pulling them together. What is colour continuity? It is placing emphasis on, or using more of, one colour on a larger scale. By doing this, you give yourself the freedom to add more fabrics with varied patterns and textures, and still create harmony.
Important tips for mix and matching
COORDINATE YOUR COLOURS
If you already have elements from the room, like art, upholstery fabric or painting then those are great foundational pieces to build on. If the fabric store is your first stop, then find that one piece of fabric you fall in love with, and start building from there. Remember, don't be ashamed to carry that bolt around the store if you have to. Don't worry about matching your colours exactly; just make sure that there is one similar colour between your fabrics to keep harmony.
EMPHASIZE ONE COLOUR
Mixing and matching unique fabrics is a great thing, but don't over do it. To minimize conflict between fabrics, place emphasis on one colour by using more of it, or using it on a larger scale.
VARY THE SCALE
I believe this is the most important tip. Patterns can quickly cause conflict if the scales (size) are not varied. Here is an example; a large floral pattern can be paired with a medium geometric pattern and a small detail pattern. Using three different scales together will blend the fabrics and maintain harmony, because it's all about harmony.
AVOID TOO MANY PATTERN DIRECTIONS
Lines create strong psychological effects, so just be careful when adding lined patterns. Too many lines can be confusing and create tension. A great way to avoid this is to never have two (2) geometrical patterns right next to each other.
I hope this article has inspired you to let your imagination run wild...enjoy!