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Mixing patterns

We'd like to welcome a guest blogger today who we at Ella have admired for a long time, the talented Layle Koncar, veteran of both Scenic Route and BasicGrey scrapbooking companies. Take it away, Layle!

I was recently browsing through a piece of junk mail pamphlet sent to me by one of our local furniture stores and I ran across an article that translated perfectly to scrapbooking.

In true 'Dear Abby' style, a reader asked the question

"Is it O.K. to mix stripes, plaids, florals and other patterns in a single room"?

Switch that last word from 'room' to 'layout' and voila!  I found that the answer to the question not only works in home decor, but it works perfectly for scrapbooking, too!

Mixing patterns can be daunting.  And if you're like me, it can be super daunting when it comes to scrapbooking.  I have no problem mixing stripes and florals and plaids, etc when decorating, but when it comes to scrapbooking, I freeze!

But when I started thinking about mixing patterns with home decor and translating that to scrapbooking, a light bulb went off in my head.

The response to the reader's question was simple - mixing patterns is a great way to add energy and vitality to a room.

The article went on to suggest 3 main points to consider when mixing patterns
  1. There are no rules to how many patterns to mix; however, too many patterns can be overwhelming. Odd numbers are generally more interesting to the eye, so 3 patterns is a good start.
  2. If things start to look too busy, use a solid color to strike a balance between patterns.
  3. Stripes tend to be the most adaptable to different decors and the easiest to harmonize with other patterns.
I looked around my house and found I had applied these 3 principles in my own decor when I had a couch designed a few years ago for our living room.  Talk about a daunting task picking fabric for a couch and pillows, with hundreds of patterns to choose from!  According to the article, I knew what I was doing without even knowing it!



  1. Odd number of patterns - the tone on tone stripe, a paisley and a bolder stripe
  2. Solid color - the cream '4' pillow
  3. Stripes!
So I sat down, pulled some product together and used those same 3 'home decor' design principles to create a layout, and this is what I came up with.



  1. Odd number of patterns - the polka dot, the honeycomb and the stripe
  2. Solid color - the white background
  3. Stripes!

Supplies: stripe patterned paper (BasicGrey Offbeat) + patterned paper, alpha stickers, label stickers, rub-ons, Fabrips (Studio Calico Documentary)

What do you know?  It works!

SO glad I didn't toss this pamphlet before reading it.  And so glad my husband didn't get to it before I did and throw it in the recycle bin before I grabbed it, which is a typical occurrence in our household :)

I started looking back through some of my more recent layouts and projects and found that every once in a while (must be a fluke!) I've applied these principles without realizing it.

Giveaway and Discount:

I'd like to share a project, or I should say Class Kit, that shows these design principles in action, with one lucky Ella blog reader. I'll be teaching 3 workshops in Southern California on July 9th and 10th (click here to view the workshops on my blog) and check out the images below.

1. The Three T's


2. Now You Know


3. Thank You For Being a Friend

Just leave a comment on this post by end of day Thursday June 10th letting me know if you're a 'mixing pattern expert' and these principles are a 'no duh' for you or you struggle like me when it comes to mixing patterns and these are an 'aha', I'm interested to hear back!  On Friday morning I'll draw one random lucky winner to receive one of the 3 class kits (a $60 value)!  If you're the lucky winner and local to Southern California, you can even come join in the fun and attend a class vs. having the kit mailed to you! 

There are a few spots available in the classes and I'd love to have some Ella readers join me. Sign up to attend 1, 2 or 3 of the workshops, mention that you read about it on Ella and receive $10 off. Don't live in Southern California, no worries! There's a shipping option available!

Good luck! and stop by my blog and say hi sometime.

And hey, next time take a second look at that junk mail, you never know what scrapbooking advice it might hold!

(p.s. for more fun with patterns, make sure you check out our Mix & Match article and Lisa Dickinson's helpful eBook, Design Workshop: Become a design genius in 10 easy steps.)
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