Eclectic Style: Making Your Home Reflect You

Eclectic style is often misunderstood and underrepresented. To some, there’s a method to the madness; to others, it’s just madness. It can be difficult to pin down as a style, partially because there is no singular furniture type to its name. It takes from modern and traditional, farmhouse and avant-garde, minimalism and maximalism all at once. So what is eclectic style? And do you have the makings for an eclectic room already in your home?

What is Eclectic Style?

While each piece may seem odd by itself, everything in this room is carefully chosen to create a cohesive, vibrant look when together (by Beth Dotolo)

Colloquially, most people use the term “eclectic” wrong. We think it’s a designer’s way of saying chaos, but that’s not necessarily accurate. Eclectic style refers to a non-traditional, purposeful mismatch of unique items.
It’s cohesive, has a central theme, repetitive elements, and an overall room balance achieved through asymmetry. It’s not to be confused with Bohemian style, which is closer to actually being interior design chaos.

Balance Without Symmetry

A room doesn’t need to have everything mirror on each side to feel even, and doing so can actually make the space feel artificial, like a model home (by Stadler Custom Homes)

Asymmetry feels counterintuitive to making a room feel equal on both sides, but is more achievable with your existing furniture. Unlike pristine store displays, you likely don’t have two of everything. Some rooms like kitchens are rarely designed symmetrically because it isn’t practical with expensive appliances. Asymmetry is a great way to incorporate a busy element without it completely taking over the room. Try wallpapering or painting one wall, or clustering lights together. At the other end, consider a collection of family photos or distinct wall art to cover the plainer paint. They aren’t the same at all, but together will make both sides of the room feel equally filled.

Cohesion Through Patterns, Textures, or Color

While these tile are all contrasting patterns, sharing colors in common makes them work together as a shower wall (by Ginés Romero)

Not every piece needs to be from the same furniture set or even the same year. In fact, I’d discourage it! That said, they should go together when placed in the same room. Accent chairs shine when placed against a couch from a different time period, and dining tables can bring all eras to the table with a menagerie of unique dining chairs. That said, some element must connect everything together or else it’s just clutter. A singular color can be seen prominently in all your chairs, or your living room set shares similar base fabrics. The idea between the mismatch isn’t to be random, but to tell a story. Ideally, one about you and your life experiences.

Pick One Thing That’s Really Memorable

What you look at first can be the defining piece of the entire room’s tone and style (by Dayka Robinson Designs)

Telling a story through interior design is easiest to achieve with a showstopper piece. A one-of-a-kind wall art from an art festival, handcrafted souvenirs from abroad, or even your grandmother’s favorite armchair can all work. A showstopper doesn’t necessarily mean it should be something flashy or new, but rather something that draws the eye. It should what people first look at when they walk into the room. If it’s too stressful to find one singular item to define an entire room, section the space off with rugs. They can contain separate concepts to just the area around the rug, and allow you to have more showstoppers per room.

More Colors, But Not All of Them

You can go overboard if you add too many shades to your color scheme, which is why even a colorful room still needs neutral tones throughout (by Mercury Mosaics)

With colorful furniture being so much more accessible than it has been in decades prior, interior design now considers it childish or bad taste to indulge in it. Many people looking into eclectic style nowadays are doing so because they’re sick of that mentality. You still need neutral colors in your eclectic room palette, of course. All color schemes do to create a balance. However, you don’t have to limit yourself to one fun accent color to pair with them. Some neutrals have a hint of color you can play on if you need inspiration. For example, warm browns tend to have reds or yellows in them, and cool browns lean more toward blues and greens. If you’re not sure what will work best, taping up several paint chips can give you a better idea of those colors throughout the entire day’s lighting.

Eclectic style isn’t for everyone. It’s busy, it’s loud, and it requires some very careful matchmaking of furniture. But if you’re inspired to go a step further than rigid decor and flat colors, you may end up creating a home that’s truly timeless.