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A dear friend of mine has a home that would be perfect on the cover of a sophisticated magazine. Everything has its place, the furniture is sleek yet comfortable and most of all, everything matches. The colors complement each other. The pieces of furniture have just the right spacing and sizing. Even the stain on the hardwood floors was carefully chosen to highlight the stone of the fireplace. It’s a gorgeous home.

But even she will be the first to admit that sometimes, something just feels…wrong. All that beautiful decor that seems to push her away instead of pull her in. Sometimes the idea of mismatched decor makes her want to change up the whole look and go with something a bit less sophisticated.

Mismatched Decor for a Personal Style

Who says that the decor of your home has to perfectly match? Part of the fun of decorating a house is choosing your own personal style, one that blends the things you love with the things that make your home comfortable. So put away that sleek furniture magazine and stop worrying about what the neighbors might think. Creating a home with mismatched decor is not only a great way to make your house look like a home, it’s also an excellent way to get comfortable in your own place.

Not sure where to start? Here are a few ways to make mismatched decor work for you.

Start with the Table

Most of the living in a home happens around the kitchen table. Start there by creating something that is both comfortable and handsome. Rather than choose a nice set that matches, go with a wide table that plays host to several chairs of different styles and colors. A wide ladderback chair might serve well next to a leather-covered style, and they could both look great next to a weathered bench. By creating a homey feel at the table, you prepare those who gather there to truly relax and enjoy the space.

Move to the Living Room

In some homes, the living room is the first thing guests see when they come through the front door, and so great care is taken to ensure that particular room is full of the best furniture and the most complementary colors. Turn that idea on its head with mismatched decor that makes the room look more interesting than ever. If you have shiny hardwood floors, top them with a rag rug that has seen better days. Match a fine leather couch with a bright red fabric loveseat. Throw quilts of mismatched colors on the backs, and replace that lovely coffee table with a vintage storage trunk. You will definitely spur conversations!

Look to the Walls

One of the easiest places to employ mismatched decor is on the walls. If you enjoy pictures of family and friends on your walls, shake things up by choosing widely varied frames and sizes for each, then hang them on the walls in one particular section. It’s an eye-catching way to preserve those precious memories! Another option is to look for artwork that screams out something other than what your other decor is saying; for instance, a traditional living room might look fantastic with a Picasso-style painting to change the point of view.

Remember Your Bedroom

The bedroom might not be a place your guests see, but it is a place you spend a great deal of time — so give it the appropriate treatment for the homey feel. Mismatched decor might include sheets and pillows in a solid color, topped by a quilt with a wild design. Impart even more comfort with a chair or couch in the bedroom, one that is designed more for comfort than style. Top it all off with lighting that suits the whimsical you, such as a lampshade in a bright color and a soothing blue light underneath it.

Mismatched decor isn’t just for dorm rooms and those who are living on a shoestring in their first college apartment. It can be all about a style choice designed to make your home the beautiful, comfortable place you love to come home to every day. So mix it up and settle into the homey style.

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Shannon Dauphin Lee

Shannon Dauphin Lee is a journalist and occasional novelist with a serious weakness for real estate. When she's not writing, she and her husband are taking road trips to explore covered bridges, little wineries and quaint bed-and-breakfast inns in their beloved Pennsylvania.