Once upon a time, there was a rule in the realm of interior design: once you had chosen a style in which to decorate your home, you had to stick to it. So, a modern home would have sleek simplicity throughout, while a French country abode would be frilly and colourful from top to bottom. It was easy to stick to, and it helped maintain flow and continuity from room to room to room.
However, today’s designers see things differently. Rather than sticking to a single style, they flawlessly incorporate elements from multiple styles into a single space. The final result is just as interesting to look at as it is cohesive. Even better, you can decorate your home to create the same result, without fear of creating a messy or mismatched design scheme. Here’s how to do it like the pros:
Strike the Perfect Balance
In order to create a seamless blend of different styles, you have to make sure that it’s clear what you’re mixing. In other words, you shouldn’t buy a super modern sofa to pair with a rustic-style coffee table and a glam, glimmering area rug.
Instead, most style mixers suggest you choose two design styles and, from there, decide which one will be the dominant one and which will be the supporting style. In most cases, you’ll want to strike an 80/20 balance between your main style and contrasting style. So, if you bring together contemporary and country, mostly everything will have sleek, clean lines, but you’ll also have pops of bright, warm colour and florals, for example.
Don’t Do Matchy-Matchy
Back in the day, matching furniture meant that it literally matched. The same pattern would bedeck the comforter of the bed, the shams, the curtains and the valance. You might have even had a fabric runner to protect your wood furniture that sported the same pattern, too. Nowadays, that look would be considered overkill. Today, it’s all about matching without matching, if you will.
In order to create a coordinating look that’s not completely matchy-matchy, look for colours or themes that draw your different styles together. For example, you can decorate your dresser with a bunch of different baubles and picture frames so long as they’re in a similar hue. Or, you can pair fabric patterns together that are different, but made up of the same colour family. This is an especially interesting look when you have a neutral-hued couch as a backdrop.
To that end, you can use neutrals to your advantage: sturdy and hand finished wood furniture, for example, it can bring just the right amount of rustic into a space and still match the rest of your decor, thanks to its natural, neutral hue. There will be no need to make sure your coffee table, end tables and buffet are a perfect stain and style match, either: so long as they coordinate without being clones, they’ll be a design statement and one that matches, at that.
Use the Differences as the Focal Point
As you begin to piece your room together, you’ll go through all of the design basics: you’ll likely start with a neutral backdrop before putting all of your furniture where it belongs. Then, you’ll probably place your accessories, pillows, rugs and fabrics for splashes of colour and style. Finally, you’ll wonder just what to do with the few pieces that come from your complimentary style: the room may even appear finished, but you still want to include your more surprising elements in the mix.
In that case, let your off-the-wall design choice become the focal point of the room. This won’t work if your coordinating-but-different items are small accessories or less-important pieces of furniture. They have to be eye-catching: an overhead light fixture, oversized piece of art or gorgeous hand-threaded rug are perfect examples. If they’re a different style from the rest of the room — while still coordinating with the colours of everything else, of course — then you have a ready-made, ready-to-go focal point.
Follow Your Instinct
When it comes to interior design, you may not feel as though you have what it takes to make a decision: you’re not a trained professional, after all. But, you do know what looks inherently good to you. You can tell when your room feels balanced, when it feels overdone or when it’s missing something. You can tweak and move things around until you find a look that suits you. And, you can use your instincts to guide you toward the perfectly balanced room you envision.
The best part of interior design is that, ultimately, the beauty is in the eye of the property holder. So, look at your design with a critical eye, but make sure it’s your own taste that’s helping you decide what’s great or what’s not working. In the end, you’re the one that’ll live in the spaces you create: if the balance of styles works for you, then it works, period.