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Eclectic Design

What is an Eclectic Design Style?

Have you ever visited a friend’s new condo and when you walked through the door you were attacked by various and sundry furniture styles, colors and designs? Your friend proudly beamed that she had decorated in the Eclectic Design Style. You thought she had been on too much eggnog when she selected everything. Then you visit another friend’s new condo and when you walked in the room there were definitely different elements but it all seemed to work together like a championship team. This is the Eclectic Design Style. The other may have been viva la garage sale or Goodwill chic.

If you think about it, everyone has eclectic tastes. No one likes 100% of anything including colors and styles of furniture. It is not rare to see an individual furnish their home in a  French Country or Contemporary style and sneak in an antique piece here and there. This is appropriate but it is not eclectic in the true sense.

Professional decorators will tell you that to have a real Eclectic Design Style you have to incorporate 70% of one style with 30% of another. You do not have to dig out your hand held calculator to insure the right percentages, but you do have to incorporate one dominant style with another less dominant one. Everything must work together. It cannot be one of this and one of that making a room scream chaos.

To begin, you need a blank slate or canvas. This neutral background will be the glue that holds your room together. If you have beige walls with a red sofa and paisley stuffed chair, it can work. If you have four red walls with a brown leather couch and a blue and green striped velveteen wing chair, you have a mess. You can be bold and think outside the box, but you do not want to push the envelope to the other side of gaudy.

You can mix time periods like Edwardian + Gothic, styles such as Art Deco + Shaker, plus complimenting colors. You can even add in a trendy piece or two. But the bottom line in that all pieces and colors need to work together and blend in harmony.

If you use a traditional sofa it must have something in common with a contemporary chair. Most often it will be brought together with color because the lines will be different. If you have chosen red for an accent wall, the sofa may be a textured print with a hint of red in it while your contemporary chair may be gold with very small red stripes. Both upholstered items have color in common with each other as well as the entire room or accent wall. Once you have your basics in place, then you can look for complimenting items you can add.

For example, your chair is gold. It would be using the Eclectic Design Style to have a table lamp that is bronzed or gold-tone base with a neutral shade. The lamp can be in any style you like. The base is bonding with the basic color of the chair and the shade is totally neutral. To bring in more of an eclectic look, you can have an open weave neutral color throw on the back of the chair or sofa. It all works together.

Let’s say that you have a really neutral room. The walls are beige, the floors are dark wood and the upholstered pieces are in tones of beige and dark brown. All in all in makes you yawn. However, you can add an Eclectic Design Style and make the room pop. Begin with an area rug that is busy with colors and patterns. Add dramatic lighting with lamps that have bases that pick up one of the colors in the rug. Maybe you can find an antique (or reproduction) bookcase or wine rack. You can add textured throws for the sofa in prints or plaids that have a neutral background but have more colored patterns that are taken from the colors of the rug.

By adding color, lines, textures and forms to the room it has grown from boring to an Eclectic Design Style. Don’t forget to add pictures and mirrors with some gilded frames.

If you like the Eclectic Style you may also like Shabby Chic.

More information on Styles and Periods of Interior Decorating

Styles and Periods
Furniture History
Decorating Styles
Period Decoration
What is Style?

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About the Author – Lee Brown

Lee Brown is the co founder of interiordezine.com, she has worked in the Interior Design Industry for over 23 years, specializing in commercial, hospitality, high end architectural homes and retail design. Over the past 13 years Lee and Chris Brown have been collating their wealth of design knowledge to provide free interior decorating education to the world. Make sure you register for your free ecourse today. Free Interior Decorating eCourse
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