Friday, June 30, 2017

Eclectic Style? or Hot Mess?

There are many styles that designers use when creating living spaces for their clients and that we use in our own homes.  We're all familiar with Traditional, Contemporary, Industrial, French Country, Mid-Century Modern, etc.  They each have identifiable features and are fairly easy to classify.  So, does that mean that any room which doesn't neatly fit into a specific style is eclectic?  Definitely not!

Let's take a looks at what the term "eclectic" actually means...

Definition of eclectic.  1:  selecting what appears to be best in various doctrines, methods, or styles.  2:  composed of elements drawn from various sources; also: heterogeneous. (source: Merriam-Webster)

Eclecticism is a nineteenth and twentieth-century architectural style in which a single piece of work incorporates a mixture of elements from previous historical styles to create something that is new and original.  In architecture and interior design, these elements may include structural features, furniture, decorative motifs, distinct historical ornament, traditional cultural motifs or styles from other countries, with the mixture usually chosen based on its suitability to the project and overall aesthetic value. (source: Wikipedia)

An eclectic interior, then, is not a "catch-all" but rather a carefully curated collection of elements from various styles.  Established design principles such as balance, proportion, and scale still apply if we want to create a successful eclectic interior space. Take the following image, for example.


Several styles are incorporated here, including contemporary clean lines in the credenza, chaise longue, and side table; traditional elements of the tufted ottoman and rug; and a decidedly modern gold slat chair.  This room works so well because the designer kept a uniform "feel" with the use of subtle color, simple shapes and lines, and proper furniture scale.  The artwork, in a combination of framed portraiture and modern abstracts, adds visual interest without being confined to one style.


This gorgeous black and white space employs abstract art and a modern lucite chair to balance the visual weight and ornate carving of the desk. Minimal accessorizing with plants, simple vases, and draperies that blend into the walls keeps our eyes focused on the beauty and personality of the furnishings. Neutral colors help to eliminate busyness and serve to meld different design styles together; and a traditional oriental rug gives warmth to the scheme.  The room is purposely kept open and airy to balance its generous use of black decor.


This next room is just full of eclectic goodness, isn't it?  The furniture, lamps and chandelier lend an old-world charm, while bold pops of color keep things fresh and timely.  A black and white geometric rug grounds the furniture grouping and adds a playful quality to the room; while the crisp white mirror against a white wall brings in a contemporary twist.  Also, white-on-white trim mouldings provide interest without detracting from other furnishings.

How different would this space feel if the walls were dark, the rug was traditional, and the chairs were covered in tapestry?  


And, finally, traditional and Asian-inspired furnishings are punched up with a large piece of modern art and daring use of color.  The abstract painting adds a lot of interest, movement, and colorful energy.  Again, if we imagine a piece of landscape, portrait, or still-life art here, and wood-toned tables in place of the painted red ones, there would be a more predictable and conventional look to this space.  

One of the great benefits of using eclectic design is in achieving a one-of-a-kind result. For people who enjoy many interior design styles, this method of curating pieces from various time periods and regions is ideal.  As long as we remember to use a framework of good design principles, we can create unique, visually-stimulating spaces.  I, myself, have always leaned toward eclectic design, as I find it to be very adaptable, fluid, and exciting.  How do you feel about this design style?