It's one of those go-to interior design words you hear everywhere..."eclectic" this, eclectic that...
But what does it mean?
We see this word describe so many different things, but this is supposed to be a cohesive design style?
See, that's just the thing...the eclectic style is so successful because it is not necessarily cohesive, at least in the traditional sense.
Eclectic is a mix of different phases, a balance of old and new, East and West.
The eclectic style is based on you, furniture pieces you adore, style elements you love, eclectic style is you-style.
"It is you, curated."
That's not to say that eclectic styling is completely random. Believing that eclectic design can be a mishmash of items strewn together is one of the main reasons getting eclectic to work is so hard.
Eclectic design still follows basic functions of interior design, but without such strict rules.
Basically, eclectic style meshes together a variety of styles and time periods and brings them together using cohesive elements like color, texture, and finish.
Being eclectic is being daring, willing to bend the rules, and break traditions.
Eclectic style is a bit tricky to get a handle on, but I'll walk you through some elements that will help guide you through your style journey!
6 Beautiful Elements of Eclectic Interior Design
1. Mismatched Furniture
One of the most common elements of eclectic design is mismatched furniture.
Some people take this to mean throwing together a conglomeration of styles and colors haphazardly, but as you can see below, that's not the point of being eclectic.
The dining room above has mismatched chairs, yes. the chairs are of different styles and colors: we have a white Scandinavian chair, a rustic natural wood chair, modern black benches, and simple white benches, and a pop of green in a patio chair.
And yet, despite all the different styles and colors... don't they go together?
The trick is to unify the different pieces by linking them through color...All of these chairs compliment each other because they go well with natural wood.
The green is the only "outlandish" color in the scheme, but that green certainly goes with the wood tone, and in essence, we get a natural, fun, eclectic space.
You can also mix and match furniture styles on a larger scale, like the example above. You can see that the bar cabinet is very traditional in shape and finish, and yet the chair in the foreground is mid-century modern, almost Scandinavian.
So why do these different styles work together? They have complimentary wood tones!
(Which also tie in with the floor.)
The fun bedroom above mixes a floral, elaborate headboard with traditional side tables and modern lighting.
The whites of the furniture brings it all together and the symmetry of the silver metal lights gives the room a sense of balance, despite its mixing and matching.
2. Old and New
Another way the eclectic style mixes and matches is by mixing old elements
and new elements. Bringing in elements from different time periods is a wonderful staple of eclectic design and a great example of how it breaks the mold.
Look at the great mix of old and new in the living room above!
The tribal elements, like the oriental rug and the blue and white sculptural piece do not feel out of place with the modern sofa and pillows and the simple, modern table.
The mix of old and new gives the eclectic space a well-traveled look!
The neutral space above mixes many classic elements, like the chair shapes, the elegant table, the worn wood door, and the Greek bust and pairs them with those streamlined, completely simple tables.
Because all of these elements are connected by the nuetral color scheme, there is no disparity in style!
3. Simple Backdrop
The eclectic style, because it is so varied and daring, looks best against a simple background...neutral wall colors make the focus stay on the eclectic elements.
I go into this a lot in my post about decorating with white walls. If you have a lot of interesting things in your space, it can be overwhelming if your wall color is too powerful.
The furniture and art really stands out in the room above! Because the background is so light, the beautiful furniture pops and the dark blue art becomes the focus of the room.
Can you imagine if the wall was painted that dark blue? Everything would blend in, the art would disappear.
The white chair would probably stand out a bit more, but the rest of the room would become a blur of blue.
Choosing a neutral makes your eclectic tastes stand out so much brighter!
4. A few styles. In one.
That's right, the best part of eclectic design is being able to mix and match everything.
This means that you can choose two (or more) design styles, and if you're smart, blend them together to create something uniquely eclectic and uniquely you!
The room above is a mixture of mid-century modern and tribal.
The 70's sofa and lighting fixture (along with that specific retro orange) give the room that mid century modern vibe.
The tribal elements, like the rug, the shaggy blanket, and the black table with the mountain design contrast with the 70s elements, but work together because of complimenting colors.
The tribal rug draws in the orange of the sofa and the black side table draws in the black from the rug and compliments the orange very well.
The room above is a fun mixture of shabby chic, art deco, and romantic design elements.
The florals work with the black and white and gold accents, even though each is of a different style.
The romantic, classic headboard looks beautiful with the modern printed pillows, and my favorite part of the room is probably the golden unicorn head on the wall!
This kitchen is a mixture of minimalist Scandinavian design and rustic design. The room is white, bright, and simple, yet the major furniture elements are natural, worn wood.
Why does this mixture of styles work so well?
Why do the streamlined appliances and modern light fixtures pair so well with the rustic elements?
Mainly, because white and wood work so well together!
Be creative, choose the design styles that speak most to you. Which elements of those styles do you love the most? Mesh those together to create an eclectic look, and tie it all together with color.
5. Contrasting Textures
Another way to balance out an eclectic design is by using contrasting textures.
Along with colors that compliment your design, you should choose textures that contrast, but work well together. To see what I mean, check out these examples...
This eclectic design contrasts a metallic gold with matte black and glass to create a modern yet classic space.
The ornate gold mirror frame and the modern glass table wouldn't normally be paired together, would they?
But this design works so elegantly because the matte black and gold are repeated throughout the room and tied together with, you guessed it, colors that compliment!
The ornate woods, jute rug, gold finishes, and fuzzy throw blanket are the competing textures in the room above.
The mix of gold and wood is a mix of modern and antique which really pairs well together, even though it doesn't suit a particular design style!
6. Standout Pieces
When designing an eclectic space, don't be afraid to choose one or two standout pieces!
Eclectic design thrives on risk-taking, and choosing a sofa with a pop of color or adding an interesting pattern to a space can really make a difference!
The pieces that pop out to me in the space above are the gorgeous posters on the wall.
While the main area of the room has a modern look, those art pieces give the room a fun, quirky, carnival-esque feel. Each art piece brings in the red of the sofa on the right, which ties these very different feels together beautifully.
If you don't want to go quite as bold, adding a pattern that will stand out is another way to go.
In the office above, the black and white polka dot lamp shades really stand out against the mostly white backdrop. While the rest of the room (minus the rug and the painting) is fairly neutral and simple, these lamp shades add personality and a pop of fun to the space.
Can you guess what the standout pieces are in the space above?
Those blue accent chairs!
Accent chairs are one of my favorite things ever. The rest of the room is made up of fairly warm-toned colors, and these blue chairs add a satisfying contrast to the space.
They do tie in with a few small accessories in the room, but I think they could stand alone in this space!
I hope you enjoyed learning about the eclectic style, I know I did!
Always remember, don't throw a bunch of different things into a space and expect it to just "be eclectic."
The #1 key to creating a successful eclectic home is by bringing your contrasting elements together with unifying colors!
After reading this post, I hope you can answer these questions!
- What is eclectic style?
- What are the elements of eclectic interior design?
- What does it mean to be eclectic?
- How do you effectively decorate with an eclectic style?