Blending Style and History

It’s time to stop worrying about perfectly matching furniture. If you like it, it will all work out — with a few simple rules. By Kimberly Merritt Design-savvy homeowners appreciate beautiful surroundings, but they also want them to reflect their own personal style as well. In today’s fashionable interior design circles, “eclectic” is a look that is here to stay. The way we live and what we love have become more important than the latest trends in home fashion. People have gained more confidence in their own taste and in their own ability to decorate their homes. Strict adherence to any one historically correct style is considered a tired concept. In its place comes the layering of sometimes-opposing design elements. Traditionally, interior decorators looked for things that went together when beginning a project, but are now getting away from that “matchy-matchy” look so common years ago. We’re combining furnishings and objects that don’t necessarily come from the same period of time or from the same place. Modern eclectic has both reference to the past and present and transcends time. Objects and treasures collected from around the world, artisan pieces procured from local markets and tag-sale finds are now combined with ease. Eclectic style showcases personal interests often with a dash of quirkiness or whimsy. It’s a style that can comfortably combine ultra-modern, antique and the unusual together in the same room — producing adventurous, often colorful spaces. The beauty of eclectic style is that it won’t look like everyone else’s interior, but there are some rules that still need to be followed. You can mix the old with the new, but the key to this method is attention to scale, proportion and color. You are striving to achieve contrast and surprise, balance and harmony — all while creating a highly individual look. Start with the “bones” of the room. There should be one unifying element throughout. The simplest way to achieve this is with color. Colors should flow from room to room so everything else can work together. Once colors have been chosen, it’s time to think about furnishings. A mix of rustic furniture paired with antique Oriental rugs and contemporary art on the walls or the blend of a 1940s mirrored chest, an animal skin rug with black-and-white photographs are just a couple of examples. If mixing furnishings right now seems overwhelming, you can practice with the details of your home. Focus on the ornamentation and embellishments instead and choose items you genuinely love. Accessories for a dining room might include uniting a vintage English tea set; a few Asian objets d‘art and rustic French pottery artfully displayed on a sideboard. Textiles are also a great way to add interest and individuality to your home. Try placing a Kuba raffia mat in an entry or use an Indian sari as a throw or spread. The mix can span many cultures and may hint at a homeowner’s global lifestyle. Art in an eclectic interior doesn’t have to match, but there are a few guidelines to observe when selecting combinations. Photographs, prints and paintings successfully brought together should be of similar size or proportion as well. You can also unify a collection with a variety of interesting frames or matte styles. Shake up your interiors and start to mix things up a bit. NH Kimberly Merritt is a Peterborough-based interior designer. Her Web site,, offers numerous tips for “redesign.” Edit Module
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