The history of interior design teaches us that furniture styles were not generally mixed together as a cohesive design. Take the Victorian era. In a Victorian room, Victorian furniture was used along with Victorian curtains, Victorian accessories, you get the idea. It’s not until relatively recently, I’d say even the last 15 years, that the “eclectic style”, the formal meaning of the word as not sticking to one designated style, has come to be common. Desirable even. That said, I think it’s pretty tricky to create a room with furniture of various styles and eras effectively. Oftentimes, it can come out looking like a hodge podge of garage sale finds. When it’s done right, it can be super beautiful. There are three ways to make it work.
- Use furniture in pairs. The top image is a wonderful example of this. It shows the wonderful Barcelona chairs coupled with some French chairs, and then held together with a sleek minimalist coffee table. Oftentimes, I find that the eclectic look is the default style because no other similar furniture was found but that one piece. This is fine (and we’ll see why) in some cases, but sometimes it just looks unbalanced and accidental. When placed in pairs, it looks like it’s done on purposed and feels balanced.
- Have at least two of the same style in the room. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean two of the same item, just AT LEAST two of the same style. For example, the first image we discussed is balanced with the French armchairs with the equally ornate metallic goblets sitting on the minimalist table. Another great example is the two yellow 60s chairs in the Moroccan tiled courtyard. It could seem out of place to have such modernist chairs in the space, but it is balanced with the equally modernist table peeking out from the tablecloth. Lastly, the ornate chandelier in the bottom left picture is balanced out with the ornate fireplace frame and contrasted with the more rustic farmhouse table and chairs.
- Place the common furniture styles evenly throughout the space. Now, that we know to have at least two of the same styled furniture throughout to create a balanced space, we need to focus on the placement of the items. Pieces can have many successful configurations like a triangle pattern or each piece hitting a different wall. One of my favorite configurations starts on the wall while the next one hits the middle height, and lastly something to accent the floor like a rug. One of my favorite examples is this robin’s egg blue bedroom below. The bed frame is modern while the settee is a 18th century France, but it’s held together by color as well as the balance of the wardrobe on the left of the bed with the equally ornate lighting fixtures on either side of the bed frame.
Are you a stickler for style or do you like?