21 Jul


This was my first Polynesian-inspired design appropriately done for a family in Honolulu.  It’s a play on pattern that takes a modest-sized room of 10′ x 12′ and expands it visually.  The story between the strong graphic elements and the solid colors expand the space and put down the welcome mat.

Patterns are a great way to plus size your space but they can be tricky when overused.  The rule of thumb when it comes to how much pattern vs. solids to put into a space is generally no more than 30% pattern, but who likes rules?  Some may see this space as overkill whereas others may wish there was more.  For the family of four who resides here, the overall transformation from a lifeless, lackluster storage bin to a livable, lush, island-inspired den was well-received.

The key to its success?  Choose an odd number of strong patterns, evenly distribute them throughout the space then make sure they are framed with solid colors.


In this case, the floral draperies, the area rug and the blue Indonesian cabinet were my three strongest graphic elements.  I positioned them in the room so that they are bordered by solid colors.  Along with placing the area rug on an angle and choosing a wall color that echoes the floor and ceiling, the result is a plus sized space that looks larger than it really is yet it remains personal and inviting.

Could you live in a room like this?  Would you like more or less pattern? 

Let me know in the comments below.

Until next time…



    Thank you so much for affirming my desire to use bold drapes to bring life into a warm but neutral family room. My patterned area rug with a geometric print can be complimented with drapes that have a geo pattern in the same color group. Your make overs are right on target as usual! 5 years ago

  • Linda

    I love everything (except the ceiling). The room has a very comfortable feel to it. 5 years ago


    Really this is tricky especially for a home.To complete the design to detail technical help must be consulted.otherwise this is fine for the daring in character 5 years ago

  • Kassie

    Mark, I have the same beams in my 1970s living room with a few track lights down the center that results in poor lighting. The only difference is that my beams make triangles across the ceiling. How did you add the lighting to these beams? Thanks in advance! 5 years ago

  • Michelle

    Great look. Love the mix of patterns. 5 years ago

  • i would like less floral. but other wise the room is great. 5 years ago

  • Carolyn

    Great design! 5 years ago

  • Mark,I love your work! Red is my favorite color. I even have a red sofa. Patterns are tricky with me. I do not, as a rule, go for flowery”patterns so I definitely would have to lose the curtains or lose my mind. You whipped that room together, it looks 1000 times better. That cabinet is absolutely gorgeous. Being totally honest, it is not one I could live in. Please, don’t hate me. :( 5 years ago

  • james

    I like it, however I would wonder how a light pistachio green rug would add a little “cool ” feeling to an already warm room? All in all looks great. 5 years ago

  • Mark

    Thanks for all the comments. Interesting to hear everyone’s different perspective. 5 years ago

    • Mark, I think the room is absolutely Fantastic! I love the boldness of the colors, and the wonderful transformation. I love all of your designs! 5 years ago

  • Mary

    I love it!!! As always you amaze me with your talent in design and color/pattern combinations ! 5 years ago

  • jenn

    Love it – it’s beautiful !!! (not sure about the rug..but still give it 5 stars ) 5 years ago

  • elebetty

    i luv it. you really are the designer wit all the magic! you really inspire me 5 years ago

  • Donna

    I like the boldness and the patterns. I was in Hawaii for Christmas two years ago and this design fits right in! 5 years ago

  • Robin

    It’s absolutely gorgeous and I would love to have your gift of design. We are building a house and I hope I can implement some of your design elements. Love your work. Thank you for sharing!! 5 years ago

  • Nancy

    What a transformation! I love it, especially the floral drapes. It really makes the room look bigger. 5 years ago

  • Interesting choices! I especially enjoy the ambient lighting you added to the wooden ceiling! I do like mixed patterns – from this small thumbnail pic it’s difficult to see the details in the carpet/floor covering and what it REALLY looks like with the Polynesian inspired flower drapes. But WOWZA! A total improvement indeed that IS welcoming! When are you coming to Charleston, SC? I could use your “eye” on purging and placing furniture pieces! Hahaha! We’ve amassed too much for our weird space in the Pink house we reside! Have Mercy! 5 years ago

    • Mark

      Click on the pic and it will enlarge. 5 years ago

      • Well DUH – I don’t know why I didn’t think about mashing that dang button! Thank you! LOVE the details!!! 5 years ago

  • Catherine

    Mark, I usually LOVE what you do, but this one leaves me cold. That being said, it could easily be that the picture doesn’t do it justice. I can usually wrap my head around any style you put out there. I do like the lighed ceiling because it warms the room. I think the drapes are overwhelming in the room. It HAS to be the picture!
    Love you loads and am keeping up with you and your pursuits. Keep up the good work.
    Catherine 5 years ago

  • Mary

    I could do the rug and the furniture, but not the drapery. It’s beautiful, but/and very energetic. I guess my problem would be that I’d like something more relaxing — and that’s a room function issue not a design issue (she typed, having just figured it out)! 5 years ago

  • caroline

    Bold, Strong and Inviting. Love it! 5 years ago

  • Debbie

    I would like less pattern but I am also curious what kind of a budget did you have for this design?? Do you have any suggestions for those with limited budgets?? 5 years ago

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