Lots of people proclaim their decorating style to be “eclectic,” but if the term is being used to describe a haphazard room with a jumble of mismatched pieces and no clear underlying common thread, then it’s not really eclectic style, it’s just a mess. While an eclectic decorating style does encompass a certain lack of rules and “anything goes” vibe, when it’s done right, it also maintains control by following general guidelines and most of all, using color, shape, texture or style to tie the whole look into a harmonious setting.
Mix Furniture Styles
What most defines the eclectic look is a blend of different styles that complement each other, instead of clashing. Love your Art Deco dresser and your rustic bed? Then you understand the heart of the eclectic style—it’s fine to fill your bedroom with pieces you love, even if they aren’t traditional matches.
Be aware: balance and scale are crucial in this style of decorating. Your furnishings might not come from the same decade—or even the same century—but they still need to be in the proper scale to the space and to each other.
Use Color as a Harmonizer
The number one key to creating an eclectic look that works is using color to harmonize the different elements of the room. Frequently, people who like eclectic style also like bright, bold color—in fact, many people consider “colorful” to be synonymous with “eclectic”—but though not typical, you could actually have an eclectic bedroom in an entirely neutral color scheme.
Skillful use of color is the easiest way to blend diverse decorating styles. If you love brights, keep the walls and flooring neutral to avoid sensory overload—a no-no in the bedroom. Mix and match your palette to your heart’s content, but spread your primary colors throughout the room. For example, the bedroom shown here uses hot pink on the bed and in each piece of artwork, while the bench, light fixture, and artwork show off golden yellow.
The best eclectic rooms have a common thread or two that further connects the various styles of furniture. Color is the most effective way to achieve that, but you can also use a certain motif, a shape, a texture, or a fabric to harmonize the space. For example, the room shown here uses shape as a common thread. Notice all of the round or curved décor: decorative plates, a round stool tucked under the bedside table, the rounded shape of the flowers on the bedspread, the curves of the shoes in the artwork over the bed and even the curved lines of the ceramic puppies and owls scattered throughout the room.
Include Mixed Patterns
An eclectic bedroom has plenty of pattern. The key to success when mixing designs is to match at least one color throughout, and choose patterns that play well together. Generally, you’ll find that geometric shapes, stripes or dots work very well with nature motifs such as animal prints, florals, fern or leaf patterns, and bird or animal designs.
There are no hard-and-fast rules here—choose patterns you like and make sure there are a variety of scales. If you get crazy with color and pattern, keep the walls white or stick with solids on the bed and window treatments.
Repurpose or Recycle
An element that is very common in eclectic bedrooms, although not a definer of the style, is the use of repurposed or recycled materials. That can mean anything from furniture made from reclaimed wood, like the lovely headboard shown here from Red in Fred, to creatively repurposing a stack of suitcases into a nightstand or an old ladder into a headboard. The weathered, well-loved appearance common to many repurposed materials complements many other finishes, making these items perfect in the eclectic bedroom.
Show Off Your Personality
An eclectic room showcases the individuality of its owner, so take the opportunity to get personal. Whimsical touches, unique accents or treasured pieces collected throughout your travels are all perfect ways to reveal the real you. Don’t worry if they don’t “match”—that’s the beauty of eclecticism.
Use Plenty of Texture
While every room needs a variety of textures to add interest and depth, an eclectic bedroom plays with texture to increase the whimsical, unique vibe of the space. Mix and match a wide range of textures, as done skillfully in the room featured here: shaggy throw pillows, mirrored surfaces, various fabrics, smooth wood, and matte walls.
Other ways to add texture include carpet or area rugs, distressed wood, metal trim on furniture, heavy fabrics like velvet or denim, nubby knit fabrics, sheer curtains, and painted or collaged artwork.