You can have two kinds of random stuff in your home:
- Things that sit unused and need to be purged, which is not the kind of stuff I’m talking about.
- Today by random stuff, I mean objects that you use and want to keep. But they just don’t quite fit in with the rest of your decor. They seem like they’ve been randomly added to your home.
Usually these are objects that you’ve collected over time. Maybe an heirloom that is sentimentally important but isn’t your usual style, or maybe something that you have for its utility but that looks out of place in your home.
Personally, I think that every home should have some “random stuff” in the mix; it’s what makes our homes unique. Those personal objects and the stories behind them are what make it all interesting (especially when they’re a little odd).
When you get it right, an eclectically decorated space can be a great way to let those special objects shine. Your home can incorporate your own mix of styles and become like your own personal museum, memory trunk and custom space in one.
Ultimately I believe that if you focus on adding things that you love to your home. In the end all those “random” things will make sense together, because they’re all related to you and what you’re interested in. That concept is one of my main tenets for loving your home.
Admittedly though sometimes when you put those objects that you love together in a room, they need some tweaking to look their best.
It can be tricky to ride the line between an appealing, quirky space without looking chaotic (I’m betting that you don’t want your living room to look like flea market stand.)
Here are some tips that can help you incorporate those tricky personal items with the rest of your home’s decor – giving you a space that looks intentional and balanced with an eclectic decorating style.
Use an eclectic decorating style to make your random stuff work together.
Go for a monochromatic color scheme.
Try to carry the same color (or similar tones of the same color) throughout the room. Use the color of the object that you’re trying to incorporate, and just keep repeating that color as much as possible – on the walls, rugs, furniture, whatever you have to work with. (Read more monochromatic color schemes tips here.)
With this strategy, the color unifies items that normally wouldn’t seem to go together. And the objects’ differences in sizes or styles, will actually help make the monochrome scheme more complex and interesting.
Use accent colors strategically.
Similar to the monochromatic strategy, but using accent colors (color in smaller doses) will make the space seem more cohesive. An accent color splashed around the whole room will help the space look balanced and those random objects will look like they were purposely chosen for the space.
For example, imagine you want to bring a bright pink lamp into an all white room. Alone the lamp would stand out, but if you add some throw pillows and art with the same tone of pink around the room, the lamp then seems like it was part of the plan.
This is an especially helpful technique if you feel that you have too many collected or second-hand pieces. To avoid a space that looks old and worn, try updating it by adding more modern and crisp pieces. This will help balance the soft worn textures of the older pieces.
Think about the texture and feel of each piece you have. Then think of how you can balance that texture with an opposite texture. It could be a slick mirrored tray on a rough wooden table or a crisp silk pillow on a worn upholstered chair. Consider furniture groupings and vignettes separately and balance the textures within each group.
Similar to balancing textures, it also helps to balance the design styles throughout the room. Take a mental inventory of the decor style of your room to see you’re working with. How many pieces seem modern, how many seem traditional?
For example, if have an ornately framed classical style mirror that you’re struggling to incorporate into a room that is otherwise modernly styled, try adding more classical elements to the room. Some traditionally styled candle holders, or art in a baroque style frame will help to balance the mirror.
Make what you love the focal point.
This is a good tip if the piece you’re bringing in is something that you’re crazy about and it’s substantial enough to be the focal point of the room. To do this, you’ll want to make everything else in the room either more neutral in comparison to your focal point, or make the other elements point your attention to the focal point in some way.
This can be done by making the colors of the supporting objects more subdued than the focal object, or you could arrange seating arrangements or traffic patterns so that they direct you to your focal object.
Adjust positioning and proportions.
Don’t forget that rooms are interactive spaces; you move through them and use their features. Play around with the furniture arrangement, with how accessories and other details are positioned. Small changes in positioning can affect the way we see a space, they can influence how we use a room, what we notice and how the objects play off each other.
There are no rules for this one, just don’t be afraid to get in there and experiment. After you’ve made a change, step back and try to see the room from a new perspective. Pay attention to what catches your eye and what you notice first. With the new arrangement do certain things seem to stand out more than others? Do you like it more that way? Keep going through this exercise until you find what you like best.
Don’t forget about other spots in your home. If you’ve got some objects that that you’re having a hard time incorporating, they might work better in a different room. Think about re-purposing tables as desks, nightstands as side tables, vases as lamps, etc. Sometimes we get so used to seeing a piece in a certain environment that we forget it can have other uses.
Group similar items.
If you have something like an old oil painting that seem out of place, why not add one or two more similar paintings and make a collection out of it? By making a small grouping out of it, it look more intentional in your space.
You could find a reproduction or thrift store oil paintings of a similar style of painting to begin your mini collection. The same strategy works for vases, lamps, almost anything really.
Use visualization cheats.
It can be hard for some people to imagine how a space will look before the changes are actually made. If you can’t picture changing decor in your space, get out some props. Get creative.
A white sheet draped over your couch can give you an idea of how a lighter sofa would look in your room. Folded brightly colored shirts or towels mock throw pillows and a cardboard box can stand in for a side table. Have some fun with it and try out color combinations that may be more daring than you’d normally go for…it doesn’t hurt to try!
If you feel like the mocked up changes help your room come together, then you can more confidently move towards substantial changes.