It’s Eclectic! The Easy New Way to Decorate If You Like to Break the Rules

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We all gravitate toward certain decor schemes, whether it’s Mid-Century Modern, glam, traditional, or even Joanna Gaines-inspired farmhouse chic.

But what if you can’t be pinned down to just one look?

If you detest anything matchy-matchy and love to break a few rules when it comes to your decor, we’ve got good news: You’ve already got a good start on the fun and funky trend known as eclectic style. This decor option offers you a blank check to reject more traditional looks in favor of loosely arranging your assortment from different places and time periods.

“Eclectic style is definitely real—it’s literally a combination of a variety of looks that don’t necessarily match, but that certainly coordinate,” explains Justin Riordan, of Spade and Archer Design Agency.

Think: bold pops of color, a Mid-Century couch, and a couple of antique chairs. The look is casual, earth-friendly—and it’s riding a wave of popularity.

“With the influx in environmental design of late, we’re seeing the reuse of older furniture and buildings that mix new pieces and additions,” he explains.

And if you’re working on a budget (and frankly, who isn’t?), eclectic style fits the bill nicely, notes Beverly Solomon of the eponymous design firm. “This theme allows you to put together interesting and affordable art and decor that reflects your view and personality,” she says.

Origins of eclectic style

The eclectic look is hardly new. Even though it’s in the spotlight these days, eclecticism actually came about in the early 1900s, with the Arts and Crafts movement. “It became hip for progressives and thinkers to fit art and furnishings into their homes to achieve a more personal feeling, rather than one particular style,” Solomon explains.

Sounds familiar, right? Today’s homeowners are once again turning to eclectic style to show off a distinctive touch to their decor.

Just beware: Eclectic decor might allow you to break some rules, but it isn’t a totally lawless design scheme. If this style speaks to you, read on for how to make it work in your home—without veering into tacky territory.

Eclectic style embraces bold colors

Sure, we’ve long been told that a room’s colors should be cohesive. But with eclectic style, your shades can skew bold and bright.

“Don’t be shy about mixing yellow, pinks, emerald greens, reds and bright blues,” says Lisa Conley of 27 Diamonds Interior Design in Orange County, CA.

To pull it all together, use a neutral base, like white or a quiet gray, adds Barbara McInnis Hayman, owner of Decorating Den Interiors in Pottstown, PA. “If the look seems too ‘quiet,’ choose any signature accent hue for a pop of color.”

Use a variety of furniture styles

There’s no single line of eclectic furniture. (That would defeat the point, right?) But you can achieve the look by borrowing from a couple of styles—or just use a mismatch of things you already own, Riordan suggests.

“You could try a contemporary sofa with a Victorian table, modern lamps, and a Hudson River Valley-style painting,” he says.

Conley especially likes to combine Mid-Century Modern and shabby chic pieces. These pieces aren’t from the same time period, but if you consider scale and composition, the furniture placement will look intentional—and tell a story.

For instance, try using different kinds of chairs around the dining table. They don’t have to match, but they should have at least one aspect that ties them together—maybe they’re all rounded at the top or they’re roughly the same size.

Accessorize with flair

Here’s your chance to make your mark with eclectic style on the cheap: Pile on the pillows, hang up a funky wall gallery, create a jungle of succulents, or stack art books to use as side tables.

“Or you could hang collages that mix mirrors, art, and photos,” Conley adds.

Incorporate details from your travels or anything that speaks to you—eclectic style is highly personal.

Showcase a riot of texture and pattern

Not enough oomph from those accent pillows? Go wild with your look, by layering patterns.

“You might combine a geometric fabric with a textured solid, or a smooth, silky fabric with a patterned piece,” says Hayman.

But don’t go too crazy with stripes upon stripes, plus polka dots and plaids. Keep one thing solid, like the wall color shown above. This quiet, deep teal mixes nicely with the patterns in the rug and chairs.

Work toward balance when you approach eclectic style, Riordan urges. Each room should have old and new, dark and light, small items and big, without becoming overwhelming.

“The point of this look is to make the space easier to live in and live with,” he says. “It’s a home, not a theme park.”

Toe the line between ‘eclectic’ and ‘ewww’

Eclectic homeowners must edit ruthlessly, lest their rooms run amok. One huge sign, like the one above, is fine—but no more.

“The challenge here is to create a pleasant melting pot of elements, not a Balkan massacre,” Solomon says.

One way to know whether you’ve crossed the line with your decor scheme is by taking note of how friends and family react.

“Is there a look of horror when people enter your living room, or do you receive sincere compliments on your mix-and-match design?” asks Solomon.

Another sign is your ability to maintain the look. If you’ve got too much stuff everywhere, you’ll spend hours stacking books and layering throw pillows.

Instead, consider each new piece and decide whether it’ll enhance your look or ignite a hot mess. In the end, you want a room that’s carefully curated, not cluttered and chaotic.


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Super-Size Tubs, Tiny Kitchens and 3 other 2015 Design Trends

1. Bathrooms go big-time

Baths will emerge in 2015 as “the most sumptuous room in the house,” says designer and Marc Jacobs favorite Stephan Jaklitsch. He notes a shift away from ho-hum tiles in favor of monolithic slabs of marble and exotic stone.

Victoria & Albert “Drayton” free-standing tub, $4,500 at Simon’s Hardware & Bath, 421 Third Ave. Photo: Handout

Victoria & Albert “Drayton” free-standing tub, $4,500 at Simon’s Hardware & Bath, 421 Third Ave. Photo: Handout

At Simon’s Bath in downtown Manhattan, design consultant Shiv Persaud says ultra-chic, free-standing tubs will help infuse city apartments with a spalike atmosphere.

He notes that tub trends vary by geography: Urbanites are embracing tubs from Quebec-based hydrotherapy leader BainUltra (from $2,595), which offer massage features as well as aroma-, thermo- and chromatherapies ideally suited for stressed-out New Yorkers.

Suburban dwellers, meanwhile, have a penchant for footed soaking tubs like the “Drayton” ($4,500) from UK-based Victoria & Albert, whose volcanic limestone models promise more traditional comforts.

Bathroom fixtures, meanwhile, are shifting across the board from chrome to polished, uncoated brass, along with more exotic matte-black finishes, like those from Dornbracht’s Tara line, which Persaud suggests will be a top seller this year.

2. Luxe lighting fixtures

Statement lighting will grow even more important this year, says architect Peter Pennoyer, who sources fine vintage fixtures from auction houses to play up ceiling details and play down aesthetic flaws.

“Aurora” lamp, $4,580 for two at Photo: Handout

“Aurora” lamp, $4,580 for two at Photo: Handout

Trending now are European-influenced sculptural lights from the ’50s and ’60s, many of which Pennoyer acquires from specialized dealers like Remains Lighting and Fred Silberman in Manhattan.

“If you’re going to invest in special vintage lighting, you have to consider the size of the fixture and the space it’s going in,” Pennoyer explains.

His picks: the circa 1960 three-tier Austrian crystal “Kinkeldey” chandelier ($9,000), which combines transitional modernist style, European heritage and luminosity, or an Arredoluce chandelier ($14,500 from Retro Modern).

The “Anwar” electroplated steel hanging lamp ($4,615) from Stephen Burks Man Made offers a modern twist on tribal basketwork, while Christopher Spitzmiller’s “Aurora” table lamps ($4,580 for two)  evoke Ming mod.

Covetable and collectible, these pieces are sure to become any home’s bright spots.

3. ‘Modern eclectic’ is style of the year

Decorating a home in floor-to-ceiling midcentury décor is so yesterday. Interior tastemakers are now shifting toward “modern eclecticism.” The style embraces ultra high-end modernist — or modernist-inspired — furnishings but encourages blending them with pieces from other eras.

Shawn Henderson “Alloy” chair, $8,000 at Photo: Handout

Shawn Henderson “Alloy” chair, $8,000 at Photo: Handout

Designer Analisse Taft-Gersten is now leaning toward new interpretations of classic midcentury pieces, such as Shawn Henderson’s “Alloy” chair ($8,000), a sort of Bauhaus-meets-Adirondack lounger, and his “Mercury” daybed ($9,750), an austere cushioned bench that stands alone as an art piece dressed up with pillows.

Also flowing in this nouveau modernist vein is Warren Platner’s glass-topped dining table ($3,572), with a base made of curved steel spindles and an elegant design that plays well with other styles in the home.

Finishing with a statement piece, such as the 1980s embossed-lizard “Pergamon” credenza by Karl Springer ($25,000), is a confident gesture that keeps a room intriguing while adding a layer of funky functionality.

4. Bringing nature indoors

Organic modernism is the next big thing in New York’s most stylish homes. But these natural shapes and earthy materials evoke the tastes of a well-traveled curator rather than a Poconos lodge keeper.

Triple-burnt teak table, $2,400 at Andrianna Shamaris, 261 Spring St. Photo: Handout

Triple-burnt teak table, $2,400 at Andrianna Shamaris, 261 Spring St. Photo: Handout

The trend has been hottest downtown but is now migrating to Brooklyn, says Tribeca designer Jenny Wolf. “Natural elements lend so much texture, and they’re so different from what we’ve seen in harsh, contemporary lines,” she explains. Wolf recommends anchoring a room with a solid piece, like a triple-burnt teak coffee table by Andrianna Shamaris ($890 to $5,900) or her petrified wood side table ($4,500).

Alternatively, she suggests bold, stand-alone objects like those from legendary French designer Elizabeth Garouste, who incorporates a variety of organic forms — animal, tribal, nature — in her sculptural furniture and décor.

Her latest collection, “Garouste,” debuting at the Ralph Pucci furniture gallery Feb. 5, includes the “Iris” resin mirror encircled with giraffes ($12,250).

5. Kitchens hidden in plain sight

“In the past, no one wanted smaller appliances,” says Highlyann Krasnow, who oversees design as a partner at MNS, the NYC-based realty brokerage firm. “But with apartments trending small, no one is balking anymore.”

Refrigerator drawers, from $3,850 at Sub-Zero, 150 E. 58th St. Photo: Handout

Refrigerator drawers, from $3,850 at Sub-Zero, 150 E. 58th St. Photo: Handout

High on Krasnow’s short list is the 24-inch Bertazzoni gas range ($1,999), which combines simple Italian design and function and tucks into modest spaces.

For some urban dwellers, notes Johannes Knoops, an associate professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology, kitchen appliances may disappear altogether, hiding under the counter disguised as cabinetry.

“Europeans have known this secret for years,” he says. “A clever way to achieve a grander living space is to covertly tuck away your fridge and freezer, blurring the boundary between kitchen and living.”

American brands like Sub-Zero are now embracing that look, offering under-counter refrigerator drawers in widths from 15 to 36 inches ($3,850 to $4,600). Also blending the lines are Hinkley swivel barstools ($660 each), available from Arteriors.

Made of iron and polished Brazilian wood, they seamlessly stand beside living room furniture — ideal for open layouts where la cucina meets le salon.

This article is from It was originally published by Lana Bortolot on New York Post.