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What is Eclectic Style in Interior Decorating?

Updated on August 29, 2014

If you had to describe your home to someone in terms of interior design style, what would you say? Colonial? Contemporary? Mid-century Modern? Baroque? French Country?

Or would you smile sheepishly and say, “Oh, we’re kind of eclectic”?

Does eclectic mean your interior is a collection of furnishings from thrift shops and dumpster dives? Does your family room resemble Aunt Edna’s living room from 1967?

Are you using piles of books for end tables? Is your wall art from Wal-Mart? Is your DVD collection piled up in brightly colored plastic bins found at the Dollar Store?

Do you have furniture in your home that is older than you are?

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If you answered yes to any of these questions, or at least answered, “Well no, but close,” then you are the Hectic Eclectic.

Don’t despair, because what you have may be a hodge podge that would make an HGTV host cringe, but you can turn it into an appealing design scheme both whimsical and unique.

Technically, eclectic is a style that borrows from two past styles; these styles separated by an intervening era. But it has taken on new meaning in the 21st century and now includes the blending of personal collections with the kitschy, the quirky, the unconventional.

You can turn your faux eclectic into the real thing in a few easy steps.

Get rid of anything broken or that has no redeeming qualities
That chair that smells like wet dog that everyone just throws their books and bags on needs to go. Wobbly tables, threadbare area rugs, and broken clocks are the things that take away the potential for a stylish interior.

Take stock of your furnishings, accessories and budget
Assess each piece of major furniture and decide if it should be repainted, reupholstered, repaired or left as is. Take a look at your secondary pieces and give them the same assessment. Gather together all your accessories and group them by category: vases, bowls, wall art, etc. Dispose of anything you don’t like.

Assess all these furnishings and look for common characteristics
Do you favor the color green? Do you prefer stripes to plaids? Are the accessories you like the best curvy and intricately decorated or sleek and modern? You’re likely to have an “aha” moment here. It’s the decorator in you breaking free.

Fix up the furnishings
If you need to upholster or paint any furnishings, now is the time. Think about color and pattern to create unity in your furnishings. That dull blue table may look much better now that you’ve painted it forest green, the same forest green that’s in those gorgeous drapes, the drapes no one noticed because you had a bright yellow couch in front of them. Tone that couch down with forest green throw pillows and an earthy brown blanket. Place it across the room if possible.

Use only those things that fit into the color scheme, share the same textures, and match in scale
Keep to two or three colors, all in the same color family. This will create flow and unity. The texture is both seen and felt. If you like the sleek and modern, choose pillows with clean lines and slick fabrics. Prefer something more woodsy or country? Choose woolen throws and landscape art. Keep your scale in check. Don’t place the itty-bitty end table next to the big easy chair. Go ahead and pile up the books instead.

Once you get the basics in place, using your color scheme, your textural eye and cohesive scaling, you can add the little touches to your design. Go ahead and use those bright plastic bins for your DVDs. But instead of piling them in like it’s a garage sale, use equally brightly colored square plastic plates as dividers to organize them.

Your hectic eclectic mayhem is really just a design scheme in disguise. Take a little time and assess what you have. That wall art from Wal-Mart will look so much better when it’s placed with that funny little chair and itty-bitty end table in a little corner vignette.


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    • SallyTX profile image

      Sally Branche 6 years ago from Only In Texas!

      Great tips on making the best of what you've got! Voted up and useful! :)

    • C.S.Alexis profile image

      C.S.Alexis 8 years ago from NW Indiana

      This is a great hub and sure to give hope to meant who feel left behind in the fashion world. I love this! Thumbs up.