share post

A Calm Home {While Decorating with Color & Pattern}

by | May 16, 2013 | Decorating Inspiration

This Post May Contain Affiliate Links. Please Read Our Disclosure Policy here

A Calm Home {While Decorating with Color & Pattern}BHG

Calm Home

With the crazy pace of life, many of us crave a calm and peaceful home. But is a visually peaceful home possible if you love color and pattern and decorating with what you love?

While I love to decorate with color and pattern and appreciate having surfaces I can use for the things I love to look at, one of the challenges in decorating is paring down visual clutter in a room without sacrificing your own personal style.

I’m not referring to reducing the kind of clutter we get from junk or excess stuff laying around, that is another kind of problem all together! I’m referring to what our eyes interpret as visual clutter — the things we added on purpose, perhaps through collections, use of pattern and color, or attempts at styling.

A Calm Home {While Decorating with Color & Pattern}BHG

If you picture a room with four walls and multiple surfaces, and many colors and patterns within those walls, there is a lot of potential for visual clutter. Everyone has a different tolerance level for that kind of clutter and there is no “one size fits all” decorating rule.

Some may not be able to tolerate any decor on any surface or can only tolerate all white walls and simple color palettes, but many people really enjoy looking at things they love and filling their home with color and lively pattern.

A Calm Home {While Decorating with Color & Pattern}BHG

The room above is very restful due to the soothing neutral color palette on the furniture, white walls and lack of a lively mix of patterns. The console table has a single lamp and a small stack of books, but nothing more. It is definitely a nice calm room, but the absence of color and pattern is not the only way to achieve a peaceful space.

If you aren’t into all neutral or minimalist style and feel more at home with color and pattern like I do, can you still achieve a balance between what you love and creating a calm peaceful home? I say YES!

One of the secrets to a healthy balance of calm and quiet among the color of every day living is to designate areas of the room that will be visual clutter free zones. 

A Calm Home {While Decorating with Color & Pattern}


Notice in the beautiful living room above there is plenty of color and pattern, but the room still seems to offer a sense of order and calm. Every surface has something decorative on it and the room has both color and pattern, so the solution to limiting visual clutter in this room isn’t in clear tables or soothing color palettes.

So how does this room, above, have a good balance of both worlds?

Besides the fact that these rooms are all clean and free of day to day messes, I think one of the secrets is the measure of ‘white space’ is in a calming proportion to the color and pattern.

The surface of the walls, curtains and sofas are white (or in other words, they are plain surfaces that are without pattern) allowing the eyes to enjoy the more vibrant color and pattern without becoming overwhelmed by them. The backdrop and main furniture serve as a visual clutter free zone.

TIP: Designate several visual clutter free areas of a room in order to focus your creative energy on a just a few lively focal points.

In spite of the happy colors, pattern and display of decorative items in the room above, this balance still allows breathing space to exhale and feel at peace for color and pattern lovers like me!

I do feel creatively energized by contrast, pattern and color and love to be surrounded by things that inspire me, but I also can get overwhelmed by too much stuff if my eyes have no place to rest. I feel much more at home in a room that can incorporate the things I love in proper balance with white or other visual clutter free surfaces.

A Calm Home {While Decorating with Color & Pattern}

This room, above, also has a lively mix of patterns and color, balanced by the simple white unadorned windows. Even the orange sofa, while clearly a vibrant color, is a solid which gives your eyes a little rest from the other pattern in the room.

Notice that you do not have to have white furniture to achieve visual calm! Also note that the surfaces in this room are not empty, but the baskets above and below the coffee table corral visual clutter.

TIP: Simple bold or larger statements will be more striking and yet less visually distracting that a surface filled with many little items.

Several of these rooms offer another secret to eliminating visual clutter.

Notice that many of the end tables just have one lamp and little to no other decorative items. Putting just one lamp on an end table is a great way to balance out a styled coffee table that may have several items on it.

TIP: If you love to decorate your coffee table, as I do, consider balancing your decor out with a clear or nearly empty surface or two else where in the room. A clear surface can be a table, but it could also be a piece of furniture or an undecorated wall.

I think you can definitely enjoy the best of both worlds — a home filled with the things you love, alive with color and pattern — and a home that feels peaceful and orderly. It just requires a little bit of a balancing act!

Do you think it is possible to have a balance of lively and calm all in one home?

A Calm Home {While Decorating with Color & Pattern}

Check out my new book, Love the Home You Have!

A Calm Home {While Decorating with Color & Pattern}

A Calm Home {While Decorating with Color & Pattern}


  1. Grace

    Lovely rooms.. my living room only looks like that when the family is not home :-)
    I try& keep my big front porch , entry & dining room pretty & Clutter free .. but allow a bit of a mess in the living room. Grandma Smith always said , keep your back/front porch clean , it may be the only room some people may ever see :_)
    In the kitchen if the island is clutter free & set with a beautiful plant or cake stand ,( with cookies or cake of course ) then the rest of the kitchen gets a pass :-)
    a clean home is an empty home :-) & that’s just no fun..

  2. Louise

    WELL! I’ve gathered from going blog to blog to blog the past few years that everybody’s got white sofas and loveseats and chairs! They look so great! They create the calm and allow the pattern. But no matter what you or anyone else says, white fabric would not survive here. I have realized, though, that white space is key, in wall color, trim especially, and not an antique or yellow white, and in strategic accents of lamps, artwork, etc. So bearing down on us is the redo of our small family room, for which I’ve accumulated almost all the furnishings and only need to decide on which white, a challenge that seems endemic across all blogs and commenters. Boy howdy, I’m excited: our current tan walls with shabby-chic-style red with white flowered sofa/loveseat, a patterned area rug in vivid hues, and various tables and stuff–will become a room with very light gray walls w white-white trim, PB’s khaki slipcovers for sofa/loveseat, a new pretty but fairly bland area rug, and possibly a new slipper chair for a bit of fun pattern, along with such new lamps as can be acquired or renovated. Hoping the new bronze/amber velveteen long drapery waiting in the attic will be the offset of warmth I’m hoping for, with the old pine plank floor. To answer the question of the lively/calm balance, I’ve gotta believe it’s possible because I’m going for it!

  3. Jennifer

    My favorite rooms are ones that have a neutral background with pops of color throughout. If done well, they don’t “pop” out at you, but fit in the room perfectly. I recently toured an amazing home, but what drove me crazy was the lack of prints and color. Everything was white, tan, and gray in solid fabrics. Even though there was plenty of texture to somewhat make up for it and it was very well done, it felt like it was missing something.

    • Melissa

      I know what you mean, as a lover of color and pattern, many beautiful neutral rooms feel like they are missing something! I need that contrast to be happy I guess! :-)

  4. ShellHawk

    I love these examples and would just love to have a place like that! But clutter free in my house is a foreign concept because of dog beds and dog toys, and my occasional use of my dining table as a place to glaze my ceramics and sculpture! And light colors? Can’t do those as they show all the dog dirt; they sneak up on the couches the minute we leave the house to nap. Lol!
    That said, you have a wonderful eye for pattern and visual interest!

    • Melissa

      Fortunately we don’t have to have all light or white furniture in order to have a calm home. And we don’t have to have a pet-free home either haha. I love the orange sofa and patterned chairs in one of the above photos, it just goes to show that a nice balance can be achieved no matter what your preferences in furniture or pets are. :-)

  5. Faith

    I need to find that calm in my home; probably more from the day to day living clutter than anything. But starting out purposefully leaving space in decor to rest the eye is what I need to do. Thanks for the inspiration.

  6. Sandra at Thistle Cove Farm

    Such a balance is possible if that is one’s preference. What bothers me far more in the majority of your photos is the inability to navigate *comfortably* around the furniture. It’s shoved so close together there’s no possibility of moving to/from seating without having to step OVER someone’s knees or push aside furniture. That’s far more unacceptable than mixing patterns and colors; I’m not a fan of neutrals or mono-palettes as they are boring, not calming, to my eye.
    Decorating “rules” only work if one binds oneself to them. I don’t. It’s far more important to me to have a home that can take some spills with a LOT of life happening – humans, dogs and cats – than going for perfection. Perfection can *never* be attained nor sustained; my time is better spent in living.
    As always, yours is an enjoyable post with thought provoking questions; thank you.

    • Melissa

      Yes, that impractical or crunched together furniture is pretty common in magazine photos or even on some blogs trying to “stage” their room to look prettier. The furniture arrangements that look great or work best in real life are often different than what might look good in photos. That bothers me sometimes in my own home if I want to show something that doesn’t translate as well to pictures, but I do try to show my own house exactly as it really is without all the staged smooshed together furniture.

      But of course it is the color and pattern inspiration is what I’m after for my purposes here in these photos. And what you mention about wanting to focus on living rather than perfection is exactly why I love color and pattern, they blend well in real life and allow me to love living in my home! No perfection necessary!

  7. Isis

    Thanks Melissa!
    That came at the right time! I was just wondering if I should or not choose a color for my walls, and now I know what to do: keep the plain white, because I have plenty of printed cushions, flower and stripes and a warm light brown printed rug.

  8. Sharon B.

    Great post! I’m trying to do this same thing in our master bedroom right now – incorporating color which I love but still making it calm and restful. This makes so much sense and is very helpful. Thank you! Sharon

  9. Laura

    How about 1 lamp and a 1,000 piece puzzle on the sofa table? And one Larry Boy puzzle and one Fancy Nancy puzzle on the coffee table? Enjoyed seeing the spaces and reading your tips. Not quite that serene a season of life here right now. Instead, we have a season FULL of life and noise and puzzles and indoor scooter-riding. And I wouldn’t trade it!

    • Melissa

      Same here, we too have a life full of noise and fun and even a game or puzzle on the table! I think it is because of all that wonderful cherished noise of LIVING that I embrace areas of “calm” in my home more than ever. In fact, the louder the house gets, the more I appreciate it! :-) Wouldn’t trade the “noise of living with what we love” for anything!

  10. Tanya

    I love these rooms! I’m afraid my living room will never look like this until my son is grown and out of the house.(he is only 3 now) haha

  11. Barbara (WA)

    This is really interesting and helpful! I have tended to feel most peaceful with simple color stories, i.e blue with pops of red in a white room. But I also tend to buy very vibrant artwork and find it challenging to mix it in. As I’ve been trying to decorate the master bedroom, I realize I need a harmonious color scheme and simple decor. This post is food for thought, thank you!


    I know it is possible to have color and contrast in a room and still make it visually calm. I have to have a calm enviroment and also I have to have color. I so agree about keeping visual clutter out of a space. I say big is better less is more. I just redid my family room and it was a very fine line for me when it came to accesorizing. It is down to a minimum and I love my new room. No clutter in my rooms only in my closets and garage, lol

  13. Sara Silver

    I love the idea of starting with a neutral and then adding color until you find the right balance for your home. The best part of that is how easy it is to change things up with the seasons or new tastes in color and style. Keeping everythings simple is what makes the colors really work…thanks for the post!

  14. Patricia Cresswell

    I am late joining the conversation but just had to say this was a great article. I was searching ‘how to add calm to a colourful room’ and your article popped up!! It was so helpful – I love colour and try to use a ‘tight colour palette’ but I have been stumped at what colour to choose for drapes- I now have my answer thanks to his article :) Your notes for each picture helped me recognize the tweaks I can implement in my own decorating.
    Thank you, thank you!!!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

browse categories:

browse archives:

let’s stay connected!

Follow for daily
Home Inspiration:

get my free decorating guide

home decor inspiration, free downloads,
and more, straight to your inbox