01 May 2013

Eclectic Design - Three Rules When Mixing it Up

I'm a big fan of mixing design styles. An eclectic design adds a sense of authenticity to a space as you collect treasured pieces over the years.  It's genuine character and comfortable feel is attributed to the fact that you have permission to purchase what you love rather than making purchase decisions solely based on what will "fit" into a particular design scheme. I love its versatility and how it allows for change and growth as your home changes and grows.

Eclectic design is a mix of old and new, of various styles, and of contrasting materials. But even though it's a mix of loved items, it doesn't mean there aren't rules to follow, lest your home become a jumbled heap of senseless chaos.

Following three simple rules will unify what would normally be a mismatch collection of odds & ends into a beautiful cohesive unit.

Rule #1 - Keep the Palette Neutral

Let's look at two very different eclectically designed rooms. 
eclectic interior design
The room above is mixed with elements of contemporary {in the table}, regency {in the Chippendale chairs}, mid-century modern {in the lighting}, and traditional {in the bookshelves & panelled walls}. What makes this diverse mix of styles work so well together are the cohesive colors and repetition of pattern set against a neutral background. 

The neutral background and neutral anchor piece {the table} provides a resting spot for the eye while the pops of yellow & red scattered throughout the room provides a uniformed flow as your eye scans the room. The repetitious texture of the books all along the wall also helps the design make beautiful sense.

elcectic interior
In contrast, this eclectically designed room has very little cohesion or flow. With so many vivid colors and diverse patterns, your eye bounces all over the room as your mind tries put the puzzle together. But the pieces just don't fit. This room has plenty of texture and pattern, but there is no one particular idea carried through the room - just crazy quilt of colors, patterns, and styles that simply leaves one feeling unsettled.

See the difference between the two?

Rule #2 - Respect the Style of Your Home

If your home's style lends itself to one particular period, show respect to the interior by incorporating a few pieces from that period into your eclectic design. 

traditional home
Our home is a transitional colonial, so a few elements of traditional design give respect the home's character.
mid-century slatted bench
But this 1970's chrome slatted bench 
eclectic interior design
and 1950's bar cart are adding a fresh look that is making the room a bit more current.

Rule #3 - Opposites Attract

Lastly, use opposites to add interest and an unexpected element of surprise.

One of my favorite tricks for an eclectic design is to pair opposites together - be it color, textures, or design styles. For example, I have been searching for the perfect farm table for our dining room. I know exactly what I want {which is why I can't find it} and exactly what I'll pair with it. Care to see? Take a peek at my earlier post, On the Hunt for a Farmhouse Table.

Another example of the attraction of opposites is this home.
modern interior design
This cold modern environment is warmed up by the rustic wood of the farm table & stairs. Also, there is the contrast of white & black. Each opposite balances its counterpart to create perfect harmony.



  1. thanks for these rules! i like to mix em all up and am eclectic as well but i do a lot of editing though because i dont want it to be too OTT.

  2. sarah @ homeologymodernvintageMay 2, 2013 at 7:57 AM

    me too, bev! i'm a minimalist collector - a little goes a long way!

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Hello lovely reader! Please leave your thoughts and comments for me to ponder - I truly love reading each + every one!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Pin It button on image hover