How to Coordinate Mismatched Nursery Furniture

5 Rules for Mixing and Matching Vintage Nursery Furniture

Mismatched furniture coordinated using color in a sweet Shabby Chic nursery
Soft pastels tie this collection of mismatched furniture together perfectly. Photo by Kerry B. Smith Photography via Stencil & Stories.

Whether you’re working with a tight nursery budget or simply love that cozy, pieced-together look, mismatched furniture may be in your design future. So what’s the secret to getting that eclectic, “no-rules” look right? Well… rules actually. Need a few pointers? Put these five simple guidelines for coordinating mismatched furniture to work, and you’ll be mixing and matching like a pro in no time!

1. Create a Cohesive Look:

Unless you want your nursery to look like the sales floor at your local Goodwill, you need to find a way to mold those individual, one-of-a-kind pieces into one big, cohesive family.

When coordinating your collection, the key is to clearly identify at least one unifying theme.

Color is a great unifier, allowing you to turn a rag-tag assembly into a matching set with just a quick coat of paint. You can even buy and install matching hardware to give your newly matched furnishings a polished look. 

Maintaining a single style or theme is another way to give a space a cohesive feel. Try choosing something easily identifiable, like retro mid-century decor or a rich Moroccan theme. By pumping up the drama, you'll make it much easier for people to see a trend.

Finally, try employing common textures, such as wood or metal, and choose pieces of a similar size and shape, especially when choosing end tables or anything that typically requires a sense of symmetry. The goal is to establish some common ground. As long as you can find some way to tie it all together, you should be able to make it work.

 

2. Embrace Contrast:

As a rule, dramatically different is better than not quite the same. There's nothing worse than when something is just slightly off. If you can’t find pieces that match, you're better off opting for something completely different and finding another way to pull the look together.

Have an old, wooden dresser that doesn’t really go with your new crib? Instead of feigning a match, try painting the dresser in a bold accent color pulled directly from your crib bedding. The contrast will create eye-catching drama while the common color palette ensures a well-coordinated result.

3. Don't Clutter Your Space:

There’s a fine line between “eclectic” and cluttered. You want your little one’s nursery to feel cozy and lived-in, not closed-in and claustrophobic, so don’t go nuts with the flea market finds.

Instead of filling the room up with unneeded furniture, opt for just a few, really interesting pieces that blend well. Remember: being eclectic is not about how much random stuff you have; it’s about how well you can tie that seemingly random stuff together.

4. Take an Understated Approach:

Sometimes mix-and-match furniture is more a reflection of your bank account than your personal taste. If the eclectic look is not really your thing, try playing down the differences by choosing simple, understated furnishings with clean lines and light finishes. These pieces should essentially disappear, allowing you to redirect focus to a larger statement pieces, like the bed or crib. 

5. Create Balance with Accessories

Buying a matching furniture set is an easy way to establish a natural sense of balance in your space, but it's not the only way to go.

A few well-chosen and carefully-placed accessories can also create a visual balance.

Try decorating mismatched end tables with a pair of matching lamps. The symmetry in the lamps will naturally draw the eye, and the tables will fade into the background. You can also try putting tall accessories on a low table and short accessories on a higher one to give them equal space representation. Your brain will process the shape of the decorated table on whole, and as long as the shapes match, the eyes will read the display as symmetrical. 

Wondering how to get the most out of your accessories? Check out these pro-tips. For more pro-decorating secrets, read these 11 Tips for Designing Magazine-Quality Kids’ Rooms.