Eclectic Decor: How to Get It Right

Stylemaker Secrets: What is Eclectic?
Highly personal in character, successful eclectic decor combines elements from different design periods and decorating styles in thoughtfully edited ways. Here's how to create eclectic rooms using your favorite furnishings, colors, and collections.

Style Picks

Though eclectic rooms combine varying design elements, these looks are not as freewheeling as you might think. Successful spaces are built around one key decorating style, with other styles taking on supporting roles. Here, transitional furnishings provide streamlined frames that spotlight a lively mix of traditional and modern accent fabrics, a global array of calypso-hue collections, and fun tropical-bird portraits, which personalize the living room. 

Rely on Texture

Layer in a diverse array of textures that visually link different decorating styles. Bamboo blinds and a tall tripod lamp with a woven shade sound natural notes that are balanced by modern furnishings, such as the polished marble-topped chrome coffee table and a mid-century metal chair. A plush area rug and weathered vintage collections contribute distinctive textures that perform as neutrals.

Curate, Curate, Curate

Resist the urge to over-decorate. Adding in too much stuff or too many design ideas can result in visual chaos. Look for ways to unify eclectic elements, such as through a color scheme. Here, pieces are united by a black-and-white scheme rather than origin. French toile fabric marries mismatched vintage and modern chairs, while contemporary striped ottomans (set beneath a black-framed table) present the high-contrast color combo in a livelier manner. Gray walls and curtains, along with accessories in neutral finishes also wrap the room in cohesiveness. 

Neutral Foundation

Since eclectic design melds details from many styles, it's best to start with neutral backgrounds that later let you shift displays as the mood strikes. Gallery-like walls highlight modern canvasses and industrial, lodge, and farmhouse finishes in this modern dining area. An antler chandelier and a vintage Hudson-style blanket energize the laidback scheme by contributing rustic profiles and period patterns. 

Neutral Plus Color

If you want a little more color, try a neutral foundation, plus one signature accent color, in this case, putty and milk chocolate plus citron. A simplified color palette makes way for a myriad of books and mementos. Thoughtfully positioned tomes put the spotlight on tarnished trophies, a shapely chunk of wood, and a shiny mid-eastern brass finial, which lend global distinction to the bookcase. Strategically spaced fashion-sketch drawings, penciled landscapes, and a subtly colored map inspired the fabric selections, which are rendered in modern colors and patterns. 

Perfectly Patterned

One part traditional, one part modern, and one part vintage, this living room reads as a well-organized design thanks to patterned textiles that draw on a shared palette of blue, green, orange, and red. The striking scheme, pulled from an abstract artwork above the sofa, repeats in different tones, textures, and motifs to boost the room's Boho-chic appeal.

Add Unexpected Forms

Display sentimental favorite things in bold ways to personalize eclectically styled spaces. Land, sea, and modern references make individual statements in this graphically striped recreation room. Thanks to the homeowner's use of neutral upholstered pieces and rugs, this room's most important pieces--a tree-trunk table, a wall-mounted surfboard, and a turquoise chair--are easily seen and appreciated. 

Opt for Continuity

This lovely living room proves that refined furnishings, relaxed fabrics, glitzy finishes, and rough-woven elements play well together when linked by color. The drapery fabric's turquoise tones come forward as tufted velvet chairs, accessories, and a cozy throw. Sandy tans show-up as a transitional-style sofa, a casual sisal rug, and polka-dot pillows. The mirrored coffee table glamorously anchors the conversation grouping, while advantageously reflecting every color in the space. 

Mix Periods

But, when you do, practice restraint and forge color connections. Limit your color palette, fabric patterns, and themes so period patinas and vintage silhouettes claim the spotlight. These homeowners grouped black-and-white mid-century chairs, a camel-hued Victorian loveseat, and a modern metal table atop a striped area rug that playfully repeats the colors and stripes seen on a framed flag. They massed their seascape paintings on one wall so that they read as a single exhibit, which in turn simplifies the overall look. 

Aptly Exhibit

Eclectic spaces are well suited to artistic types who revel in the handmade, the unique, and the colorful. If you find beauty in a diverse array of handcrafted and found objects, you're an artist at heart. Employ neutral walls, solid-colored furnishings, and understated wood finishes to focus attention on your art collection. Use framed groupings or single canvases to define work and recreation areas; hang plain shelves to display a free-spirited medley of items. 

Showcase Your Interests

This recently remodeled dining room, which melds formal, rustic, and classic furniture, works beautifully because it reflects the homeowner's beer-making and metal-crafting talents. A ceiling-mounted pendant crafted by the homeowner, a cowhide rug, and very-neat seats, mismatched in style, color, and shape, partner with an old trestle table to create a collected look. 

Find a Muse

Pick a starting point when building an eclectic space, but don't be afraid to mix styles and design influences as you do. Lovely, vividly hued vintage bird prints inspired this bedroom's color scheme. Chartreuse green shows-up as an antique carpet and as a modern bedstead upholstered in a traditional velvet; deeper greens sprout as throw pillows; hot pink appears on a contemporary printed fabric and a wooly throw. 

Establish Character

This dining room celebrates pieces that span the ages, while artfully bridging casual and formal styles. It beautifully melds abstract and realistic artworks and sets chicly detailed furnishings on a hand-painted canvas floor cloth to create an eclectically high-fashion look. The mantel display handily illustrates the idea that black-and-white images, no matter their subject matter, always make for attractively cohesive groupings.

Consider Mood

Consider the feeling you want your eclectically styled space to convey. This living room combines formal and flights-of-fancy forms, which in turn give the room an airy, modern feel. A whimsical tree-trunk table and a vintage chair dressed in wide stripes introduce unexpected textures and patterns that act as charming counterpoints to the room's more staid furniture designs and gilded finishes. 

Old and new, formal and relaxed, classic and contemporary. Eclectic style means something different for everyone, so how do you create a look that speaks to you? Find out from designer Bridgid Coulter.

Stylemaker Secrets

Designer Bridgid Coulter gives a 101 on eclectic style and tips on how to make the look work for you.

Share the gallery

Better Homes & Gardens may receive compensation when you click through and purchase from links contained on this website.