For traditionalists, one highlight of the holiday season is unearthing the ornaments in the attic and decorating the freshly cut conifer. The smell of the fir or spruce adds a hint of spice to the living room air and the flicker of scented candles with the twinkle of fairy lights on the tree add to the nostalgia and romance of the scene. As we all know, green and red is the tried and true color palette for Christmas. For centuries, evergreens have been displayed in the winter home to both decorate and remind of the coming spring. It is hypothesized that the red originates from apples used in Christmas plays about Adam and Eve and hung on early Christmas trees. Also as the holly branch became an integral part of Christmas decoration in many European cultures the red berries came to signify Christmas. More recently, alternatives to the red and green scheme abound. The gold tree, the silver one, mixed metallics, pink and gold or the all white tree are all popular choices for the slightly more adventurous who are not looking for a cornucopia of color. Like artwork we choose for our home, it's not about matching some existing color scheme. The tree as well as holiday swags, wreaths and garlands don't need to "go with" anything. In that respect we might call them "neutrals." For many there is no fathomable alternative to bringing a bit of the winter landscape indoors by using evergreens. At a time (for us northerners) when the outdoor landscape is brown (or white), adding the green of plant life is a boost for the soon-to-be winter weary. But for those whose taste runs outside of the typical, a tree made without flora is a chance to stretch one's imagination. Many with a modernist temperament, often go with a monochromatic theme and even set against a white, black or gray wall, the results are very festive and quite beautiful. If your taste runs more along these modernist lines, take a look at some striking examples of Holiday Color.
I think mixing patterns creates dynamic and fascinating spaces. It does not appeal to all. For some, it makes a space less harmonious and therefore less peaceful. If monochromatic minimalism is your aesthetic it just won't work for you and that's OK. For we who love interesting juxtapositions, if done right, 1 + 1 will equal 3 by combining diverse patterns in one space. Though there are some good general guidelines, many people who possess the skill of combining patterns effectively do so intuitively. A master of it is the Interior Designer Muriel Brandolini. She is fearless when combining color and pattern though her designs might be considered on the bolder end of the spectrum. The two biggest factors to consider are color and scale. The rules regarding scale are less flexible than those which guide color. Successfully mixing patterns require using patterns of very different scale together. Large, small and medium prints work best when combined. If you stick with all one scale in a room you will overwhelm the space and create an environment which seems both over stimulating and boring at the same time. There are many approaches to choosing colors when combining patterns in one room and all of them can work well. You can use a limited color palette of just a few colors in all of the patterns you choose. This will give you a more controlled feeling in the room. You can use a solid color as your field or background color, for instance using white walls, then use multiple patterns in the rugs, throw pillows and textiles of the curtains and upholstered furniture. It's safest to include at least one large scale solid in the room, be it the walls or a sofa, for instance. Tying the colors together through their relationship to one another can help the cohesion of the room. Using predominantly different shades of the same hue with added accent colors will work. Choosing analogous colors which sit next to one another on the color wheel or complementary colors which sit across from one another, will help create a relationship between the colors in the patterns and unite the room. Still, there are those who are able to put myriad patterns containing many, many different colors together into one room and it just gels. Some things just work and it's senseless to try and decode why. Here are some nice examples of mixing patterns.