Some rooms just have that “collected-but-not-a-collection” look. The chair, the table, the bookshelf and the art were not purchased as a set — they might not even come from the same era, let alone store — and yet, somehow it all works. It’s like the French je ne sais quoi. You know that feeling when you feel it.
Your artsy, quirky, stylish-but-not-trendy friend probably has a space like this. (I aim for some of this myself!) That’s eclectic design.
According to designer Lindsay Boudreaux, the proprietor and creative director of Shotgun Double Interior Design, the dictionary definition fits the bill: “Deriving ideas, style or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources.”
What Is Eclectic Interior Design
“When applied to residential interiors, it simply means to decorate with no preconceived design style in mind,” Boudreaux says. “It’s traditional and modern, and artsy, and collected, and colorful, and honestly, any mishmash of the above and more that you can conceive of.”
Boudreaux confirms there’s a trend toward this style. In some circles it’s called quiet luxury, bookshelf wealth or vintage modern.
What Are the Key Elements of Eclectic Interior Design?
Ariana Lovato, owner and interior designer at Honeycomb Home Design, says eclectic design embraces diversity and individuality. Because of that, there’s no rulebook for how to make it come together.
“It’s so subject to your own style and inspiration,” she says. “It’s a flexible and creative approach that allows you to express your personal taste and showcase a mix of influences within your home.”
Arsight founder and interior designer Artem Kropovinsky calls “a combination of opposites” the hallmark elements of eclectic interior design.
“It isn’t only about matching the components but developing a continuous story,” he says. “The combination of a minimalist Scandinavian sofa and a Baroque mirror is striking, but looks seamless together.”
Mixing color and pattern
“Another important feature is the daring manner in which color and pattern are used,” Kropovinsky says. “Picture a loft apartment in Manhattan: The brightly colored African rug contrasts well with subdued, earth-toned furniture.”
Fuse texture and material
“In a single space, combining glass and metal with wood or fabric makes it deeper as well as more interesting,” Kropovinsky says. “Consider a vintage Brooklyn brownstone, an ideal blend of Victorian nostalgia and contemporary art.”
Eclectic Interior Design for Your Home
Freedom is the best thing about eclectic interior design. If you’re a free spirit who eschews the rules, you’ll be happy on this playground.
“Think using a vintage or antique Persian rug with a contemporary sofa frame, a midcentury modern teak bookshelf, and an Andy Warhol framed print,” Boudreaux says. “It’s a style with a collected-over-time vibe, similar to maximalism, but without going overboard on collections and ‘stuff.’
“You can have a ‘minimal eclectic style’ which is still a clean, sparsely decorated interior with a collection of functional pieces that you love, but that are of different styles. As long as the materials are harmonious, it really can create a space that feels comfortable and lived-in.”
Here’s how to make eclectic style work in your home:
“Art is the easiest way to bring in eclectic interior design and not make such a big commitment,” Kropovinsky says. “Blend various styles and periods of art in one gallery wall to create a focal point that is richly diverse but with perfect togetherness.”
Art can also take the form of cool sculptures, arty lamps or vases, among other things. “It is about finding something special that creates an overall unifying effect,” he says.
Try out textiles
“Throw pillows, rugs or curtains of different patterns and textures can give a room character,” Kropovinsky says. Lovato suggests velvet, linen or leather. “This adds depth and warmth to the space,” she says.
Blend color and pattern
“Mix bold prints, textures and different color palettes to add visual interest,” says Lovato. “Make sure there’s a unifying element, such as a common color or theme, to maintain cohesion.”
“Use a combination of lighting sources,” Lovato says. “Combine pendant lights, floor lamps, and table lamps to create a layered and inviting atmosphere.”
Combine modern and vintage
This creates a balanced look. “For instance, pair a sleek, contemporary dining table with vintage chairs, or vice versa,” Lovato says.
Display your collections
Like maximalism, eclectic style allows for you to showcase your personal style. “Whether it’s books, ceramics or travel souvenirs, displaying your unique collections can add a personal touch,” Lovato says.
If you get overwhelmed by the wealth of choices, Boudreaux says to remember this: “If there is any rule about designing a home in an eclectic manner, it’s to steer clear of channeling any one design style too much. Eclectic style is best when different styles are mixed with intention.”
About the Experts
Lindsay Boudreaux designs high-end homes in Northern Virginia and the Washington D.C. area through her firm, Shotgun Double Interior Design. She is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified.
Artem Kropovinsky, an award-winning interior designer, founded New York-based Arsight. The studio’s work has been featured in The New York Times and other media.
Ariana Lovato is the owner and principal designer of California-based Honeycomb Home Design. She is also a Realtor who founded Honeycomb Gives Back, a nonprofit that does room makeovers for children with special needs.