Solutions to Interior Design Dilemmas: What to do when there is too much pattern in a room?!

interior design clip artSuppose you have pulled together a room that looked beautiful from your sample fabric cuttings. You carefully selected the fabrics, laid them out on a table, and decided which one went where…. And it all looked amazing…. On the table, that is.  Then, the fabrics arrive, and lo and behold… the once-perfect collection now looks like an amazing mess!  Oh yes, even the professionals have experienced this scenario at one time or another!  Perhaps the pattern at the windows was too strong… Or, maybe the sofa upholstery didn’t turn out quite like you had intended. Perhaps, the room is overwhelmed by the fabric selections.

Well, here is what I do to remedy the situation. First, (after praying of course!!!!!!) I let my eye adjust.  Maybe I have seen the room empty for too long. I walk away for a minimum of 2 days.  Yes, I already know all of your protests… You wanted to go ahead and start enjoying the space… Or, you may have even been planning a little gathering in the room. However, if you want to avoid making two mistakes, then your best option is to take the time to walk away.  Give your mind and eye a chance to process the problem and determine the best solution.

Next, when returning to the room, obtain a 2nd opinion.  Do not get your best girlfriend! Get a trained professional.  If you are a designer, then develop a professional circle and/or use the trained eye of an assistant or fellow designer. Fortunately, I have a fabulous design assistant whose words of wisdom I trust.  We make a great team and often “talk through” all the possible solutions to a design challenge.  In the end, we determine a strategy that best fits the specific dilemma.


This room, shown on, features a bold fabric on the window treatments that is accented with similar colors on the sofa.

Finally, “camouflage” the problem!  This is my “rabbit from a hat” trick.  It is best, when possible, to simply “trick the eye”.  Many design dilemmas can be solved using this technique.  (My hunting husband would hoot and holler if he heard me say that I use “camouflage” in my work!!!  He thinks camouflage is the greatest thing on Earth!!!)  What I really mean by “camouflage”  is to find a way to divert attention from the choice that is not working.  For instance, suppose you have chosen a bad wall color. A solution might include “absorbing” the color with luscious fabrics and a bold statement elsewhere in the room. And voila…. Watch the wall color disappear!  Too much pattern?  Beef up the rug, or perhaps, soak up the excessive pattern with a plush, shaggy rug that makes a strong statement. What if the room is too busy, and the eye can’t find a place to rest? Start editing, and then soften the look with a strong solid or two.  Room too narrow? Camouflage with horizontal stripes.  Room too short? Try some vertical stripes! Look at at how the window treatments in the photo below draw the eye upward and toward the wall.

traditional home

Photo from Traditional Home.

The home of fellow blogger and interior designer, Tobi Fairley, was recently featured in Traditional Home magazine. Take a look at some of her delicious pattern combinations….

traditional home

traditional hometraditional home

traditional home


No matter what the dilemma, I have never met a room with a challenge that couldn’t be conquered.  Occasionally, the solution has been to “back up and punt” (And yes, even we professionals have had this happen a time or two!).  It is prudent – and often tricky – to know when this option is the best solution. Generally, I come to this conclusion when the expense of fixing the problem is simply too costly to justify. However, I mostly find that if you can think outside the box and seek the help of a professional, an effective solution exists for almost any design dilemma.  In fact, I have often concluded that the modified plan actually ends up being far better than the originally intended idea!  You know the old saying…..“Necessity is the mother of all invention!”   I say, no matter what, don’t “live with” the dilemma. This is your home, and you should experience the joy of “living beautifully”!

Have you ever encountered a design dilemma in your home? If so, share it by posting a comment. What solution did you find for your challenge?

If you need help with your own design dilemma, please contact me to set up an online or in-home consultation!

Now, go have an “It’s So Fabulous!” Day!


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Stylish, sophisticated and dramatic, Kimberly Grigg brings her unique talents to client’s homes across the country and to her retail boutique, Knotting Hill Interiors. An award winning retail boutique and an award winning full service design firm, Knotting Hill offers luxury interior design, renovation and remodeling services, custom design, childrens rooms and nurseries and accessorizing. The retail boutique sells fabric, home furnishings, retail design, lamps, accessories, art, upscale furniture consignment, gifts, fashion and jewelry. Voted “Best on the Beach” in both retail and design, our customers say that this place and this process is truly “enchanted”! Knotting Hill Interiors is based in Myrtle Beach South Carolina and is located at 7751 North Kings Hwy.