How to mix patterns, styling 101

Mixing patterns is trending, folks, in fashion and home style. But there are tricks and tips to styling them right so you don’t look like a crazy person and instead look like a super interesting, well traveled, uber chic person. Because THAT is what you want.

Thank you so much for all the mantel styling support.  Honestly the feedback and the love keeps the train moving and the content gets produced so much faster, so thank you.  In case you missed the first video, ‘How to style your mantel’ check it out.

Here you go, Video #2 for your viewing pleasure.

mixing patterns from modshift


And we are thinking ‘shelf styling’, ‘mixing masculine and feminine’ and ‘coffee styling’ is next unless you guys are dying for something else.  Speak up and leave in the comments and now that the Emily team has more help and is taking on less clients, stuff is actually happening around here.

  1. linda

    I hope that someday you think of writing a book. You have a great start with these posts.

  2. Joanna

    Love this! Thanks for doing these. I'm sure they take a good deal of time and coordination, and they're totally worth it. :)

  3. sarah

    I loved this. I have a hard time editing, I love color, pattern, crazy. I needed someone to teach me how to mix it up and tone down the crazy. AWESOME! Also, I want your pillow collection!

  4. Gigi

    Ohh I love the videos! I think doing the next one mixing masculine and feminine would be great!

  5. Christina G

    Love these series! Just moved into my first place, and am completely overwhelmed with design options. This is helping me tackle each area, one at a time. Keep going! Love your presence on camera!!

  6. L

    Does "coffee styling" mean "coffee table styling"? I kind of hope not–I'd love some ideas for prettying up the coffee maker area on my kitchen counter!

  7. Katy

    Love it!! The tips are easy to understand, and when you show us multiple options at the end, it really helps visualize how I could combine patterns in my own house. Also, I love that you were mixing patterns in your outfit too. Those polka dot pants were RAD.

  8. Nina

    I love these videos. This one was exactly what I needed as I attempt to pull together my living room. I'd love one on finding the right rug for a room, if you're taking suggestions.

  9. Stephanie

    I'm just going to brag here and say I looked over at my couch during this video and found that I had followed these rules without even knowing them. Thanks for telling me I'm right! LOL! I have to agree with L's comment, coffee table styling is good, but coffee styling? How cute! I love a good coffee service tray to take on the patio.

  10. YES! Mixing masculine and feminine–that's what I really want. I also think sometimes about rug selection would be really helpful! (Like if you get a rug with big color and/or pattern, how much should that control your other choices? Or are rugs just backdrops? I've heard some people say that about traditional oriental rugs…)

    I really enjoyed this video. I liked how it was edited too, so you walked us through your thought process for one grouping, but then it flashed a few other options that followed your rules at the end. that was helpful and easy to follow!

  11. Kat

    Love it. I vote shelf styling!!

  12. Me

    Hello! I am looking for advice on how to create a focal point in a room without letting other things (furniture, other art) compete with said focal point. Also, what do you do if you've got difficult architecture? Are there any tricks or work-arounds if, say, your windows aren't the same size or the room has weird proportions? Many thanks!

  13. Missy

    This video was so helpful! I'm trying to figure out the pillow situation on my couch right now – perfect!

    I really like how you take what is visually appealing to all of us and actually break it down and give us "rules" so that we know WHY we like what we like. You're making good design accessible for those of us who can't afford to hire a professional but still want our home environments to look great and reflect who we are – so thank you for that!

    I'd LOVE it if you could do a video about how to do a gallery wall. I've been collecting pieces for forever and need to get some art hung up on my living room wall but I'm kind of intimidated about which pieces to put together and in what configuration to hang them. Your input would be AWESOME!!!

  14. I love this video! Just what I needed! The next 3 installations would also be really helpful. Please keep them coming! I would love a styling tip for the bedroom, i.e. styling the bed with pillows & bedding, lamps & lamp shades, curtains and more specifically styling the nightstands. Love your blog & show!

  15. I echo the comment about the book. You'd have the best combo of coffee table worthy along with usefulness of content!

  16. Amy

    This is so helpful! I love your work and the way you mix patterns and textiles. Unfortunately when I try it on my own it's either too crazy or too uniform… thanks for breaking the process down in these videos!

  17. this is such a helpful video. For the past few weeks I have been trying to figure out which pillows to order and this put me back on track. Thank you so much. I hope you can list where you purchased the pillows. The suggestions for upcoming videos are perfect. I would also suggest how to pick a color palette for the room and where to infuse which colors. I love the same shades of blue as you so I love all your tips. Also how to set a table. I always love your place settings on your show. How to style a bed when it comes to duvet, comforter, coverlet, and pillows. I have tons of suggestions but I'll stop here.

  18. demoree

    a fantastic & informative video. i can't wait to see more! i've missed you on my tv/screen. :) thanks, emily!

  19. Sarah

    I would love tips on styling a bed. There are so many pillow options and patterns there that sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming. Every magazine practically uses white on a bed, and I can't do white in my house ( i have a black cat), so knowing how to layer in other colors would be so helpful.

  20. Lane

    Nice tips! I have been scared of patterns but am resolving to change that. I would love your next video to be about mixing masculine and feminine.

    PS: love that you dressed to represent the theme of the video. Wish I could wear little polka dot pants!

  21. Danielle

    Love this! I feel like I'm truly learning so much! yay! I second the previous comments – you need to write a book!
    In the meantime, I'm looking forward to all the other styling tips/videos. And if you have any ideas for how to style/arrange furniture in a long-rectangle shaped living room, I'd love to hear them!

  22. Mindy

    Coffee table styling! I remembered your tips from the Secrets from a Stylist, but I still haven't been able to create something I am happy with.

  23. hr4979

    Awesome! THis may sound weird, but I'd love tips for styling a bathroom. I'm about to redo mine (it's SMALL) and have a hard time figuring out ways to inject some personality into a bathroom withouth cluttering it up with unnecessary (b/c it's SMALL). I know you don't generally renovate bathrooms, but would love ideas on stying one…a SMALL one :)

    Also, someone above mentioned styling a bed…I'd love tips on styling w/ throw pillows in general. I tend to just buy ones I like and thne throw them on the couch with no real rhyme or reason.

  24. Brandon

    Loving these videos! They are so cute and fun, but still packed with info. Really great! I agree with the few people above who suggested bed styling. Totally agree with Catherine…"styling the bed with pillows & bedding, lamps & lamp shades, curtains and more specifically styling the nightstands". These are all things I have trouble with. On the pillow styling for the bed especially because I am a dude and I want things looking collected but not overdone. I'm also lost when it comes to leaving a wall alone in a room. Balancing positive and negative space would be incredibly helpful. I end up with something on every empty wall and it always feels cluttered. Really loving how focused you are on delivering for your readers! You are the best!

  25. Amanda R.

    Thanks Emily! This video was super helpful!! I couldnt quite figure out why my pillows just didnt go together the way I wanted and now I know how to fix it. Awesome!!

  26. Sheri

    Thankyouthankyou! Another vote for a book!

    I made the mistake of buying some drapes in a BOLD pattern that I love and hanging them floor-to-ceiling on one wall in my bedroom. I have since been so overwhelmed with trying to pick anything else that'll go with that pattern that I moved everything else away from that wall…and bought solid bedding. I'm a wimp. I will now go forth and try to find some (like 2) more patterns that will play nice with my wacky drapes =D

  27. Pls. do a post on book shelf styling and side/corner tables . Pretty Please :)

  28. Heather

    Love it so much! I'll probably have to watch it a couple of times as I get more throw pillows.

    I'd like a post on how to get my husband to give up his awful, awful recliner. Just kidding! I would like to see more of your input on hardwood floors…. Can you mix up the wood from room to room (especially if our house is small)? What about dark wood vs. Medium wood vs. Light wood? Will it all match my couch and other wood furniture?

  29. Kimberly

    Loved it! What if you have 3 variations of the same patterns. For example, I have 3 separate patterns of black and white stripes, not to mention the 3 other patterns I've got going on in the same room. I would be outside the rule of 3-5 patterns clocking in at 6 total. If my 3 variations on the stripe can count as 1 pattern, then I back to 4 total. Just curious because the patterns are so similar but one is zebra, one is an actual stripe and the other looks like tree branches.

  30. Girl, you are knocking it out of the PARK these days!

  31. Wendy

    I'm loving the videos. I have appreciated the tips from both so far. I read your blog all the time and have never posted. You are my favorite designer and I tell everyone but you! I'm hoping for many more Secrets From a Stylist episodes. While a coffee area in the kitchen and coffee table styling both appeal, I find styling my whole kitchen a horrible challenge. I have a VERY small kitchen and am always fighting the space to have a non-cluttered, functional space that is still as stylish as the rest of the house. Please help!!!! Also, it would rock if you wrote a styling/decorating book. I'd buy it.

  32. Sunne

    These are fun to watch with great info! Thanks.

  33. Gwen

    As always, you're the best! Your tips are thoughtful and done in such a fun manner. How about styling a large bookshelf/case? Space planning different rooms would be helpful too.

  34. Kiira

    Love this video, and great job on all of the fantastically informative posts recently. TIme for you to write a book…

  35. Shaun

    I'd love to see your takes on creating styling moments for small spaces: a powder room, a shelf in a closet/valet area, a small entryway. How to create impact quickly without ruining the functionality of a small space.

  36. Jen

    Yay! So good!! Would you be interested in a video about styling table scapes? I'm getting married in October and am trying to manage my own decorations, but the table scapes have me a little stumped… help!?

  37. again, the mistakes are way more instructive than doing the right thing. brilliant. and forgive me but i love your polka dot pants more than life itself. is that TMI?

  38. I have this teeny tiny area. It's a tall vintage lamp with a tiny attached table {like round… around the lamp}. It's probably a foot in diameter with a skinny lamp pole coming out of the middle. How the heck do you style a one foot table? Round. With a lamp coming out of the middle. I mean a coaster is about all that looks normal. However, it also looks super boring. Sooo… I doubt that merits a whole post, but how the junk do you style a teeny space like that?

  39. Caitlin

    Yay Emily! Love love love the videos! Please continue with more amazing tips and your cute self. Question: Tips for pillows on a leather sofa, my pillows keep slipping and won't stay put. Sofa too slippery or pillows to slippery. It drives me crazy. Really really crazy.

  40. I love these videos and I really look forward to learning about mixing masculine and feminine.

  41. Love these videos!!!! So informative and fun to watch at the same time. Thank you!

  42. Leah K.

    Yes to shelf styling! Can't wait!

  43. this is great! I feel like everyone is now mixing pattern too much and it just doesn't make sense to me… this is nice that you broke it down…there are always rules behind the seemingly random…..great job! you always look so good too…loved your outfit

  44. Emily

    I love that you actually break down concepts into useful tips to apply to a space. So helpful! A few topics I would love to hear your thoughts on (on video or on the blog): proportions (furniture, mixing and matching, relative to the room, relative to art, etc.), and how to create multiple zones and/or function in a large room (for those of us who do not live in LA and thus have larger homes/rooms to work with!)

  45. Mary

    the best thing next to your tips on your vids is your delivery. You are hilarious!

  46. Dyanna Littke

    I am loving these videos- they are great tips- thank you! Also- I have had my eye on that dog print for some time now- it's popping up all over but I can't seem to find where its from? Will someone fill me in if they know? Thanks so much!

  47. Perfect video. Thank you for doing these. They are super awesome (like you).

  48. Julia R

    maybe a video about displaying a collection of wall art? maybe it's played, and you sort of did it with your frames blog post, but i think it would be super helpful. Do you subscribe to the "upside down lowercase e" idea of the way our eye moves and loops through a vignette? (something kenneth brown mentioned on his show once, and it stuck with me).

  49. …Hum? No post about the winner of Design Star?

  50. Holly

    PLEASE share where you got the large floral pillow!!? I need it!

  51. Lyn33

    Thanks for a great presentation… Again! Keep 'em coming.

  52. Claire Yang

    this is somewhat dry, but space planning, please! esp odd-shaped rooms.

  53. Joanna

    LOVE these videos!

    Excited for masculine/feminine.

    Would also love rugs (as another commenter said) — they are so expensive and such a focal point, I want to do it right!

    Also, this sounds tacky, but what about how to style around TVs? In my house, being able to comfortably watch TV is a big deal, but it always seems like an eyesore and like the whole room revolves around the TV – would love some stylish ideas!

  54. Betsy

    Please, please, please, coffee table styling. Please…..Please.

  55. Jessica

    .Keep 'em coming! Really keep any thing with you coming!(hear that HGTV?!) I've been trying to think of what you might possible name my style, I thought of it today… "kitchy industrial country" doable or dumb?

  56. Kristen

    LOVE these! Some topics I could use help on include bedding, window treatmeats, furniture placement in the living room. Would love you forever if you helped me out with those!!!

  57. jenn

    another great video. Informative and to the point!

  58. Angela

    Thank you! Loving these for sure. And I cannot wait for shelf styling! I am dying to style mine without it looking tchotchke or bare…finding that balance is so hard! Thanks again, love checking your blog and always learn something new!

  59. Laura

    I agree with the first post… Write a book I would TOTALLY buy it! So inspiring, and helpful.

    I would like some more advice on how you mix and balance the more complex arrangements, like the final look with the mantelpiece and when you mix lots of pieces on a shelf. Always looks so flawless, would love some tips on how to know to get it right.

    You are the best thing since domino mag

    Laura, UK

  60. Mila

    Ooo! Another vote for bed styling!! How many pillows? Euro shams or not? Solids or prints? Ahhhh!!! Too many choices and mine always end up looking wrong!

  61. Lara

    Wow! Emily, that was really cool – it's so interesting to see the "science" behind your process. I can't tell you how helpful it is to have design broken down into such clear rules.

    P.S. Did you see your mention on the Young House Love blog, when Sherry went window shopping and saw a thrift store chair that screamed "Emily Henderson?" As soon as I saw her pic, I had the same thought.

  62. Erin

    This is great! I love the tips. Soooo helpful!

  63. susan

    Emily, I agree with all the other posts. I love these video how-to's. They help alot and you should write a book! I would like a rug selection one too as someone else suggested. I have a beautiful velvet leopard headboard-french provincial and have no idea what kind of rug to select to go with it. Susan

  64. LOVING THESE. And my baby daughter also loves to groove to the background music.

  65. Bean Wager

    Videos=awesome. How about one on rugs and how to know size and color…it's so easy to have too much going on in a room (or too little) and I feel like the rug often makes or breaks that… also, kitchen styling…I tend to just shove all practical and un-pretty things away and instead display pretty things…is that all there is to it? can we have some things out if we use the right stuff? oh also, how about styling a bathroom with pink tile..? i'm stuck here.

  66. Rachel

    COFFEE TABLE!!!!!!

  67. Anna Best

    Love this–I'd love to see a gallery wall video next!

  68. Eva

    Love the videos, keep em coming, I love to mix patterns, great to see you have the palm leaf patterned cushions as well!

  69. I just stumbled across your blog and i am in LOVE! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge of mixing patterns and fabrics. This is one area i struggle with and this video/tips totally helps :) Have an amazing weekend hun!

  70. Jessi

    How to style your tv so it doesn't look tacky! For those of us who don't have a "den" and "living room" and have to make it work! Bonus points if tips include placing your tv in a room with a fireplace.

  71. Gina

    Can't thank you enough for these videos. They seriously help! I'd kill to have a Chiang Mai Dragon pillow (aquamarine, please) to mix with other patterns in my room. If you're thinking about doing a book I'd like to pre-order now. I can do that, right? :)

  72. Jayne


    Keep them coming.

    I need them all!
    From your next choices, I'd say coffee table, especially kid friendly coffee table styling and functional coffee table styling. We still need to be able to use the coffee table and not have it full of stuff in the family room. It needs ot ahve drinks, food, feet etc on it!

  73. MD

    Emily, this video is GREAT!! I feel like I avoid patterns because I'm afraid that my rooms (or my clothes) will turn into a circus. These rules make sense to me. I also really liked that you did it "wrong" a few times to explain how to do it right. That always feels more helpful than just seeing some "right" versions where your eye goes "yes, ok, I get it" but your brain is secretly still going "huh?"

    Can you post some good sources for pillows? The ones you pulled for the clip are so cute. I never know where to look beyond the obvious sources (Anthro or West Elm…that's seriously all I can think of). Thanks!

  74. MD

    Also, really looking forward to masculine / feminine. I always end up buying masculine objects (maybe I am attracted to clean lines? or I am afraid of unleashing the grandma or suburban mom within?) and then I wonder why my home looks like a bachelor pad. Need to figure out how to balance while maintaining a cohesive look!

  75. Laura

    seriously. I love your show and this blog. I had my mom over yesterday to help me with decorating my house and i was quoting you to her: "You know, Emily would frame a piece of art this way to make it look more expensive…Emily says you shouldn't angle furniture…Emily would probably introduce some brass or chrome here…" Thank you so much for great design and for explaining why some things work and some don't!!! So so helpful and your style is fresh but classic and a little bit crafty/quirky- just what I love! Please keep it coming!

  76. deirdre

    Best. Blog. Post. Ever. Thank you!

  77. Brette

    Thanks for these how-to videos. I've already re-styled my mantle and the pillows on my sofa. I love the results!

  78. Adair

    Again, super helpful and informative. I needed these 4 years ago when I bought my house!

  79. Alex

    Love this! These videos are so helpful, would love the Masculine and Feminine one. Do you have any tips for creating a gallery wall? No matter how many ways I try it they always seems off for some reason..

  80. Sabrina

    I feel like I cheated… I already watched this video when it popped up as an option after your last video. Anyway, I'm loving these, and since I have a lot of shelves, a male person living with me, and no coffee table, I vote for shelves and masculine/feminine. I also vote for you telling us where you got that blue/white/coral floral pillow.

  81. Eagle Eye

    I'm just writing to let you know that I've now watched this video 3 times! I have this chair in a crazy beautify but still large and colorful pattern, and now I need to figure out how to balance it out in the rest of the room.

    This is so unbelievably helpful! Thanks so much!

  82. Yes!! All those things you suggested would be fantastic. And I agree with the comment about a book! You SO need to write one! Thank you for this info!!!

    When is the next season of your show? Soon, I hope!

  83. I LOVED this video!! amazing, youre such a natural
    I would LOVE a video on mixing masculine and feminine and coffee table styling and the shelf styling- so yes I would appreciate all three of the those videos.
    Any time and effort you put in is totally worth it.
    Thank you so much for everything you've taught me
    im sorry if this comment has read like some estranged love letter dont worry im happily married with a baby- just think youre amazingly talented

  84. wow! I loooove your videos! And it is funny because I posted about mixing patterns too! but your advices are much better…
    kisses from Barcelona!

  85. I love your video series! Keep 'em coming! I liked how you showed the other pillow/throw combinations so I could get more of a sense what to do with a different color palette or patterns…I would've also liked to see more combinations and seen this done in more areas of the room. For example, a room styled with mixed patterns on the curtains, pillows, throws, rugs, etc.

  86. Amelia

    All of your tips are so helpful. I'd love to see a coffee table styling video as a blank coffee table translates to the feeling of an unfinished room. Maybe tray styling too, as trays are clutter corrals. Thanks :)


    i'd love a video on color palettes. a how to color combo guide. thanks emily! love your voice!

  88. Lex

    All right. You are amazing, your posts are amazing, you have the best of tastes, and you make a great helpful video. But your commentary on design star is unparalleled. I'm just putting that out there. Also, write books, have sons, get your own channel for crying out loud! You have what's called a fan base or "following."

  89. Tommy

    Ideas for a bachelor pad!! DO IT!

  90. decorbuddy

    Just one opinion but far too many pics of leather upholstery. Otherwise good information provided.

  91. Love this! I've been wondering on how to mix patterns. I would love to see coffee table styling, I'm a mess!

  92. Wow, I LOVE this! I am doing really well with colour and texture, but the tip about mixing the size of the pattern is the best ever! Thank you so much, Emily :-)

  93. Emily

    Great video! You are so charming, thanks for taking the time to teach :)

  94. These videos are AMAZING – I love them! I desperately need shelf/bookcase help. If you need an example house to go in and fix, you can use mine! I love everything about my place except my TV shelf/bookcase area ugh … and for another one an idea is styling your desktop. This is one I'm struggling with: combination of functional desk items and pretty things and how to style art on a wall behind a desk when the imposing desktop computer screen is in the middle of it??? Hang above/around? what to do?!?! Keep 'em coming! Ha, get the pun? "em" hehehehe …

  95. Crystal

    Keep them coming! Anything and everything you post is interesting, helpful, and entertaining! Thank you!

  96. Erin

    Keep the videos coming! I need more Emily in video form. But I'm loving all of the content on your blog as of late!

  97. Kate

    Super helpful! Thank you!!

  98. I'd love to know how to style my dining room table. I rarely use mine but walk through the room many times a day. A bowl of fruit and two candle sticks isn't cutting it. Also just general accessorizing in a room. You are a master. I don't like a lot of clutter but definitely want to show off my favorite things and add some personality to the room without it feeling messy.

  99. Jeannie

    Emily, can you show us how to style around a TV? They are gross looking but I couldn't live without one :-)

  100. Janelle

    Thank you for this. I was definitely bordering on crazy-person territory with my patterns. Thanks to your post, sanity has been restored. Also, thanks for the great post on Mormons (and the shout out to Natalie. She is a good friend of mine from NYC — and I'm always happy to see her getting some blog love!)

  101. Laura

    Love! Your blog & this new series. I am redoing my upholstery on my sofa after watching this post. So these tips could probably apply to hanging a group of art work, too. Could you do a style tip on how to style "the big blank rental wall" thanks!!

  102. candacekai

    I loved this video. I would love mixing femine and masculaine. I would love shelf styling too.

  103. Ditto all the other comments about how great the videos are! I'd love to see a picture wall styling vid as well as a bathroom styling video. For the ladies. All our stuff, you know?

  104. ashley

    Please keep posting these! They are so helpful and I agree that you should consider making a book someday! I would read it!

  105. Pingback: Top 14 most popular posts of all time … I think | Emily Henderson

  106. Pingback: HOUSE OF HIPSTERS: new prints in the house

  107. Pingback: Mixing pillows and patterns; 7 different ways | Emily Henderson

  108. Pingback: Materials Girl #5 – Coral and Teal Fantasy Suite | Emily Henderson

  109. Pingback: Materials Girl #5 – Coral and Teal Fantasy SuiteiHomeidea - intelligent platform | iHomeidea - intelligent platform