How to mix and match patterns for digital scrapbook layouts

mixing patterns

All image examples use The Good Life by Zoe Pearn

As I’m working on decorating our new home, I’ve been hitting the books (or actually websites) for some advice on how to put everything together. It’s always helpful to have a bit of a refresher course from time to time and that also holds true for scrapbooking layout and design. I’ve found that a lot of interior decorating advice translates very well to the art of digiscrapping. This is especially true when it comes to mixing and matching patterned papers – it really is just like picking out different fabrics to use together.

One of the most helpful articles I found is on HGTV on how to Mix Patterns like a Pro. Great advice for my home and my layouts!

Odd numbers are best

I’ve already written about how 3 is a magic number, and the decorating gurus agree. The HGTV article suggests that it is always best to pick at least 3 patterns to mix and that if you add more, then odd numbers are most visually pleasing. Here’s my interpretation of  the great tips for how to mix patterns for your scrapbooking projects with some examples for illustration.

Pattern 1: Choose the largest scale pattern first because that is likely to be a focal point. Even if you don’t pick a bold design, it still helps to choose the largest of the patterns first because it will guide your other choices.

pick big and bold first

Pattern 2: Select a pattern design that is about half the scale of the first pattern. This will help you keep a balance in the overall size and keep everything from vying for attention. The key is to coordinate, not compete.

reduce the scale

Pattern 3 and so on: The third pattern (and any other additional choices) should have similar colors as the other selections and be smaller in scale than the first pattern. It’s nice to use some variation when mixing such as combing florals, plaids, and checks, or circles, chevrons, and houndstooth. Remember to keep it interesting, but not overwhelming.


Use the same intensity of color throughout your choices – don’t mix muted tones with bright, vibrant colors. Pastels don’t feel right when paired with primary colors.

similar color intensity

Look to the pros for guidance

Browse through your favorite layouts or an online gallery and study how others use patterns that mix and match each other. You will start to get a feel for what types of combinations appeal the most to your style.

August 30, 2012<br /> Reese on her very first day of 5th grade!! Man I can’t believe how big she is getting and how fast she is growing up - right before my very eyes!! Baby girl you are such a unique and special little girl and I want you to remember that, please don’t be in too much of hurry to grow up. Enjoy your childhood and all the joy and freedom that comes with. Son you will have responsibilities and you will long for those carefree days of your youth!! Enjoy being my little girl, because remember you always will be, no matter what!!</p> <p>CREDITS<br /> The Good Life by Zoe Pearn (SSD).<br /> Template Set 133 by Cindy Schneider (SSD).<br /> Font: LD Shelly Script.

Link to credits

Digital scrapbook designers put a lot of thought into the combination of papers and embellishments that they include in a kit. Great designers will usually have a mix of patterned papers that intentionally work well together. Rely on the designer’s artistic eye to help you with your choices and don’t be afraid to use their own team layouts or preview samples to guide you. Notice how the designer pairs patterns together and take a look at how they work as a whole.

look to designers

Most importantly, have fun and experiment a little. The nice thing about being a digital scrapbooker is you can also hit that undo button if it doesn’t work out!

katie big