The exciting eclectic style
THE ECLECTIC style of design holds the most potential to truly represent you as an individual. This popular design style has rewritten the rule book on interior design by mixing and matching elements that are unrelated and would never before be seen together. Here, there is a bonding of the old and the new, traditional and contemporary, east and west, refined and rustic, revitalised by their differences and the proud lack of pedigree.
Transitional style, which is also very popular, especially with millennials, is specifically the marriage of traditional and contemporary furnishings, materials and accessories, leading to a classic and timeless design.
While eclectic style gives licence to the mixing of elements from different genres, it does not mean the throwing together of any and everything. This style also has the greatest potential to lead to rooms which are just a hodgepodge of confusion.
The liberty you are given with this emancipated way of decorating also comes with responsibilities as you manoeuvre the fine line between appealing style and chaos. There are still some fundamental principles to which you must adhere in order to create a harmonious look – yet one with surprises.
Here are some secrets:
Keeping the backdrop – walls, floors, and sometimes window dressings – plain and simple is often the easiest way to avoid a chaotic look. Neutral colours for these, for example, whites, creams, browns and greys, are safest. However, soft and/or bright colours can also work well when properly placed. Whatever you choose, make sure that the colours are carefully linked to the rest of the room.
• Avoid trying to represent too many different styles in a room. It is usually best to have one dominant style, with the introduction of elements from other styles. Each style should be repeated, however, as repetition results in rhythm. Visual repeats in a room help to create bonding – a traditionally framed mirror in an otherwise contemporary room could be echoed by a traditional chair or coffee table or table lamp.
• Repetition of not just style, but also shapes, will encourage a unified look – round mirror, round coffee table, etc.
• Use colours and patterns to bring cohesion to the space. Combine different patterns using the same colour palette. A traditional chair upholstered in a contemporary fabric will help to create a bond with the very contemporary piece sitting across from it.
• Scale and proportion are important. Elements should have enough presence without overwhelming others. A striking piece should stand out but still not be all you see when you enter the room. This piece could be balanced by a grouping on the other side of the room, which also carries some visual weight.
• Include the unexpected as this brings excitement to a room: an old sewing machine topped with glass as an entrance table or a washstand as a night table are examples. You could add surprise with something you picked up at a garage sale or thrift shop that you just love, but others find confusing. Have fun with this new liberation in design!
• Ethnic pieces, whether in furniture or accessories, seem to comfortably fit in eclectic design, so include a few of these if you wish. They make good conversion pieces.
Even with the liberty which eclectic design allows you, it is important not to overdo it. If something is telling you that you are going too far, maybe you are. Eclectic design, like most hybrids, can be exceptionally beautiful, so keep it simple!
Fay Wint is an interior decorator. Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org