Cohesiveness in a Chaotic World

Have you ever walked through a décor or furniture store or been visiting someone and admired the mix of colours, patterns and textures? Invariably the next thought is, “oh my, I could never do that!” Creating a cohesive design and look isn’t as difficult or tricky as you might think; with some fundamental understanding of colour, scale and the rule of 3 (what I refer to as the ‘rule of odd’), anyone can bring balance to their space with bold, contrasting prints.

From triptychs to tripod tables, three-based designs have been used for centuries. The basic idea is this: Two contrasting patterns cause visual conflict, but three patterns create balance and cohesion. The key is to emphasize design details that pull the look together — such as utilizing rhythmic, curvilinear patterns to achieve balance between organic florals and graphic stripes.

Pillows on a chair

Of course, it’s not quite as simple as throwing any three floral, curvy lined and striped patterns together. Picking prints with similar or complementary colors is the quickest way to create cohesion. This might mean choosing prints that are all in the same color family, or selecting single-color stripes and arabesques in shades pulled from a multi-coloured floral pattern.

These three contrasting patterns work best together when there is a clear difference in scale — namely small, medium and large. Whether modern or traditional, your largest, most dominant pattern will make the biggest impact in terms of style and color palette. Your medium pattern should be about half the size of the large one and will add dramatic contrast, while the smallest will act as visual texture.


And experiment! Playing with patterns, textures and colours is fun and through this you’ll discover what is pleasing to you and maybe find a combination that you had never considered and is suddenly a favourite! Enjoy!