How to Decorate in Eclectic Style

living room with lots of bold colors and objects


Andreas von Einsiedel / Getty Images

Do you like a wide variety of styles in your home? Maybe you can't decide whether your favorite decor is farmhouse rustic or mid-century modern. Or you can't stand things that are too "matchy-matchy." Do you like to think outside of the box when it comes to home decor—maybe even think up new uses for traditional items? Perhaps you enjoy incorporating knick-knacks from your travels into your home to remind you of your favorite getaways. If so, you actually have a taste—it is called eclectic style.

What Is Eclectic Style?

Unlike some styles, which adhere to a strict set of rules and trends, eclectic style is more free. It's characterized by variety and unpredictability. Eclecticism involves incorporating pieces from different periods and styles.


Though the word “eclectic” has been around for a long time, it has only recently become known as a decorating style. Eclectic style decorating got its start via the fine arts and architecture when pioneers prided themselves on the fact that they didn’t adhere to any particular style, then set about doing their own thing.

However, their work was so successful that their plan appears to have backfired, and these pioneers actually birthed what became known as the eclectic style of decorating.

Eclectic Style is a Funky Mix

A person who likes an eclectic style will not adhere to one decorating style but instead chooses what they feel is the “best” of a few particular decorating styles. Then they incorporate those elements into their home. Many people who like eclectic decor may be eclectic themselves, not fitting into any one stereotype or group. These people like what they like, decor-wise, and they aren't afraid to put it all out there—even if it goes against more popular styles of decorating, such as contemporary or farmhouse.

Because of this premise many mistake the eclectic style as an anything-can-go way of decorating, but the true eclectic style is a very purposeful and well-thought-out way of decorating.

Think of eclectic style as a borrowing of various styles while creating a cohesive look through color, texture and/or shape. A good definition of eclectic style decorating is “a careful gathering of interesting elements that all work together.” Really, it's not just throwing things together, though the look may feature things that may not go together. The eclectic decorator knows exactly how to smooth out the bumps with oddball textures and furnishings, so it looks awesome...kind of like a Pier One Imports store.

Common Characteristics

  • A calm mix of periods and styles
  • Neutral background colors
  • Unexpected use of materials and/or items
  • Uniqueness in art and furnishings
  • A “pulling together” through pattern, shape, texture, finish or color
  • Everything has its place, but it may look cluttered
  • Old easily mixed in with new
  • Handmade items or items with sentimental value
  • Celebration of contrasts