Any decorator will tell you that the secret of good interiors is good coordination. If you are starting from scratch, getting coordinated shouldn’t be too difficult. You can seek out pieces in the same style, or make it easy for yourself by buying matching sets of furniture. This isn’t always how it works. Most people giving their homes a decor boost will already have much loved pieces of furniture and decorative pieces, and the chances are that they are in diverse styles and from different eras. But eclectic decor can be an effective design scheme in itself, if it’s done smartly and with a sense of humor.
It’s still about coordination, but with different aims. The goal can be blending different furnishings together, rather than aiming for matching pieces. Alternatively it can be creating effective and eye-catching contrasts, including clever combinations of different forms and textures. Often the central challenge will be about how to mix the old and the new for maximum effect.
When you have very different items, you will need to think about minimizing those differences or creating connections. Wooden furniture of different kinds of wood is a decor problem, since they seldom go well together. Painting them, or varnishing them so they are the same color, is an easy way to cut down on contrast. It also makes sense not to invite comparisons by putting them next to each other.
Color is also the number one key to consider when combining other objects of diverse ages and styles. A collection of all white ornaments will look just fine all together, whether they are two or two hundred years old. The same applies to pattern. A group of ceramics all with polka dots, no matter what color, will have a unity that works visually.
Textures and types of finish also need consideration fore the eclectic decor look. You can unify different pieces if they have similar textures; so a distressed table and distressed chairs may go together even if they are of different styles. Chances are that shiny new chairs will clash with an old table and vice versa – but it’s always worth trying contrasting items together to see if they work or not.
Sometimes contrast is the way to go for a striking effect. A beautiful, elaborate antique in dark wood can look especially good in a neutral ‘white cube’, art gallery-style room. Then there are other styles that you’ll have to be a decor genius to marry. A chandelier is probably always going to look odd in a room with cottage-style decor.
To create the eclectic look successfully can take a good eye. An alternative to buying matching furniture sets is to invest in classic pieces and accessories in neutral colors that go just about anywhere. Think of eclectic Orkney chairs and cabinets in natural or pastel colors. The way to make eclectic decor work is to choose careful and to spend lots of time spent rearranging things and contemplating their visual impact.