Jo Simmons, Houzz
Houzz is the leading platform for home remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish.
We may aspire to live in perfectly coordinated interiors, but many of us have a style that’s a little more mixed. That’s because, rather than buying up a “look” for our homes, we see them gradually evolve. We might start with a handful of essential pieces and over time add a few vintage items, a bargain table bought on eBay, an antique chest passed down through the family and some cushions that were a birthday present.
This mix of pieces, from different eras and in various styles and materials, gives a home its character, but it’s important that all the different elements do more than just look great in isolation. For your home to feel characterful but also cohesive, these elements must sit together beautifully, too. It’s about steering a potentially chaotic combination of ingredients towards a considered, consciously eclectic home. Here’s how to do it.
Keep it tidy
It sounds obvious, but imposing order on an eclectic scheme is essential to its success. Let it slip toward untidiness and all those wonderful treasures will start to look like a burglary in a junk shop rather than a carefully curated selection of your favorite pieces. Tidy, edit and organize your possessions ruthlessly and regularly to avoid eclectic overload.
Design a uniform backdrop
A simple way to pull together a collection of disparate pieces in any space is with a uniform base color. This doesn’t have to be white or neutral; a dark shade will perform the same job. Try matching walls and flooring too, to minimize visual “fuss” and provide the perfect clean backdrop for your finds and furniture.
Accessorize with flair
This living room is home to all sorts of furniture, but confident use of cushions and artwork do much to pull the different pieces together. In fact, they even draw attention away from the furnishings. The eye is drawn to the bright cushions and up onto the walls, away from the mix-and-match furniture. These colorful ingredients bring a sense of abundance and fun to the space.
Balance with simple touches
So you’ve inherited your granny’s antique dining table and chairs, or maybe you were swayed by an eBay bargain. Suddenly, you need to make an ornate, possibly dark wood piece designed several decades ago fit into your home and suit 21st century living. How? This dining space illustrates how injecting a few simple, modestly contemporary pieces can help those antiques look dashing, not dinosaur-ish. Simple wooden chairs, painted a vibrant blue, make a great foil to the dark wood and details of this huge table and its matching chairs.
Give it some space
Eclectic doesn’t have to mean busy. Although eclectic interiors often contain an abundance of pieces, they can be beautifully pared-down too.
Take the principles of an eclectic scheme, which combines a mixture of items, eras and styles with harmonious results, and strip it right back. This bedroom features just two pieces of art on one huge wall in order to look consciously restrained and considered. The contrast of the vintage paintings with the bright, contemporary lampshades looks witty and balanced.
Don’t be shy
Sometimes, to make an eclectic scheme really catch fire, you have to be brave and bold. So choose the mix of pieces you want in your space, then look for a way to ramp up their style.
Perhaps you can lay a showstopper carpet or pick up on a texture or finish, adding contrasting details. Here, for example, the raw, unfinished walls are gorgeously contrasted with luxe bedding and an antique mirrored cabinet.
Construct a stage
Don’t underestimate the power of a beautiful new floor or freshly plastered and painted walls to anchor an eclectic mix of furniture. Imagine you are creating a pristine stage against which your pieces will “perform.” A quality finish will do this, providing a really strong, neat backdrop that can both set off your finds and prevent them from looking scruffy.
Build a collection
Nothing says consciously eclectic like a large assortment of a single item. Here, it’s office chairs reimagined as dining chairs. While just one or two around this table could look misjudged and out of place, a large number of them instantly looks ordered, original and striking. The fact that they were never intended for use at a dining table gives them instant eclectic appeal, plus the mix of sizes and colors adds to the mismatched but harmonious look.
Look for a line
Symmetry and clean lines appeal to our eyes and create a sense of order. So if you want to hang an eclectic mixture of images but are worried about them looking jumbled, begin by hanging a bottom row with the frames lining up to create a horizontal base line, then build from there. Even if you hang pictures in a more random fashion as you work up, the base line will serve to anchor the display.
This wall display is mostly composed of dark colors for further unity, but the images displayed are as varied as paintings, signs and sketches.
Display with care
A random collection of treasures can either look inviting and intriguing or hopelessly messy — it all depends on how you display them. Try to isolate your pieces, creating breathing space around each one so they can be viewed easily and enjoyed. Create a clean backdrop for your finds too.
Group similar items together, creating neat little tableaux. If you have too many pieces and not enough space to show them all off, keep some in storage and rotate your displays, rather than risk overloading a single shelf or surface.