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Layering is a classic interior design technique — mixing and matching patterns and textures to add depth and interest to your living space. And this approach isn’t losing its luster; it just keeps getting more intriguing. It even made our annual list of interior design trends to watch again this year! Whether you’re mixing metals and textiles or overlapping unexpected prints, here are some suggestions for how to approach layering in your own home — and how not to.

Living room with neutral tones and brick above fireplace
Layering patterns and textures can mean the difference between a mediocre design and a memorable one. Here are some tips to achieve the look in your own home! Image: Kerry Kirk

Plan ahead.

Planning a room design before you begin the creative process sounds easy enough, right? But sometimes, our excitement over seeing the finished product prevents us from having the patience we need to make our layering efforts shine. “Layering takes time and intention,” says Houston-based interior designer Mimi Meacham, founder of Marian Louise Design. “You won’t find everything for a space at one time. Your selections and pieces should be collected, found, and inspired. This is what makes for the best-layered spaces!”

Oven range with pearl subway tiles behind granite island
This kitchen design combines an eye-catching pearl tile and classic granite for an exquisitely layered kitchen. Earthy elements like copper and rustic wood offset an infusion of greenery. Image: Kerry Kirk
Triptych in a seating area with green velvet chairs
Planning ahead means thoughtfully curating layered vignettes and artwork like this beautiful triptych. Image: Ellen Renee

Add one layer at a time.

Much like a painting, where each new stroke adds dimension and depth, a layered room design takes on new levels of interest each time you add another pattern or texture. But the question becomes, how much is too much? When it comes to the “rules” of layering, Mimi tells us, “Play around with what you have first, and then add in one new pattern or texture at a time until you feel like it’s finished. Doing it all at once makes for a higher chance that you overdo it.”

Bedroom with colorful wallpaper and whimsical art
A child’s bedroom is a place where layers can help whimsy meet sophistication. Image: Ellen Renee

Opposites attract. Use them to your advantage!

The age-old saying that “opposites attract” may not always be true when it comes to relationships, but interior design is a different story. Mixing elements and juxtaposing prints can be the most captivating aspect of layering. Take, for example, a bright white wall offset by black window trim or dark flooring — the classic contrast is timeless! But contrast can be accomplished in many ways — an oversized modern light fixture over a vintage dining table, a cozy, plush sofa against a sleek living room wallpaper backdrop, or a statement rug in a monochromatic bedroom. “You want to combine large-scale patterns with small-scale patterns,” explains Mimi. “Warm or cool undertones with the like. Different textures play well together too.”

Close-up of bedroom bench with patterned pillows
Here, Mimi pairs large- and small-scale patterns to create interest on a bedroom bench. Image: Kerry Kirk

Don’t be afraid to try out less-than-obvious combinations.

An eye-catching design landscape doesn’t always rely on obvious choices. “Layering creates a ‘lived-in,’ collected, and intentional look,” says Mimi. “All of the elements come together to create the desired look and feel, and when done right, it feels like a feast for the eyes!” For inspiration, head to antique stores, fabric and wallpaper showrooms, and flip through design magazines. Pinterest is always a great source of ideas, too. But most of all, don’t be afraid to combine elements that might not be a clear-cut pairing — that’s often when the magic happens!

wide angle of office with dark wood desk, bookshelves, a wall mural and a bay window.
With books and art galore, this office space embraces layers through rich color and texture. Image: Kerry Kirk
Office with bookshelves, artwork, and a dark wood desk.
A closer view of the office shows the beautiful contrast of various wood grains and artwork upon artwork. Image: Kerry Kirk

Don’t use layers in every room.

If every room in your house is a tribute to the layering trend, chances are, you’ll wind up overdoing it. Additionally, not every room in your home is conducive to layering. In fact, Mimi says you should stick to simplicity when it comes to specific spaces. “Less is more when it comes to bathrooms, laundry rooms, and workout rooms,” she tells us. The good news is that essentially every other room in the house is fair game — from hallways, offices, living rooms, and sunrooms to breakfast nooks, kitchens, dining rooms, and bedrooms.

Dining room with green chairs and roses artwork
“I have a wide range of affinities when it comes to texture, colors, and prints,” says Mimi. “That said, I tend to gravitate the most to pops of color paired with warm neutrals, modern florals, and fresh but indulgent textures.” Image: Ellen Renee


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Jenna Bratcher
About the Author
Jenna Bratcher

Jenna Bratcher is StyleBlueprint Nashville’s Associate Editor and Lead Writer. The East Coast native moved to Nashville 16 years ago, by way of Los Angeles. She is a lover of dogs, strong coffee, traveling, and exploring the local restaurant scene bite by bite.