Eclectic Interior Design: The 21st Century Approach To Style

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eclectic living room

Source: via Agnes Keskula Pinterest

Maybe it’s too early to tell  how the early 21st century will be remembered in terms of style and design. But, one thing seems to be a constant – we’re unafraid to borrow from other eras that we’re looking back on.

Further to that, we’re unafraid of the stylistic mash-up of those various styles and eras, sometimes from one room to another, or sometimes side by side in a single space. Becayse, as we’ve realized, we’ve got different sides to our personalities. Why not have a living space that expresses them?

To expand a bit on this idea, writer Patrick  O’Houlihan is here to talk about how past, present, and future when design is concerned, can be pretty intertwined  …


Gone are the days of trying to make your home conform to a single design aesthetic. Who wants to only be “modern,” “Victorian,” “funky,” or “classic contemporary” when you can have elements of all four to reflect your personality? More and more people crave this individualized look, and designers are starting to take notice by finding ways to blend disparate styles in ways that tie everything together and look great.

In fact, there’s even a term for it now: eclectic home design. It’s for people who like bits and pieces of a bunch of different styles and can’t decide on just one, and seems fitting for our increasingly heterogeneous world.

Not only that, but this style also helps with those looking for an affordable home décor solution because it doesn’t mean you have to get all new stuff for a great look. Below, you can find tips on how to make your eclectic design show off the many sides of your personality while still looking good and feeling tied together into a seamless whole.

Be complementary

One of the most important keys to mixing and matching styles in an individual room is choosing one as the dominant style. This may seem to go against what we just said about being eclectic, but don’t write us off that quickly. You can still mix styles, but you want to have, for example, a contemporary room design with a few Victorian accents and accessories that complement the overall look.

Opposites (may) attract

An often successful technique is to put two disparate styles next to each other, such as an antique coffee table with a sleek Ikea chair, or vintage bookcases paired with modern light fixtures. When done well, putting opposites together will enhance both objects.

Mo’ styles, motif

A great way to tie several different styles together is to find a single motif that is present throughout the room. How so? Well, let’s say you love sunflowers. You’ve got sunflower-print couches from the ‘50s, a beautiful pair of shabby chic bookcases with sunflower carvings, and a very modern coffee table. Add that sunflower tablecloth you’ve been holding onto forever and suddenly you’ve got your very own sunflower room. If you want, you can even add wallpaper, artwork, or other accents with sunflowers, too.

It’s elementary

While it is less obvious than pairing items that share a motif, finding furniture and accents from multiple design styles that have similar elements can tie rooms together just as nicely. By elements we’re talking about things like sharp angles, pristine lines, or shared patterns. Even if they are from completely different time periods, items that share elements often feel like they belong together.

Color me aesthetically pleased

Not surprisingly, color is another fantastic way to pull a room together, even if you’re mixing and matching a bunch of different design eras. This doesn’t mean that every single thing should be red – how intimidating would that be? – but if multiple items each have red, brown, and orange, you’ve got the makings of a room bathed in eternal sunset.

As you can see, there are many ways to tie a room together, and many ways to use all of those different styles that reflect who you are. Now you can show the world your many facets without them warring against each other.


Thanks, Patrick!

Patrick O’Houlihan is a designer who blogs for Moshells – a home design shop that offers discount curtains and window treatments, among many other things.



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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.