When furnishing a living room, most people desire an end result that matches or coordinates to some degree. While the easiest way to accomplish this is to purchase a couch and chairs with identical frame styles covered in identical upholstery, if the upholstery is patterned it can mean too much visual clutter, but if it's solid the look can be rather boring. Instead, try mixing and matching your couch and chair fabrics and frame styles to create a look that is visually interesting and at the same time coordinated and pulled together.
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Look for fabrics that incorporate the same colors. For example, stripes and florals mix well and can look very good together if their colors are the same. Also consider texture, as different textures create visual interest in fabrics of the same color. The key is to create a combination that is visually interesting without being too busy or cluttered. Practice mixing and matching before you make any purchases.
Keep the frame styles of your couch and chairs within similar families. For example, if you have a very straight, spare, modern couch, it won't coordinate well with an ornate Victorian chair. While there is no need to match frames exactly, pairing casual with casual, modern with modern and formal with formal gives a cohesive look.
Ask a furniture store salesperson to show you furniture groups that have coordinating pieces. Most furniture makers offer collections with professionally coordinated fabrics to make the mixing and matching process simple for their customers. Even if you are coordinating pieces you already own and are not in the market for new furniture, studying professionally matched furniture collections can give you valuable ideas and help sharpen your fabric mixing skills.
Use mainly solid colors and accent them with prints for an almost foolproof way to coordinate fabrics. For example, choose a couch out of one solid color, a chair out of another, and a second chair out of a pattern that incorporates both the solid colors. Solid colors are preferred by many decorators on larger pieces as they are visually restful. One chair in a pattern can add plenty of interest to the room. Compare coordinating furniture to coordinating your wardrobe: A solid color shirt and slacks look terrific with a patterned scarf or tie, but dressing head-to-toe in pattern day after day is just too much.
Consider pairing two identical chairs with your sofa. The twin chairs offer cohesion and allow you to create a symmetrical furniture layout with the couch in the middle and the chairs flanking the couch, facing each other. The symmetry of this classic layout adds to the cohesive look of the room. This layout can give the illusion of a coordinated room, even if your couch does not coordinate particularly well with the chairs.
Tie your couch and chairs together with pillows. Have several made from your couch's upholstery, several made from your chairs' upholstery, and several made from a third coordinating fabric. Place a few that match the chairs on the couch, and a few that match the couch on your chairs, and place pillows from the third fabric on both the couch and the chairs. If you have chosen fabrics that coordinate and complement one another well, mixing the pillows will give you a very a professional look with instant cohesion.