With an eclectic style being the most versatile and out-of-the-box approach to design, we have found that it can be difficult to really pinpoint a consistent explanation of what it’s all about. This is one of the beautiful characteristics of this unique style though, and allows for your creative side to run free. Some may interpret this approach as far too off-the-wall for their taste, while others find it endearing and interactive. This comes as no surprise because of the vast number of differing applications of eclecticism. Unlike many other styles that typically are gauged on a two directional scale, the eclectic style can go any which way with only a small set of common elements and concepts. With this being a more difficult style to truly grasp, we felt it best that we offer some insight into the world of eclecticism to help you navigate through your design journey.
Elements of Eclectic Style
Beginning with the elements of this style, we will dive into each role of your overall interior design, and how to approach each one with eclecticism in mind.
With a style that can easily become overwhelming if not approached with consideration, you must first start with a plan. First things first, you should figure out your measurements. We’re talking room dimensions, furniture spacing, etc., because your layout will be the grounding force of your design. Whether you already have the furniture for the space or are needing to make a shopping trip, at least you will have your measurements in mind and will not overwhelm the space right off the bat. By creating a layout that flows and is a substantial setting for the rest of your design, you we be headed down the right track to a successful and coherent eclectic styled space. We always prefer a hand-drawn sketch up of the space to begin to visualize how the elements of the space will interact. This drawing is pretty detailed, but as long as you have a ruler and can figure basic ratios, make the sketch-up as simple as you want.
Of course once you have your layout all situated, it’s time to put your plan into action. Furniture either already exists or is need of gathering, so either measure what you’ve got or pack your tape measure to head to the furniture source of your choice. We will discuss color next, but for the sake of addressing the colors of your furniture we will make a few recommendations based on our eclectic design knowledge. When finding the right furniture to create your unique space, consider the role it will be playing in the end picture. Often designers will lean towards a neutral spread to create a base layer for your decor and accents hues. This is always a safe route to stick to so that you can change up the design down the road, if you so desire.
On the other hand, if there is that one go-to color you have in mind for this space, or maybe that you have throughout the rest of your home, you certainly explore your statement making furnishing options.
Color plays a distinctive role in eclectic style, in that it either workS with or against your design. It is important to be very thoughtful about your color choices and how they will work with each other. Begin with a color that will reinforce your grounding elements while also preparing the space for the accents and decor that will follow. You may consider a hue that you have incorporated throughout your home to assist in the consistency of your interiors. If you want to go a slightly different direction, or shall we say a complimentary direction, you can look for a solidifying color that not only speaks to your design taste but also creates a perfect match for another hues found in adjoining spaces.
A great way to really visualize how colors will work together is to create a paint board. Here you can take each sample and paint a swatch next to each other. It is a common practice for designers and artists to create their design boards (sometimes referred to as vision boards) where they will use images and color swatches to really set the tone for the space. It really comes in handy when you are on the hunt for decor, furnishings, or materials, because you can simply pull out your colors and see if they will work with each piece. Not to mention, you can see how the colors will look in various light sources and base your lighting choices on which warmth appeals to you the most. Be cautious when approaching your color choices, as too many clashing hues can cause the space to become chaotic and overwhelming. (This is an easy hole to fall into when approaching your eclectic style, and it is a common mistake to think that eclectic translates to “anything goes.”) Here are some great approaches to color in eclecticism:
Materials + Patterns
One of eclectic style’s defining features is its unique materials and patterns that embellish the space. From artwork to accent pillows, this is where things get adventurous and quirky. What’s a cupcake without its sprinkles? There are endless sources for those one of a kind additions that will make your space uniquely, you. This can also be a slippery slope if you are not prepared to make your curated selections. We suggest packing your color or design board along with your layout, so that you can avoid making snap decisions that will in turn bring your design past the cohesive line and into the distractive zone. We know those pillows are so soft, and those antique bookends are irresistible, but unless they are supportive of your goal eclectic interior, do not, we repeat, do not take them home.
There is a safe and balanced approach to bringing in multiple patterns, prints, designs, or whatever it may be, without turning your design into a distracting, over-stimulating jumble of things. We will discuss this more in depth in the concepts, but for now just stick to the obvious rules of thumb. Don’t bring in too many small intricate patterns into your space. Instead find a balance between your solid hues, some larger, more spaced out patterns, and then your small detailed prints. This applies to decor, rugs, and even your artwork. Also, stick to your color palette to help add to the fluidity of your design rather than creating a confetti mess of hues.
Based on your design choices thus far, you can successfully navigate through your lighting options to select the best and brightest fixture to illuminate your space. An easy direction to go, that will assist in keeping the room feeling relaxed and airy, is with a simple glass framed lantern like the one below. This fixture is sleek and modern, giving your assortment of accents and decor a more stylish presence. Through this simple option you can give your design a more intentional appearance by accentuating its modern qualities.
Via Home Life
If you prefer to break up the monotony of a white or single colored ceiling, than a more intricate and artistic approach may be just what this eclectic recipe calls for. This antique looking lantern gives the space a cultured and timeless quality that is hard to come by. With a color scheme that is somehow light + luxurious at the same time, this delicate yet statement making fixture creates the perfect balancing act for a successful eclectic design.
Concepts of Eclectic Style
Secondly, we just wanted to send you off with some go to guidance on the concepts of the eclectic style, and how it fits into your home.
Probably the most important concept to stick to while navigating through your eclectic design is balance. Without this concept present in your space, you immediately run the risk of one big hot mess. (We clearly cannot say this enough, which is why we’ve reiterated it more than a few times.) Consider the spatial balance of your room by creating a layout, as we previously addressed. Then work with the relationship of your chosen hues, following with an evaluation of the harmony of the space filled with your eclectic decor choices. Ask a friend to honestly tell you how they feel when they are in the space. Big red flags of course will be if they say “stressed out,” “overwhelmed,” or if they’re “not sure,” which translates to “what the heck is happening here.” If none of these phrases or their likings come out of their mouth, then give yourself a pat on the back because clearly you’re on the right track.
Always look to the basics if you feel lost or overwhelmed with choosing your decorative parts. Think of scale and symmetry and how too much of something can swallow a perfectly great space whole. For every detailed pattern or print, have a countering solid color or neutral hue to even out the playing field. (This explains why designers often lean towards neutral walls and furnishings to ground the surrounding, busier elements of eclectic style.)
Finding the right balance in your space will be the key to a successful eclectic design.
Do not forget the rest of your home and how your design will flow from one room to the next. Consider your home to be a chapter book that you make your way through, and if for example, your chapter book is a fairytale about princesses and dragons, it wouldn’t make any sense to have a chapter about the history of pancakes, now would it? Remember that this space is part of a whole collection of spaces that make up your home, and to throw in any hiccup could potentially disrupt the relaxing home sweet home feeling that you worked so hard to achieve. Remember to find common accent hues to bring into your space to help connect the dots and create a consistent theme throughout your home. This isn’t to say that you can’t have a modern kitchen, and then an eclectic styled living room. You just have to find their happy meeting place where one design leads into the next. (Think back to the modern lantern we introduced earlier. This is a perfect way to create a relationship between styles while still allowing their unique qualities to speak for the spaces.) Consistency is key.
Via Cup of Jo
Via Cup of Jo
This can be an easy concept to overlook, especially when working with eclecticism. Do not neglect to create a lovely focal point for your whimsical approach to a space. Whether it’s a painting that includes all of your key colors or a kelly green couch to draw in any wandering eye to its bold appearance, you must visually give your design a home base where the space peaks. This eye catching element will help your overall design exude focus, direction, and intention rather than becoming a hodge podge of items. Moral of the story: Focus on your focal point.
Do not be afraid of new things, things that you never even imagined liking. Explore new hues and bold patterns, search thrift stores and antique malls, and give your design time to settle in before you make quick changes. Eclectic style combines styles and period of all natures to come together into your unique and highly curated space that is unlike any other. With a lack of rules or strict guidelines, the world is your design oyster when diving into a sea of eclecticism. Let the bold colors that you have a love-hate relationship with grow on you for awhile before you give them the final judgement day. You may be surprised what you learn to love, and even find that you can’t live without. By letting your creative side run wild, you open the doors to inspiration from the most unlikely of places and give yourself the opportunity to indulge in self expression and fearlessness.