How to Mix Styles When Decorating

Combine What You Like to Achieve a Look that You Love

Limiting the color palette and matching your woods can make several different styles work in one room. Photo © morgueFile

Maybe your spouse is traditional yet you love shabby chic. Or maybe you would like to figure out a way to use Grandmother’s antique armoire in your über contemporary living room. No matter the reason, mixing decorating styles is easier than one would think.

In truth, there are very few “pure” decorating styles. Most styles are a blend of several different eras and periods of styles. Design styles are usually birthed when designers (or even homemakers) take the best of certain periods or fashions and incorporate these elements into homes.

For example, what is currently considered the traditional style really grew out the early country styles, and most of the country styles today are considered traditional.

New decorating styles have also developed due to a mixing of styles. For example, the transitional style is simple a balanced blend of contemporary and traditionally styled furnishings and decor. Though the founders of the eclectic style liked to think of themselves as followers of none, today’s eclectic style can also be considered a mesh or blend of many different styles to create a look unique to a particular home dweller.

But how does one mix different periods and styles of furnishings and decor, to either create a new look, to follow a mixed-style look, or to simply make it all work in the space? Easy, when you know what to do.

Your goal is to create a space that the eyes and the mind view as a whole. Try these tips to mix styles effortlessly and create a room that appears cohesive and unified.

Choose a limited color palette

Too many colors can detract and make each piece in your room feel like it stands alone. One of my college professors constantly reminded us to “spread the wealth” when it came to color, meaning that one should repeat the same colors throughout the space to bring items (and the room) together.

Choose a unifying pattern

A shape or motif used throughout the space can bring a room together and keep decor from appearing scattered. Also, one could pick up on the lines of a sofa or favorite chair and repeat that curve or line throughout the space.

Choose the oddball to be the focal point

If you have an assorted decor collection or a piece of furniture that just doesn’t look like the rest of your stuff, don’t try to hide it. Draw attention to it by using it as the focal point of your space and building the rest of the room around it. This is a great way to turn something that normally wouldn’t fit or match into the “wow” factor.

Choose woods that match

It’s amazing how two totally contrasting periods of furniture will go well together when they are stained the same shade or made from the same wood. Keep your wood tones consistent to tie pieces together.

Choose a few stock furnishings

Blend several unique pieces with the ambiguity of big box store, or stock, furniture and decor. Consider solid colors or finishes with a clean, everyday look – something that won’t compete with your other furnishings or decor.​

Choose a theme

I'm not suggesting a room filled with duck decor or creating a china doll emporium, but choosing a certain theme or look such as coastal or mountain lodge can really bring a room's elements together.

This works especially well in a kid's room.​

Decorator’s Hint

Remember that decorating and design rules are never written in stone. What usually works in most spaces often becomes a decorating “rule” (or at least a strong suggestion), but that suggestion may not work in your space. Feel free to bend or even break the rules when creating and decorating your room. After all, your home belongs to you!