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.
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!”
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.”
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.”
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!
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.
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