3 Tips for Decorating With Graphic Prints

Relax, working with geometry within the realm of design does not require measuring angles or solving complicated formulas. In fact, it’s an easy aesthetic to apply to virtually any room, regardless of the size, shape or way it’s used. The motifs always feel fresh and clean and the pattern selections are infinite. Geometrics can be paired with any décor, from traditional to ultra-modern, and it’s simple to experiment with the look by using accessories like throw pillows, curtains, area rugs and other pieces that can easily be changed.

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Strong But Subtle

Geometrics aren’t always about print. Patterns can be woven into fabric to produce a subdued effect that complements many different styles. “I like to layer geometric patterns with rugs and throw pillows, and prefer more subtle or tone-on-tone combinations that add interest without being overpowering,” said Port Washington-based designer Christina Byers. “This allows other furnishings, colors and patterns to be integrated into the palette harmoniously without the room feeling overdone.”

Monochromatic subtlety can also work its magic in wall coverings, carpeting, faceted glass or ceramic bowls, sculptural pieces and embossed metallic accessories. Byers likes to use a classic herringbone pattern in a single color for a tile backsplash in a large kitchen. She has found it makes a statement without being overwhelming. She indicated that although many of her clients like the trend, they’re more open to using it in a smaller, less central space like a powder room or foyer because “it’s less of a commitment than having it in the main living space.” Another stroke of the application is heavily embossed wallpapers that can either be left white, for a very modern pop art look, or painted to blend with the décor. It takes old-school flocking to a whole new level.

Big and Bold

image: kate singer home photo by john bessler

image: kate singer home photo by john bessler

Fortune favors the bold and going for big shapes can add a touch of drama. Careful pairing and an eye for balance make this look work in any size room. Designer Kate Singer of Huntington finds the graphic shapes lend themselves to adding “a fresh, current look to even the most traditional interiors…and a bit of energy and excitement to an otherwise quiet setting.”

Singer is a fan of patterned grass cloth and uses it in Kelly green when clients want to make a strong statement on a feature wall. She has also used striking applications of color to up the “wow” factor in a nursery with a bright orange rug, print curtains, a rib-knit throw and a few orange throw pillows with square embroidery that heightens the right angles of the pillow. Even the lighting fixture featured cut-outs that reflected patterns on the ceiling. But what made this room work, without being too intense, was the tone-on-tone white couch and white embossed vinyl cubes used as coffee tables. Stark, clean white acts as the perfect foil to balance eye-catching prints.

Mix & Match

Lisa Aiello of Rich Designs in Port Jefferson loves blending styles, especially when it comes to adding mod shapes to traditional spaces. “Mixing things up gives the room a feeling of timelessness.” She added that this trend is growing and soon to be a staple—she’s finding it in everything from cabinetry to lighting to flooring. When working in a more traditional setting, she recommended coordinating the colors in the geometric accents with the main colors in the room. Singer also likes the “less is more” approach, introducing these patterns onto neutral backdrops. Byers will even pair them with animal prints to create a more natural feel.

There are also many exotic patterns that are both subtle and elegant. Lattice-work wood screens from the Middle East and India add an element of texture that, depending on where they’re placed, will project a changing pattern on the wall as light shifts through a room. A Greek key motif is also an unusual choice for embroidered pillows or bedding (albeit one that is growing in popularity). And tiles, both ancient and modern in look, are another way of integrating the intrigue in a bathroom or foyer floor. It all depends on the homeowner’s sensibility and willingness to take chances: adding the quiet color palette of French cement tiles within a contemporary setting or blending modern accessories with the bright hues of Spanish or Italian ceramic tiles. For an ultramodern monochromatic touch that can be paired with just about anything, stainless steel tiles make a bold backsplash in an all-white kitchen whether all one size and shape or a mix of both.

annette rose-shapiro

annette rose-shapiro

Annette Rose-Shapiro writes about decor, interior design, art and architecture. She is currently working on a short documentary about the creative process.