Few Denver-based designers are as well known for color- and pattern-forward design as Katie Schroder, owner and lead designer of Atelier Interior Design. “It’s kind of our jam,” she laughs. So it’s little surprise that when Marcus Wilkerson and Glen Cunningham finally decided that they couldn’t endure another year in the stark whiteness of their Washington Park townhome—purchased for its proximity to their jobs, not because it suited their personal style—they enlisted Schroder to help them redecorate their space.

The owners came to the project with beautiful antique rugs they purchased in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and “amazing artwork, a lot of which has a very cool midcentury vibe,” Schroder says. “In a way, we worked backward: The art and accessories drove the design, first and foremost.” 

For the home’s gathering spaces, the trio decided on a luxurious mid-mod-meets-Southwestern vibe. Two Native American rugs from the 1860s guided the scheme in the living room, where two different sofas are upholstered in the same plush gray fabric. Custom fringed curtains introduce a pattern that reads as an orderly stripe from afar and as an organic watercolor up close. Pillows in various fabrics, plus a jute rug, add inviting textures.

In the nearby dining room—tied visually to the living space by Schroder’s use of matching draperies—the predominant color is blue, which appears in a range of patterns in similar tones. “You can mix tons of patterns [if you follow] two basic guidelines,” Schroder notes. “The scale of the patterns needs to be drastically different or pretty close, and the color tones need to be consistent.” To bring depth to this room’s palette—and an element of surprise—she added a pair of green upholstered chairs.

No talk of pattern is complete without a discussion of wallcoverings, which Wilkerson and Cunningham embraced. “I love the fact that they went hog-wild on wallpapers everywhere,” Schroder says. “Most often [in a home], we get to do maybe two or three, but they have six.” In the main bedroom, there are two complementary wallcoverings: a tartan plaid fabric behind the bed and a flannel on the other walls. The geometric paper in the entryway, the funky print in the powder bath, the guest room’s tiger motif, and the understated woodland pattern in the upstairs hallway have distinct styles, but because each appears in a relatively contained space, the patterns don’t have to share a common theme. “We’re not matchy-matchy people,” Wilkerson says. “We know what we like; we know what makes us feel at home.” 

For areas where patterns do share space, Schroder relies on a simple rule of thumb: Choose one print in a small scale, another in a large scale, a stripe, and a solid—especially if the solid is a sumptuous fabric. “We love a furry moment,” she says. The other decorating trick she employed throughout the house is choosing small furnishings and accessories with varied materiality, including shiny glass or metal elements, organic pieces (perhaps a piece of driftwood or a natural-fiber rug), and functional items like coasters or books. This approach gives the home a layered look that can’t be achieved with matching sets. 

Of course, there’s more to design than simple formulas. Schroder and her clients credit their success here to their unique collaboration. “Katie has a good bedside manner,” Wilkerson jokes. “We got the look we wanted because she let us participate.” Cunningham agrees: “We meshed the things we had with new pieces, and it all feels like it’s always been there; like it’s always been our home.” 

Hilary Masell Oswald
Hilary Masell Oswald
As the former editor for two of 5280’s ancillary publications, Hilary Masell Oswald split her time between the vibrant design-and-architecture scene in the metro area for 5280 Home and the always-changing field of health for the annual 5280 Health.