Eclectic Style: Tips and Tricks for Making Sense of It

Eclectic style is “so easy to love, yet a bit trickier to achieve”. For anyone who’s attempted to achieve an appealing eclectic design in your space, you have probably found this to be true. What’s to keep a space from feeling completely random unhinged? As it turns out, there are several subtle and not-so-subtle tips and tricks for decorating the eclectic space. We’ll share them with you here.

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Before we begin, though, we should define eclectic. What does it mean, really? Eclectic style involves selecting what appears to be best in various methods or styles and then composing those elements that are drawn from various sources. Basically, it’s based upon mixing and matching and breaking rules…while avoiding sheer and utter chaos in the design.

Intersperse various elements.

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Eclectic décor (specifically a type of “vintage eclectic,” although it can be applied to many other eclectic designs) can successfully involve the interspersing of antique, vintage, and classic elements with newer, offbeat items. This multi-finish nightstand illustrates this concept to a certain degree.

Maintain a color palette but be free with pattern.

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One color should serve as a unifying factor throughout your design, serving ‘as the great equalizer, pulling together the overall look. This advice is excellent because it maintains a piece of continuity while allowing you freedom to express your eclectic tastes beyond that.

Become a connoisseur of collages.

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An eclectic jumble of vintage pieces or vintage-inspired finds, or even a variety of finishing details in a space, can be collected and gathered and displayed to showcase an enchanting sense of eclectic style. Consider items that are colorful, jaunty, oversized, odd, over-the-top, or vibrant in some way…then find a commonality between and combine them.

Lay an eclectic foundation with a rug.

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Depending on the rest of your décor, to make a space authentically eclectic, the area rug will likely vary from most other elements in the room. Mid-century-inspired furnishings, for example, might do well on a faded antique rug; traditional or Victorian-leaning furniture would be delightful on a southwestern woven rug. Don’t miss this opportunity to provide a delightful contrast within the overall space.

Expect the unexpected.

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Furniture and accents that integrate shapely, feminine, and/or unexpected details are generally right at home in an eclectic space. If all-out wacky isn’t to your taste, but you still enjoy an eclectic feel, look for unique pieces, such as a double-helix-style vase or two, or some lit-up terrarium type glass displays. The end result is fresh and unexpected, but not super extreme.

Incorporate a true mixture of styles.

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Eclectic style isn’t necessarily about pairing a vintage piece with a chippy piece in another color. It’s much more than that. Eclectic design involves true mixing and matching of styles and eras and aesthetics, but doing so in a way that is cohesive and beautiful. This kitchen, for example, has definitively modern touches (e.g., the flat-front cupboard doors, glass, white units and dark contemporary flooring) but also involves obvious traditional flair as well (e.g., curved details, ornate corbels, moulding). While it’s still well-edited and clean, this kitchen is eclectic.

Mix those mediums.

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A textured-looking wall (in olive, no less), bedecked with huge, ornate, antique-looking frames and photographs certainly gives itself an aged impression. But the best part about eclectic style is that you can change up those stereotypes and flip them on their heads – a slick, white branch abstract lighting fixture in the foreground, for example, provides such a deliciously eclectic contrast to the dreary-seeming background, that the entire space is magically mysterious. Don’t be afraid to mix mediums in your eclectic design to heighten the all-around aesthetic.

Embrace layers…upon layers.

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Eclectic style has gotten the reputation of being similar to bohemian, in which more definitely equals more. This can be true for eclectic style, but it’s not necessarily a given. A rich, layered look that involves a variety of forms, shapes, eras, and designs will enhance the eclectic feel of a space, but try to keep it edited so it’s more lived-in stylish than chaos.

Maintain some design commonality.

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While a large part of eclectic décor’s charm is its eccentricity, its seemingly hodge-podge appeal, eclectic style can often successfully incorporate commonalities and continuities and be successful. For example, in this living room space, curved elements of various mediums, styles, sizes, and purposes are involved. “Similar lines create design harmony, even if the pieces are different styles, textures, or from different periods,” says mid-century modern furniture designer Joybird. The overall effect is somewhat eclectic, but there is that appealing sense of continuity in the design as well.

Bring in the quirk.

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Eclectic décor is certainly not a come-one-come-all mentality; when done right, eclectic style actually involves a solid method to its madness. But a bit of quirky detail can go a long way in helping shape the eclectic feel of a space, to bring a smile and a reminder that the design isn’t to be taken quite so seriously. Ballet slippers on the legs of a chair? Sounds about right.

Keep a focal point.

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Although eclectic style involves combining designs, décor pieces, time periods, and styles via various items and design choices, there should still be a focus to the look. Accentuate an existing focal point, or create your own, with a single eye-catching element to help with aesthetic management. Even (especially?) if it means a green apple-covered faucet on your bathroom sink.

Second-guess the single-ness of style.

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Some decorating pieces, such as this chair that looks to be made out of wooden shims, incorporate components of a variety of styles within themselves. Rustic, primitive, contemporary, and eclectic – this chair represents many decorating styles but not one single style. Incorporating pieces that blur the lines between styles makes an eclectic space easier (and less messy) to create.

Combine wood finishes with painted ones.

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This two-tone campaign-style desk feels almost nautical, with its crisp whites and navy outlines. But the eclectic charm comes into play as it’s placed into a space with oak built-in shelving. And a golden lampshade goes a long way in bringing the two pieces together visually.

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We hope you’ll enjoy incorporating an eclectic flair into your space, that you embrace it wholeheartedly and go for it if this style makes you happy.