Here's How to Pull Off an Eclectic Decorating Style

Design insiders reveal how to pull off the look—and share decor mistakes to avoid.

eclectic decor
Eric Piasecki

An eclectic approach to decorating can be challenging. For advice on how to pull off this unique aesthetic in your home, we invited interior designer Jennifer Adams, author of Love Coming Home, interior designer Rita Konig and mid-century modern furniture company Joybird to share their the do's and dont's.

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DO: Mix Textures

Incorporating both rough and smooth textures adds interest to an interior, especially when you choose a simple color palette. "Consider shaggy throw rugs or pillows, nubby or thick, weave fabrics on furniture, rough wooden treasures or furniture, and soft, smooth finishes on iron or other metals," says Adams.

DON'T: Forget to Use One Texture Multiple Times

While combining textures is key, there's also room to use one texture at least three times in different spots throughout a home, Adams advises. It helps to maintain a cohesive look.

Courtesy of Rita Koning

DO: Consider Negative Spaces

When it comes to an eclectic decorating style, know that your eye needs a place to rest. "Keep some spaces on shelves and tables empty, and consider the outline of an array of artwork for an interesting shape of the wall behind," Adams says. "It’s not just about what you display. Sometimes it’s about what you leave out."

DON'T: Display Your Entire Collection

There's no need to put your entire collection on display all at once. To maintain an environment that's full of character, Adams prefers to mix things up. "Edit to just your favorite few, and rotate the pieces for variety or seasonally," she says.

DO: Consider Layout

When planning out an eclectic style space, it's easy to get caught up in which colors, textures, and patterns will bring the look together. However, don't forget about placement. "I think layout is one of the most important things in a room, more than the color or the fabrics," says Konig. "The layout of the furniture is what will make it comfortable and feel like a room you want to be in." Before you start purchasing decor for the room, nail down where each piece of furniture will go. You may find you actually don't have space for that quirky floor lamp or 19th-century chest.

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DON'T: Forget A Focal Point

When you arrange your layout, remember: Though eclectic style does involve combining styles and periods through a wide variety of items, the curated look shouldn't lack focus. Joybird suggests creating a focal point (or accentuating an existing one) with an eye-catching element — say, an accent wall, fireplace, or bold decorative item.

Courtesy of Rita Konig

DO: Consider Utility

As you determine the decor you'll incorporate into your eclectic design, don't forget that the room is meant to be lived in. "Let utility inform your decorations," says Konig. "It is quite daunting to be faced with an empty room and have to consider the colors and fabrics you'll use to decorate it, but utility is a great decorator. Think of how you use a room to help pull it together." Consider baskets, bookshelves, drinks trays, and card tables. These elements lend a cozy, lived-in atmosphere to your room.

DON'T: Be Inconsistent

The nature of eclectic style is varied, but each room in your home should still complement the others. "Carry eclecticism throughout your home to create flow," suggests Joybird. "Your space will look disjointed if the style changes abruptly from one room to the next." If you decide your home is ready for an eclectic upgrade, make it a commitment that's reflected in each room throughout the house.

Courtesy of Rita Konig
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DO: Pick One Go-To Color

One color should serve as a unifying factor throughout your design. "Let color serve as the great equalizer, pulling together the overall look," suggests Joybird. Whether your go-to color is an olive green or off-white, consistently return to it while decorating for a cohesive look.

DON'T: Compare Hues

When you're picking your go-to color, don't be tempted to sample paints on the wall, making your decision from a lineup of colors. "The colors will do weird things to each other, and it will get very confusing," says Konig. "Paint the colors you like onto boards, then look at them in isolation." Painted boards also come in handy for reference when you're shopping for decor or fabrics.

Courtesy of Rita Konig

DO: Practice Balance

Make it a goal to find balance in scale and symmetry. "Similar lines create design harmony, even if the pieces are different styles, textures, or from different periods," says Joybird. Don't sacrifice organization for diversity.

DON'T: Mistake Eclectic For "Anything Goes"

Styling eclectic rooms doesn't mean tossing every rule. "There's a very fine line between layered and collected to busy and distracting," says Joybird. "Put a cap on the number of contrasting styles in one room to avoid things feeling random."

Uxio Lopex Perez
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DO: Give New Styles A Chance

When you try a new eclectic style, and don't like the outcome, don't give in to the temptation to change it right away. "Wait until the room is complete and live with it for a while," says Konig. "The things that feel like a big deal when you are first decorating a room [like an unexpectedly bright paint color] fall into the background once the space becomes filled with furniture and other items."

DON'T: Be Reserved

Eclectic style is characterized by a multitude of fabrics, patterns, and art items. "Home accents like rugs, paintings, objects d'art, and throw pillows are convenient ways to bring a considered mismatch into any room," says Joybird.

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