Eclectic Decorating

Eclectic decorating is not so much about having a mix of styles and themes all in the same room, it’s about loving more than one style and finding a way to indulge it.  It’s a person who has way to many favorite things and needs to find just the right look to fit them in the same room.

The commonly accepted design definition of eclectic is a mix of styles that make up one individualized look.  So how do you decorate eclectically in your living room using your beloved favorites without ending up with a total decorating disaster on your hands?


If your furniture and accessories have a variety of colors, you may want to to go neutral with wall color to ground or tie in the other pieces.  Trying to match one of the pieces you love with your wall color may result in a complete color clash of another item, sinc your furniture doesn't match in eclectic style.


There are some furniture styles that can be combined, and some that can’t.  Look for common elements in furniture to mesh together the styles.  Use the lines, materials, colors or upholstery to keep styles on track.  Your contemporary sofa will mesh nicely with an Asian table for example, as both have straight, clean lines.


Some accessory styles clash, some don’t.  Formal victorian with rustic pieces can actually blend together quite well.  For instance, a Victorian still life painting near a rustic wood planting bench both carry the floral or garden theme and mix together nicely.  What won’t work is a modern piece of artwork next to an antique lace runner.  There’s nothing to tie the items together.

Have accessories that are varied, but related in some way – color, theme or texture.  Your prized piece of carved wood African art can be placed with a rustic wooden bucket by virtue of both being wood.  So there is a way to work in your prized possessions or travel souvenirs.

To define the eclectic style in your living room, you may need to make a few small changes to get just the look that works.  You don’t need to completely makeover your room or break your budget, as eclectic can incorporate so many design elements, but take steps to define the eclectic style in your living room:

  • Survey the room objectively, be prepared to remove anything broken, ugly or with no redeeming features. (Insert any spouse joke here to spice up the project);
  • Take an assessment of the larger furniture pieces, do any need repainting, reupholstering or can it get by as it stands?   Accessories should be reviewed as well, and group them by object to assess – photos, art, etc.  Now’s the time to rid the room of accessories you don’t like.
  • Find the commonality in your furnishings and accessories – it may be a color, the lines, or something that only you can see.  But if you see it, you’ll decorate in such a way that others will see it.

There are no hard and fast rules for eclectic living rooms, but combining elements for harmony help define an eclectic living room.