Eclectic home decor seeks to bring together disparate styles of furniture, art, and decor items to create a harmoniously balanced effect. And it’s not as difficult as it sounds if you keep a few basic concepts top of mind.
In this article, we’re going to discuss governing design principles and some of the decor styles that lend themselves well to mixing and matching. But the allure of eclectic home decor is in its acknowledgment of personal taste and comfort. Some incline toward edgy home decor that tells their story, while others want something more traditional, yet personalized. Both these examples can be described as “eclectic” so, let’s explore eclectic decor for the home and how to mix and match styles to dazzling effect.
What Pleases Your Eye?
You know what you like. But it’s easy to get stuck in a conventional decor box. We tend to think about the spaces of our homes as utilitarian containers for the exercise of specific activities in each specific room. And while it’s true that we cook in the kitchen, we may also entertain friends there, paint pictures, grow plants, or throw pots! Your home is what you say it is and what happens there is up to you.
The same is true of the decor you choose to beautify your home with. When you walk across the front door threshold, what lifts your heart, filling you with your home sanctuary’s comfort? Is it the color on the walls? Is it the cozy familiarity of the furniture in your front room, or the richly detailed art and decor? Home is all those things. Eclectic design speaks to the reality of collecting items for the home over years, building the look that makes you feel you’re where you’re supposed to be. So, the first rule of eclectic design is to please your eye.
To be intentional and deliberate with eclectic design is to achieve balance between all the elements present in any given room. There are some key principles and concepts to keep in mind as you do this:
A Strong Foundation
To achieve a balanced room start with the dominant style present in each. If you’re designing from scratch, choose key furniture pieces in one style. Doing this helps you avoid the chaos that can result from some eclectic design efforts. “Chaos” in this instance means too many varying elements have been added, resulting in a confused “thrift store” look. Styles that lend themselves well to eclectic decor are:
- Mid-Century Modern: The angular sleekness and unfussy design of this enduring decor style serve as a great foundation for the introduction of other stylistic and design elements. Spare and elegant, MCM is a market-dominant home decor style.
- Bohemian: The polar opposite of Mid-Century Modern, Bohemian decor tends to find its aesthetic in the Victorian Age. Overstuffed wing backs covered in colorful tapestry or velvet and rattan feature prominently. Just add a large, potted palm in a brass pot and a fringed silk shawl slung over a tufted chaise and you’re halfway there. But Bohemian decor can also be bean bag chairs, cactus lamps, and neon signs on the wall! Choose your flavor!
- Industrial: Characterized by raw metal, reclaimed wood, and details reminiscent of industrial settings (bolts, metal beams, concrete), industrial decor is a raw note in the home that demands a warm counterpoint to soften its rough and ready edges.
These 3 styles are my picks for those best adapted to eclectic decor. Durably present in the world of interior design, all 3 have enough stand-alone design clout to form the strong foundation required to avoid veering off-road into chaos.
The Essence of Your Foundation
Furniture has a personality, emerging from the style it’s made in. Examine your stylistic foundation and get to know it. Research the color palettes, patterns, shapes, and fabrics most closely associated with the foundation you’ve chosen to work with.
A great way to do this is to check out online design pages that feature the decor style you’re using as a foundation. As you learn more about that specific style, you’ll make mental connections to decor ideas. And don’t discount Pinterest. Pinterest displays some of the most detailed, compelling imagery of decor ideas online. You’ll find abundant inspiration there!
Embrace the Unexpected
Balancing your foundation with eclectic elements is best supported by bringing the unexpected to your design. Look for items people don’t expect to see. An MC Escher print in a Bohemian space is jarring in exactly the right way, bringing the delight of surprise to your decor. Or choose unusual decor items from other cultures, asserting themselves with exotically arresting beauty.
Built-in bookshelves needn’t hold only books. Add items from your travels, or baskets filled with shells or marbles. Hang art from the shelves at the joints, adding unusual objects and decor pieces as “bookends”. Here’s where you assert your individuality.
Choose a large-scale coffee table, no matter what your foundation style is. There’s nothing more eclectic than a stack of art and travel books surmounted by a plaster bust. Or make a brass tray your coffee table’s centerpiece, topped by a selection of objects plucked from antique and souvenir shops. Snow globes, small baskets, sea glass, and Mexican retablos can all conspire to create a fascinatingly eclectic tableau.
Eclectic style is characterized by unexpected and exotic juxtapositions like contemporary with vintage So, add those vintage pieces. You might hang a portrait of an ancestor on a wall painted shocking pink or use a vintage spindle leg end table with your MCM couch. Or you might like to hang a Mid-Century glass swag lamp over an overstuffed Bohemian wing back or throw a fluffy pillow on an Industrial style chair.
Signal your worldly ways with decor items collected on your travels. The eclectic style loves adventure, the unexpected, the out-of-context element, and plenty of surprises, so use your own experiences to pepper your environment with your stories and life’s treasured moments.
Eclectic decor is easily achieved by being aware of your personal style, selecting a strong foundation (and understanding its essence) and being unafraid to upset the apple cart of design conformity. Feeling your way forward with eclectic decor is about more than design; it’s a journey into your own concept of what beauty in the home means.
About the Creator
Andrew is a creative writer, poet, and content strategist. He is passionate about literature, food, wine, travel, and sports. In his spare time he enjoys working on home projects and restoring the 1837 Greek Revival he and his wife own.