Are you one of those people who knows what you like when you see it, but you’re not quite sure how to put different things together? Take fabrics, for example — people have a hard time putting them together, whether for window treatments, bedding or accent pillows throughout the house.

Well, here’s a tip for you. When I’ve narrowed it down to the last few choices, I like to take a picture. Looking at the photos on my phone or iPad gives me a different perspective, as if I’m looking at it in a magazine. Let’s face it: It’s easier to critique than create.


So recently, when I was out shopping for a blue fabric for a client’s sectional sofa, I did just that. Here are the results.


The room is a mix of neutrals: grays, tans and browns with pops of blue and white. So I laid out a swatch of gray, which is similar to the leather sectional, along with a swatch from the chair, a fabric with a bold cream and brown graphic pattern. My goal was to find a blue pattern to work with these.

In the first photo, you’ll see a blue that I loved. It has cream lines that tie in to the Kente. But the size of the pattern is too big and the triangular shape goes in a different direction. I wanted something more harmonious.



The second fabric was too boring. The pattern is small, making it feel more like a texture. From farther away, it would look like a solid blue, which was not what I wanted.

Ultimately, I chose the Ralph Lauren fabric (photo on right) because the lines go in a similar direction, it’s subtle and offers color, and rather than overshadowing the graphic fabric, it complements it.

So, the next time you’re scratching your head and wondering how to create a space, take out your camera and become a critic. It’s easier.


Cathy Lee is a home style expert, speaker, and president and designer of Cathy Lee Style. Her workshops have taught more than 2,000 people the basics of DIY designer style, and her redesigns of residential and business spaces have been featured in local and national publications and on HGTV. For more info and inspiring photos of design projects visit