I get asked this question a lot: "what happens when furniture and decor styles don't match?" This is a common concern among clients, especially when a client has never worked with me before. Often, my clients ask me this question when they can see that their furnishings and decorations borrow from a range of styles - a touch of modern, a few industrial pieces here, a little rustic over there, and so on.
To these clients, I say: That's how it should be! Mixing decor styles makes your indoor spaces richer and more attractive. This surprises some clients, but I'm happy to explain. I figured this sounded like a great blog article in the making!
Why Mixing Decorating Styles Works
Imagine a room decorated entirely in one color. Blue, let's say. Imagine the walls are light blue, the couch is a deep, beautiful blue, and the carpet is the color of the sky. Virtually every piece of furniture and every accessory in the room is blue.... sounds a little boring, doesn't it? Or maybe it sounds overwhelming, or surreal. Either way, there's a reason that we don't decorate our rooms entirely in one color. Humans like variety. Even if blue is your favorite color, without the contrast to other colors in the room it loses its depth and no longer stands out.
Now imagine that same room, but with touches of creamy white, golden yellow and orange scattered throughout. Imagine a floor made of hardwood, or a neutral colored carpet. Maybe there's a creamy white couch, golden yellow and orange throw pillows, and a golden throw blanket over the back of the chair.
These touches make the blue less overwhelming, while at the same time adding visual interest to the room. Accent colors bring surprises everywhere you look. Mixing and matching colors is satisfying - this is why we like to do it.
The same principle applies to mixing and matching decorating and furnishing styles. Focusing on one “style" makes a room look one-dimensional and less personal.
Normal Living Spaces are Rarely Tidy
The spaces we live in are decorated over time. One year, we buy a couch. The next year, we buy an end table. As time goes on, we choose more pieces of furniture and replace old pieces that really need it. Sometimes we buy what's convenient, other times we buy that one piece of furniture we absolutely love. Then there are the items we don’t buy at all, but that we inherit. This is also really common for my clients as they have furniture that’s been passed down to them from previous generations. It’s meaningful to them and they want to know how to incorporate it into a space that also reflects their own style. As this happens, the styles we choose for our rooms naturally begin to change, to reflect our changing sensibilities and the changing decor trends.
This may lead to a patchwork quilt of styles, all in one space. This is what we expect when we walk into a living room or bedroom. This natural accumulation of things makes our homes look lived in and loved.
Our furnishings and decor may produce an diversified collection, for sure, but this mixture can be visually beautiful and comfortable. Many designers - and I am one of them - like to see a range of styles together in one space. Each piece is loved and treasured, for different reasons.
Matching Furniture Can Look Unnatural and Characterless
So, to explain that a little further, mixing decorating styles brings a human element to our indoor spaces. We bring touches of ourselves and our history to our homes as we bring furniture styles together and marry them in one space.
Imagine walking into a showroom and buying the whole set of furniture for your living room. The pieces might look good together, but they lack character. As a whole, the space is uninteresting. Mixing brings in culture, lifestyle, personality, and memories.
Variety is the Spice of Life, They Say
Another important benefit: mixing styles can bring in a variety of colors, textures, and natural elements. I love seeing rooms that include materials like stone, hardwood and ceramic in one space. All those textures and colors combine to create natural flow that makes the room a space where I want to spend time.
If you work with me, you'll find that I'm likely to combine a wood side table with glass and metal coffee table. Then, I might combine furnishings upholstered in leather with furnishings upholstered in fabric.
Because I like to see something old with something new, I'll bring in a traditional or vintage sideboard or chest to create different layers. I believe these touches bring warmth and fond memories.
I also firmly believe that they don't make furniture the way they used to. I love vintage or traditional furniture mixed with rustic or transitional - but I don't want to focus only on these styles. Often, rooms decorated only in vintage or traditional furniture strike me as heavy and overdone. I like the lightness that comes from seeing one style that then blends into another.
Want to See What I Mean? Check Out This Book
One of my favorite books is Abode by designer Lauren Liess. Talk about mixing styles! She combines modern, rustic, industrial all in one space... then she combines vintage with traditional in another.
I tore through this book and couldn’t get enough! Assuming you don't have this selection on your bookshelf, you can get a sense for her work on her website. I've linked to her portfolio here, so you can see what I'm talking about.
Homes Can Be Eclectic Even After They're Decorated
I love mixing as many styles as I can because it makes a space feel more lived in. More cozy. More like a HOME. Don't worry if your styles don't match. That means you're on the right track and have a much more interesting space than if they did. There's so much more to creating an attractive indoor space - elements like function, colors and textures must all come together in one space. If they don't, the space won't feel unified or comfortable.
When I'm working with a client, I work to bring together pieces that showcase memories. Create comfortable living spaces. Incorporate colors that excite yet relax us. I add textures that you can snuggle into at the end of the day.
If you can pull together a room that does all of these things, then you can create a beautifully decorated space - even when the furniture and decor borrows from a range of traditions and styles.
Need Help? Not Sure How to Mix Furniture Styles? I'm Here For You!
These concepts may sound simple, but they're not always easy to implement. That's why a lot of clients hire someone like me! I help people bring together a diverse collection of styles, creating interior spaces that are dynamic but comfortable, just like home should be.
When you're feeling stuck and not sure how to mix furniture styles effectively, I'm here for you. When we're working together, I'll find out which styles and colors enchant you, and then I'll help you bring them together in a configuration that feels natural, beautiful and fully like home. Click here for my services!
Until next time,
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