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10 experts tips on layering print, pattern and colour for home interiors

  • Colours
By Rachana Nakra
7 min read
Jun 22, 2020


“The simplest route is to have a white or neutral base and layer it with colour and prints. We probably began like that too,” Jasem Pirani co-founder of design firm MuseLAB tells us. Known for their playful design language created through a mix of colour, textures and prints, we asked Jasem and Huzefa Rangwala (the other half of MuseLAB) to give us an insight into their process. Going bold with colour and pattern in your home décor can be intimidating for most people. “Initially it was about adding layers of colour with solids and textures. Then we began adding prints as geometric elements. This mostly was with upholstered elements. Soon the patterns and prints started traversing surfaces from walls to floors and we found ourselves wrapped in a whimsical world. We realized that these are tools that are enhancing our storytelling narrative and therefore it soon became a part of our aesthetic,” Huzefa explains. 

The home has a unique play of colours, textures, and prints that have helped create the spaces inside this large home. To just call the design quirky and playful would be to minimize the studied play of material and styles and the thoughtful detailing. Adding patterns, prints and colours can be intimidating and a nightmare for some but with the understanding of a few basic principles one can confidently break the rules or not and create spaces with bold elements. Known for their expertise in layering colours and prints, we asked the team at MuseLAB to share 10 tips and ideas on having bold patterns and colours in your home. Watch the complete video to find out more on what they had to say!

The duo loves any colour from the free-spirited teal family, while organic prints and chevron and houndstooth pattern have their heart. According to them most people fear colour because they are afraid of making the wrong choices and ending up with a colour and pattern overload. Some people living in cities also fear colour because the urban fabric already creates sensory overload and so when they come home they want to feel comfortable and be at ease. “With the right proportions and hues of colour within a space, it is possible to experience calmness. The right prints at the right scales can also add to the warmth of a space,” says Jasem. In the video on this page they show us how they incorporated their style in a home they designed in Pune. You can take a full tour of that home here.

Adding patterns, prints and colours can be a challenge for some but with the understanding of a few basic principles, one can confidently break the rules or not and create spaces with bold elements. Jasem and Huzefa give us their tips and ideas that anyone can use:

Patterns in monochromatic spaces 
If someone prefers monochromatic spaces they can still layer a space with patterns. For example, you can have a large geometric pattern on the flooring, a wall painted in a monochromatic mural or a wallpaper with a pin-striped accent chair sitting in front of it. Layered patterns can vary in scale but should belong to the same colour family.
 

Pattern in colourful spaces
If you are ready to create a space with vibrant colours and a cheerful vibe, then it is best to paint your space in a neutral colour and layer it with patterns. Picture a vertical element - it could be a storage unit or artwork in a black and white pattern, which forms the backdrop for a coral shaded chaise with a floral print armchair in the foreground. The furniture is then anchored by a shaded grey rug.

If you are ready to create a space with vibrant colours and a cheerful vibe, then paint your space in a neutral colour and layer it with patterns. Photography by Prachi Damle

Using one bold element
If you want to hero one bold pattern it is best to anchor your living room furniture with a bold geometric rug or flooring. Then layer the space with a sunshine yellow or another solid coloured self-textured couch and monochromatic cushions.
 

Combining two bold patterns
Picture a contemporary cubist style pattern for the flooring which is then layered with a hand-knotted geometric rug with larger forms.
 

Playing it safe
If you have a fairly neutral space and would like to play it safe, all elements within the space can be solids and made using natural materials. For example, a solid Shahabad floor layered with a Bali stone tiled tabletop. The patterns can be subtle and the natural variation within the material helps elevate the patterns and feel of the space.
 

Mix pattern and texture
You can try something like this for your bathroom – Clad the bathroom walls in a hexagonal tile which forms a pattern in itself and has a subtle marble-like texture to it. The contrasting elements could be the floor and the basin which are clad and made in a more solid but leather texture stone or tile.

A monochromatic checkered print upholstered bed with a bright coloured corner stitch detail. Photography by Sameer Tawde

Pattern control 
A monochromatic checkered print upholstered bed with a bright coloured corner stitch detail, along with a rug with a larger geometric pattern. The rug borrowing colours from the palette of the bed is a smart way of controlling the pattern play.
 

Patterns centered around an artwork
If you have an artwork that you love, the artwork can take center stage within a space and form the basis of the colour palette or the design. Then other elements can borrow and relate to the artwork within that space.

Creating patterns with a play of light
If there is an opportunity to have screens and grills, then one can choreograph an interesting play of light and shadow within the space to create patterns.
 

Be aware of scale and size
A mistake that people often make is that they are not conscious or aware of the space size, lighting within the space, and the best placement of elements and objects. Two elements that may look great individually may not necessarily work well together. Layering with knowledge of scale, lighting and visual texture is essential.
 

Once you gain the confidence you will easily be able to layer multiple prints and patterns in varying colours and achieve a happy free-spirited space. 

Layered patterns can vary in scale but should belong to the same colour family. Photography by Sameer Tawde
If you want to hero one bold pattern, anchor your living room furniture with a bold geometric rug or flooring. Photography by Sameer Tawde
Create subtle pattern and texture play in your bathroom.
Combine two bold patterns in your living room. Photography by Suleiman Merchant
Use screens and grills for an interesting play of light and shadow within the space to create patterns. Photography by Suleiman Merchant
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