By definition, the word “eclectic” is an adjective referring to any décor composed of heterogeneous elements. In other words, a décor which contains a mixture of textures, time period, styles, and colors. In this sense, eclectic is really based off a combination of the old and new; however, many use the term to describe their taste when no other description comes to mind. Interior designer Andi Pepper hits the nail on the head: “The notion of being eclectic is to mix different styles and eras together to create a cohesive space, but you can’t simply put everything together. You have to have a sense of commonality about it, with thought put into the design.”
While the word eclectic may be used willy nilly, truly eclectic design is anything but that. Truly eclectic design is highly intentional. When attempting to achieve an eclectic design, there are a number of mistakes experts in the area warn against. Most commonly, do not mix lots of different styles and clashing colors. More so, ensure the juxtaposition of elements is integrated at the right scale. While the styles, colors, and themes can be different, all the elements as a whole need to match. In the words of Lisa Gilmore of Lisa Gilmore Design, “You can’t have too many small pieces scattered without some weighing factors.”
With the things to avoid in mind, there are a number of best practices in order to achieve a truly eclectic design. First off, specificity is key. Tiffany Brooks, on HGTV, embraces a strategy of utilizing three difference styles at one time. For instance, “transitional period glam, traditional, and masculine”. In essence, three styles together create the separation between old and new while still providing a sense of togetherness. Secondly, it is recommended to use art to better create an eclectic design. One of the easiest ways to update an “out-of-date space” is by adding a piece of modern art. The same can be said the other way around. For a modern and minimalistic space, classic art can be used to add an eclectic design. Finally, combining the use of metal and wood tones is an easy way to create the eclectic design.
Knowing some of the do’s and don’t of eclectic design allows you to analyze each space in your house to determine where you hit or miss the mark. While the kitchen may not be the first space you consider, it is one of the easiest places to integrate an eclectic design. Interior design Andi Pepper recommends mixing a colorful wall with a busy kitchen backsplash. The combination of the simple wall color and elegant background design provide a unique mix of simple and complex to create the eclectic design. Founder of Semihandmade, John McDonald has another approach to the kitchen. McDonald encourages his customer to pick simple designs for their counters and floors. From there, he encourages them to really make it their own and dress up the space with something funky to create that eclectic design.