Pattern is present everywhere and seems essential to our well-being, whether it is worn or used in interior environments.
Ancient history shows people decorating themselves and their surroundings by imitating the shapes of beetles, snakes and butterflies on fabrics. The lack of pattern indicates a state of mourning. Status and origin also can be communicated through pattern.For instance, floral chintz is traditionally associated with English grandeur, while layers of ornate white lace depicts purity, as for weddings.
With the onset of mass-production in the 18th century, the copper rollers and block printing process made it possible to produce patterns in repeated fashion. The art of handmade patterns diminished, and with it, much creative originality. Since pleasing the masses was the order of the day, some of the snakes and beetles were left out (thank goodness).
Today there is an abundance of complimentary pattern choices. Coordination is the nature of the game, with the marketing of matching/coordinating bed linens, towels, wallpapers, shower curtains, plates, tablecloths, napkins, writing paper and even cooking utensils.
There's obviously a need for pattern in our lives or there wouldn't be such a market for it.
When it comes to choosing a variety of patterns for one room, a good source of inspiration is decorator magazines. Beautiful room settings filled with color and mixes of patterns help readers see what goes well with what. After browsing through several of these magazines, a sense of what patterns flow well with others will begin to develop.
Stripes and checks might work better than expected if the colors in each are the same and the size of stripe and/or check is in good proportion. Florals do very well with plaids, stripes or checks because they compliment each other. Florals are soft, round and asymmetrical, while the plaids, stripes and checks are neat and orderly in their symmetry.
Patterns drawn with warmth and color harmony will manifest warmth and color in the room. Rhythm can be found in pattern combinations such as serenity or boldness, vigor or drama.
Don't be afraid to combine patterns. The important thing to keep in mind is proportion and color harmony. The rest is just a matter of finding what combination of patterns is most personally appealing.