Eclectic: a style derived from a broad range of sources.

As your house becomes your home, the objects and furniture in your rooms are likely to have been collected over time from a variety of sources- inherited, picked up on your travels, bargains spotted out of the corner of your eye at a flea market, and that treasured statement piece you bought when you really couldn’t afford it.It’s likely that you love every object in your home, but it is also unlikely that they will all hang together in one space harmoniously. As objects, furniture and knick knacks are collected through the years from such a vast variety of places, the only connection is likely to be a love of the individual object that drove you to the purchase.

This is one of the key challenges faced by interior designers who need to retain the use of such pieces when creating a space (try sticking a beautiful antique chair next to a lava lamp!). Home owners often find that they have a collection of things they love, but which vary dramatically in style and age, and just don’t fit together. This is where the Eclectic style can be used.

Balance

One of the best ways to begin assembling your collection of mismatched items is to think about ‘balance’. The simplest form of balance is symmetry. Pairs of objects which match are the most obvious examples- a pair of bedside tables and matching lamps for instance.

However, balance can be achieved by looking at symmetry in a different way. Symmetry can be derived from objects with a similar visual weight. What is ‘visual weight’? It can derive from matching qualities of the object, rather than the objects being exactly the same.  This can be the colour, texture, height, size or the era of your objects. For example, if your bedside tables don’t match, it’s not a disaster. You can still maintain balance and symmetry by choosing tables of a similar height and wood, but varied in style, width or era.

In order to focus the mind on your beloved objects, it is a good idea to keep a more neutral background. One interesting way to do this is to use a surface texture, such as wall panelling to create interest on your wall instead of just painting it a solid colour. The use of texture can also unify the style of your space and enhance the period of your furniture or objects, for instance Victorian or Jacobean panelling can give a scheme much needed cohesion when mixing period objects. Styles which work well across a variety of periods are the tongue and groove and shaker patterns. Both are simple and timeless, offering a neutral but beautiful background to an eclectic decorating style.

Try it out and experiment with balance in your home (it may be time to chuck the lava lamp mind you!)