Consider color, size and style when coordinating polka dots and other patterns.

Patterns That Go With Polka Dots

by Karen Watts Perkins

Using polka-dot patterns is an easy choice for decorating. They are versatile, which helps them coordinate with various design styles, and they add a bit of fun to any room. Although they often rank high on the list of home decor trends, polka dots have a quality that makes them not just popular but a pattern considered classic. Pairing them with the right accent patterns creates a space that feels intentionally put together rather than a haphazard mix of styles.

1. Stripes

Stripes are the ultimate counterpoint to a sea of polka dots. Both are classic patterns, but dots tend to be more playful. Whether thick bands of color or trendy zigzag lines, stripes add structure because all the straight edges balance out the round dots. Choose striped fabrics with at least one color found in the polka dot pattern, and keep the rest within the same color intensity. For example, if you have rainbow-hued dots, make sure the stripes' colors are similar primary hues.

2. Floral

Pairing polka dots with floral patterns is an unexpected but pleasing combination. Because polka dots are a simple, repetitive pattern, they can act as a neutral against the more free-flowing, organic lines of a floral fabric. Keep the floral pattern from overwhelming the dots by choosing fabrics for both in the same color scheme. Find a polka-dot and a floral design with the same background shade, or pick a floral fabric with a background the same color as the dots themselves. Harmonizing the colors prevents the space from looking chaotic.

3. Graphic

Graphic patterns such as Greek key, trellis and houndstooth designs, pair well with polka dots because they usually are bolder than the dots or contain straight lines to balance them. A graphic pattern also helps establish a room's style. Houndstooth fabric adds a masculine touch to playful dots, while traditional Greek key accents prevent a space from becoming too child-like. Scale is important with any combination of dots and graphic patterns. If you have small polka dots, a large graphic works, but a large dotted pattern looks better with a small print.

4. Typography

For a room that is anything but boring, choose typography patterns to mix with polka dots. Letters, numbers and punctuation symbols make a big statement wherever they are used, and they bring classic polka dots into the realm of modern design. To make sure the dots can stand up to the visual strength of type, use a pattern of large circles rather than mini dots. Keep both patterns to a simple color scheme. Basic black and white plus an additional primary shade keeps the overall design from being too busy.

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