Art Of Mismatching: Getting The Interior Design Balance Right

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fusion interior design

Contrasting styles and colors in an interior design can bring your space to life. But, it can confuse if not balanced correctly. Here’s how to get it right.


The word “mismatched” is changing. It’s no longer a gaff to place disparate colors, patterns, and styles together. In fact, this method can unlock all kinds of design possibilities, not to mention miles of personality and life to a space.

Some of the coolest interior spaces use mismatch to very intriguing effects. But how do you create a mismatched space that’s visually eye-catching and uncluttered? By sticking to a few tips and tricks, your old inherited furniture and great thrift store finds will come together in a chic new look.

Use just one color

Returning to design basics when trying to tie together mismatched pieces is the best place to start. Choose one color for your room and stick with that color. You can sparingly use an accent color or two to keep everything from being monochromatic, but for the big stuff and especially for the mismatched stuff, a single color will create a naturally cohesive look.

Focus on similar patterns and designs

Got a lot of floral dishes? Consider making an intentionally mismatched set by putting together, for example, any type of white dishes as long as they have flowers in warm colors on them. By keeping your patterns similar, the mismatched look appears intentional rather than random.

The same goes for design. Two very different picture frames might look strange next to each other, but four silver picture frames of different styles are interestingly eclectic.

Traditional Dining Room by London Photographers Chris Snook

Choose an era

Antiques are great because they tell a story, so keep that story cohesive. Often items from a single era or decade will have cohesive elements even if they don’t match in the strictest sense of the word. Old Victorian-style furniture, for example, looks very ornate; even if you don’t have pieces that exactly match, giving your room an ornate Victorian twist in all its decor will pull together a classy look, more so than sticking an old Victorian settee next to a 50s couch.

Limit your textures

A room with too many competing textures looks hectic, no matter how well everything else matches, whereas a room with cohesive textures might mismatch in other areas and still appear sleek. Choose one or two complimentary textures (like wood and stone, or wood and fabric) for each room, and arrange your decor accordingly. If many of your items are wood, giving them the same stain or the same coat of paint will help even the most mismatched items look intentional.

Eclectic Entry by Brooklyn Photographers Corynne Pless

Spread mismatched items throughout multiple rooms

Maybe you’ve inherited a bunch of mismatched antique furniture over the years, or you have a lot of collectible items you want to show off. By spreading these items throughout your house instead of clustering them into one room, you give yourself more design leeway. Maybe two items are the same material, but the third is not. Place that third item into a different room, where you can accent around it much more easily than trying to find things that will tie three very different pieces together.

Mismatched doesn’t have to mean messy. Follow these tips to get started, but don’t be afraid to bend the rules! Make your space as unique as your awesome mismatched pieces by trying out interesting design combinations.


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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.