When you’re thinking about designing and decorating your home, you want a space that feels quintessentially “you.” But what do you do if your home’s footprint and your own personal tastes don’t naturally fit together? That’s where eclectic design comes in.
In this post, we’ll teach you how to combine different design elements that, on paper, shouldn’t make sense but in fact work together to bring a unique aesthetic to any property.
What is Eclectic Design?
So what does eclectic mean in interior design? While the word has been part of common language for centuries to mean “drawn from various sources,” eclecticism only found its place in the world of home decorating in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The interest in eclectic style interior design soon spread from architecture, where historical revival was becoming popular and architects enjoyed creative freedom by straying from a fixed look, to inside the home. Just like that, a new decorating style was born.
Modern eclectic interior design is now known for the way it carefully brings together the best pieces of various decorating styles, from farmhouse chic and Scandinavian rustic to bohemian and art nouveau. But it isn’t about throwing anything and everything into a room! The most aesthetically pleasing designs are curated, reflecting your personal interests by blending color and texture to create a harmonious final product.
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How to Pull Off Eclectic Interior Design Yourself
Having no limitations when it comes to modern interior design can feel freeing but also a little overwhelming. How can you pull off an eclectic design in a visually pleasing and considered way if you’ve never done this before? There’s a fine line between chaotic and eclectic. But, by following these guidelines, you’ll soon find yourself in the room of your dreams.
Mix Textures and Finishes
Rough and smooth, thick and thin, shiny and matte—there are so many choices you can make when it comes to picking the right materials for your space.
While it’s fine to use one fabric or texture a couple of times, you’re not creating a showhome. This is a lived-in space that should reflect who you are and what you love. Take your time in selecting upholstery that will make you comfortable and experiment with throw pillows or rugs as these are much easier (and less pricey) to switch out if you change your mind.
If you’re trying to blend two or more distinct design styles, think about what makes them unique. For example, Scandinavian minimalist style often features natural fabrics and wood, whereas art deco pieces are often vibrant contrasting colors like black and gold. An oak dining table with beautiful gold bowls sitting on top could be the perfect way to mix these two very different styles together that creates the aesthetic you’re looking for.
Thrifting furniture in antique stores or on Facebook Marketplace is an ideal way to test what styles might fit well together in your space before committing to a large expense. Mixing the old and new is the foundation of eclectic style interior design, so don’t be afraid to pick pieces from completely different eras. This is where you can let your personality shine and bring together all the furnishings that you love most.
Create a Focal Point
Focus is important in many areas of life, and decorating your home is no exception! Use a key element of the room to draw the eye inward and tie in the different vibes that you’re bringing into the space. This could be anything—an original fireplace, an extra large painting or print, or an accent wall of a contrasting color or quirky wallpaper.
The purpose of a focal point is to keep your space feeling consistent as you bring together different styles and features. It helps the room to feel airy and uncluttered, especially if you’re trying to fit several large pieces of furniture into a smaller area. While it serves a practical purpose, it’s important to remember that this should be fun! Test different focal points to find what works best for you and the space you’re working in.
Gallery walls are a great place to start. Cut out paper of different sizes to place on the wall as templates that you can move around until you’re happy with the final gallery design. Stick to the same frame style if you want to maintain consistency, or use frames of all designs and colors for a truly eclectic finish. Switching out prints and paintings within the frames every few months is a simple way to continually update your space without blowing your budget.
Pick a Base Color
While you certainly can use a range of different colors throughout your home, the key to keeping modern eclectic interior design on track and not sliding into a disjointed mess is in choosing a base color to work from.
This color can appear throughout the room and, much like your focal point, helps to pull everything together and create consistency. This doesn’t mean you have to paint the whole room one color to make the tone more obvious. Your base color could be displayed in throw pillows and matching picture frames; bedsheets could be the same color as the dominant hue in a large painting on the wall.
Any objects or materials can feature your base color in either dominant or subtle ways, working to balance the contrasts you have elsewhere in the space. Neutral palettes are often best used for base colors, allowing you to run wild with color in other parts of the room and providing a backdrop for your new-found eclecticism. They also make it much easier to change your mind later on, without having to completely redecorate the room.
Work With What You Have
No matter when your home was built, there will always be features that you can use as inspiration to work from. If your home is historical, what period features can you retain and blend into the room? A historic home doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from modern interior design. In fact, your home is presenting you with the perfect playground to flex your new eclectic design muscles!
Victorian and Edwardian properties are ideal when working with eclectic designs and often come with original features like fireplaces and ceiling roses that can be used as your focal point and guidance for furnishings.
Working with a new build? There’s still plenty of opportunities for you to bring in eclectic interior design. A blank canvas can seem daunting, but start with identifying what your dream style looks like and build from there. You can still play with texture and pattern in a new home as much as a historical one, so keep this in mind as you shop for furniture and artwork.
Eclectic vs. Bohemian
Bohemian style is seeing a renaissance, and it’s easy to confuse this with eclectic design thanks to its laid-back vibes and minimal aesthetic. But there is one key difference between the two: While bohemian design is all about saying goodbye to the rulebook, eclectic interior design still maintains order as its founding style principle.
Interior designers often describe eclectic as the “grown up” version of bohemian design, where differences are celebrated but carefully considered—a stark contrast to the often wild and thrown together feel that bohemian design brings. While both are built on the collection of various styles, textures, and patterns, eclecticism is more balanced and intentional with its aesthetic choices.
Eclectic homes can still feature bohemian elements, though. For example, an eclectic-style living room could mix bright colors, wicker and rattan furniture, and hanging plants with accents of wood and natural fibers like sheepskin or wool. This Scandinavian-Bohemian style has become popular in recent years thanks to the move toward more minimalist lifestyles and is the perfect example of eclecticism in practice in modern interior design.
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