By definition, the word ‘eclectic’ is an adjective referring to any décor composed of heterogeneous elements. In other words, it contains a mixture of textures, time period, styles, and colors. In this sense, eclectic is really based on a combination of the old and new; however, often the term is used to describe a person’s taste when no other description seems to fit. 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, a 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, they warn not mix lots of different styles and clashing colors and state the importance of ensuring that 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 work together. In the words of Lisa Gilmore of Lisa Gilmore Design, “You can’t have too many small pieces scattered without some weighing factors.”
Keeping these 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 that utilizes three different styles at one time. For instance, “transitional period glam, traditional, and masculine”. In essence, these three styles create a 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 One of the easiest ways to update an ‘out-of-date space’ is by adding a piece of modern art.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 principle can hold true the other way around; for a modern, 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’ts 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 in which to integrate an eclectic design. Interior designer Andi Pepper recommends mixing a colorful wall with a busy kitchen backsplash. The combination of the simple wall color and elegant background provide a unique mix of simple and complex that create an eclectic design. Founder of Semihandmade, John McDonald has another approach to the kitchen. McDonald encourages his customer to pick a simple style for their counters and floors and from there, he encourages them to really make it their own and dress up the space with something funky to create that eclectic design.