Embracing the Past – Mixing Retro Prints and Patterns for a Unique Look

Mixing Retro Prints and Patterns for a Unique Look
Image credit: freepik

The past is filled with many experiences, some good and some bad. Embracing your history means learning to love everything, including the parts that hurt you.

Several patterns are returning this year, blending vintage textiles with modern design elements. These timeless designs include plaids, florals, geometric designs, and paisleys.


Plaid and tartan are similar fabrics — they’re patterned textiles with crisscrossing horizontal and vertical lines in multiple colors. However, plaids are often printed on material rather than woven on the loom, and they don’t have to be as textured.

Luckett says plaids — including tattersall, glen, and madras — play well with other prints. She recently paired her brown Thibaut plaid pillows with florals, chinoiserie, and larger-scale geometric patterns in a rustic living room she designed for a One Room Challenge project.

She recommends pairing plaid with stripes, herringbone, or gingham to keep the look fresh and contemporary. And when it comes to scale, she suggests picking a pattern half the size of your plaid. That way, the two patterns won’t compete visually.


The days when stripes and plaids were a no-no and polka dots weren’t meant to go with florals are long gone! The high-end fashion runways offer plenty of inspiration for breaking the old mix-and-match rules.

Traditional patterns like damask or striped toile work well with florals and other prints. Also, ikat and chevron are neutral enough to pair with almost anything.

With our online retro photo prints, you can transform your favorite photos into astonishing patterns that look like those from an instant camera. And you can even personalize your photo prints with a message! Give them to a loved one or display them on your wall. They’re a great way to capture your memories and keep them from being buried on your computer.


The word “geometrics” may seem a bit dated, but it refers to any pattern with regular lines or shapes. Stripes are considered a geometric design, as are chevrons and herringbone designs. You’ll find a lot of ways that fit in the geometrics category.

Geometric patterns work well with a wide variety of other prints. For example, pair a neutral angular geometric with a floral with gentle curves for a great mix of opposites.

When mixing any pattern, you’ll want to consider scale. The lumbar pillow pictured here has a large scale containing only two distinct lines across the fabric for a minimalist look. The striped pillow to the left has a medium scale and has more lines with less spacing making it busier on the eyes.


Paisleys are a classic pattern on shirts, ties, and dresses. Also known as buta or both, this traditional design is believed to have originated in Persia and India and has since evolved into many shapes, colors, and names. Its popularity rose as the Scottish town of Paisley became the leading producer of Kashmir-inspired shawls.

The paisley’s psychedelic resurgence in the 60s and 70s was fueled by a rise in interest in Indian culture, aided by bands like the Beatles and their love for the design. More recently, Prince paid homage to this iconic motif by creating his eponymous recording label and Paisley Park Studios.

Pairing paisley with other patterns is a great way to add some flare and create a unique look. Try teaming it with striped or checked prints, such as a windowpane or gingham plaid.

Animal prints

Unlike plaids, stripes, damask, and florals, animal prints act like neutrals, making them one of the most accessible patterns to mix. They also tend to make the most significant statement, so it’s important to limit them to keep the look from overwhelming a room. If you’re ready to try animal print, introduce it as accessories, such as a leopard belt or zebra-striped shoes.

Then, move on to upholstered furniture like this living room set, which features pale blue zebra stripes that borrow colors from the surrounding wood furniture and flooring. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even paint a piece of furniture with your chosen pattern. Make sure you use the proper stencils for a successful DIY project!





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