As a proud partner of many artisan groups around the world, we are by nature champions of eclectic decoration. But what is “eclectic”, exactly? We like the definition given by Apartment Therapy:
“Eclectic is ... a decor that comprises heterogeneous elements — a mixture of textures, time periods, styles, trends, and colors”.
A multitude of fabrics, patterns, and artifacts from various origins can find home in an eclectic space, which embraces many moods and whims while offering fertile ground for one’s taste to evolve.
“There is a fine line, however,” the author Catrin Morris at Apartment Therapy continues, “between a beautifully eclectic room and a room that is merely haphazard and chaotic, with no unifying themes or motifs.”
And that’s where most of us stop to hesitate about venturing into eclectic decoration. Will these two things go together and compliment each other? How can we put everything together without having them look cluttered or out of place?
We found the answers from our customers.
First, and most importantly, decide on a color scheme.
After viewing over 20 places in the Los Angeles area, Brady Tolbert found his rental apartment with original hardwood flooring and beamed ceilings. “It was love at first sight.” He wrote in the blog. “I wanted the space to be a place I really wanted to live in. I wanted it to be casual, comfy, refined, masculine, and also an eclectic collection of what I already had been hoarding through my previous moves, mixed with some new pieces.”
And there it is.
The black, grey, cream and white pulled everything in the living room into a cohesive whole, with pops of brass accent to play contrast and spice up the place. In this shot, one can find throw pillows with traditional handwoven patterns from India (shop here), a velvet English roll arm sofa, a Moroccan style rug, a rattan ottoman that brings Southeast Asian flair, modern abstract paintings, mid-century lighting, an Ancient Greek bust, and even a side table from Muji, all sitting under the Spanish Revival style ceiling with exposed beams. An eclectic dream come true.
The chorus of creams from the pillows, ivory ceramic links, and rug all echo each other.
Brady later switched out the grey English roll arm for a cream slipcover, which brightened up the living room even more. Cream is the new white, in our humble opinion. It is just as minimal and airy, but with more depth, warmth, variation, and comfort. We like it so much that we put together a blog post on this color trend.
Second, mix and match!
Linnea and Peter Dunham moved their design studio from a beautiful loft space off Randolph Street in Chicago to the deep forest of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, settling in a square hewn-log cabin built in the late 1800’s situating on an old dairy farm. The property is surrounded by 200 acres of forest, with a beautiful spring-fed creek running throughout.
“Moving into the house took a little getting used to as we went from all white walls in Chicago, to all wood everything in this new space”, says Linnea. “Our design approach for this house has been to focus on restoring the original architecture as much as possible, and keeping a relaxed, open minimalism to the inside … Because the windows take up much of the wall space in the house, there is really no place for art on the walls – the art is basically the stunning forest outside. Inside the house we wanted to mimic this calm, comforting, yet stimulating beauty of nature and we knew that textiles would be the ‘art’ that could do this.”
What a marvelous display of our finest textiles! The Dunhams layered two types of handwoven cotton from India - the Khadi from Jaipur and the more substantial Lotha Naga cotton with distinct geometric patterns. They also mixed two vintage fabrics in the cluster - the Nankeen Indigo cotton from China and Hmong batik hemp from Thailand, which resonate with the age of the house while playing contrast to the new textiles.
And the mix-and-match goes beyond textures. Thoughtfully placed beside the day beds, the block side table and the Flo floor lamp bring in modern clean lines that lead to a perfect balance in the organic earthy space, preventing it from being overly rustic or heavy. The outcome is a living room in the woods that’s pleasantly elevated yet homey.
Third, create focal points.
Being eclectic certainly doesn’t mean throwing everything together. To give your collections a more curated look, create focal points by using shapes, colors, sizes, or quantities.
In this 2-bedroom Brooklyn home, the owners wanted to communicate elegance and sophistication while still encouraging comfort. Design firm White Arrow used “an array of internationally renown vintage furniture and lighting” - bespoke furnitures of their own design and a mix of cutting edge items sourced from independent designers.
With strategic arrangement of each item, the mixture of all these elements did not make our eyes loose focus. The secret? Statement pieces that create focal points. The Arc Light chandelier by Anna Karlin, for instance, is not only a piece of utilitarian art; it also serves as a visual frame for the painting, the leather couch, and the collection of artisan-made pillows on it. (Our tasseled wool pillow is sold out, but click here for similar items from Central and South America)
Likewise, the Pick Up Sticks chandelier from Billy Cotton makes a striking statement in the dining room, while guiding ours eyes to fall upon the marble dining table then everything else in the surrounding. In the guest room, the non-traditional, blue Shaker-inspired Murphy bed with brass hinges is the focus of the room, from both an aesthetic perspective and a functional one.
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful,
or believe to be beautiful.”
- William Morris
Needless to say, this design motto works for every interior design style. However, it fits perfectly here as the final tip for eclectic decoration. Sometimes less is more, other times more is more. It all boils down to what YOU need, how YOU live, and what brings pleasure to YOUR eyes. Have fun decorating!
- Linnea and Peter Dunham are the founders of design studio UUSI, which means “new” in Finnish. Follow @uusidesignstudio on Instagram for their ingenious work and the breath-taking scenery in Michigan.
- The White Arrow is an interior design studio founded by the husband-wife team, Keren and Thomas Richter.