For a while, the buzzword in design has been “eclectic,” but what does that really mean? And how do you get the look without making a haphazard mess? What it all comes down to is how to use contrast to show off unique pieces, and really create a space that reflects your personality.
One of the most important elements in design is the idea of contrast. An obvious use of contrasting colors is to create emphasis and drama, but shapes and styles are another, subtle way to shift focus and make things interesting.
Contrast can be as bold as a red wall or painting, or as soft as a gray sofa on a darker grey wall. The trick is to pick an item or architectural element to be the focal point, and make it stand out against the other things around it. If you want to minimize something, blend those colors together. Tones as well as hues can be used to blend as well as draw the eye.
Red is the most attractive color, as our eyes focus on red items first. Being such a strong color, red should be used carefully, and not repeated too much in a space. Repeating a strong color weakens it. A single red sofa, chair, or pillow charges a space, but can be monotonous if overdone.
Most rooms are filled with rectangles and squares. Windows, doors, walls, rugs—mostly everything has straight lines. By using a curved piece, whether a rounded sofa or a circular mirror, you draw the eye instantly. Round rugs can be a bulls-eye in a room, which adds interest by being unexpected. However, as with color, you don’t want too much of a good thing.
Another aspect to consider is the height of the furniture pieces. Quite often, most of our furniture sits in the lower half of the space. Everything sits on the floor, and rarely goes past the mid-way mark of our walls. This is why large artwork, tall plants, and full-height shelving can change the proportions in a room dramatically. Another way to use the full height of a room is with curtains. Tall, elegant shapes in a room will help balance large, low sofas and beds.
Eclectic Style Mix
To really create personal style is to mix everything that you love. A modern sofa, an antique desk, framed photography—these are all things that can work together if they have the space around them to shine independently. To mix well, each item should be able to stand on its own and be able to breathe. Packing a bunch of chairs into a room doesn’t work unless they have something to tie them together. For the best mix, fewer pieces are the way to go. As we go through a room, our eyes need to rest. Simple colors and lines give us that rest, and purposeful areas of interest keep it from being dull. The trick with mixing styles is to keep some things simple and basic, so that the unusual things stand out. It’s a great way to show what things are important you.
Mixing colors, styles, and themes shouldn’t be difficult, and should be overworked. The best mixes are those rooted in simplicity. Start off with basics, and then layer in your collected and unusual statement pieces. It’s always easier to add than to take away!