Eclecticism: A Misunderstood Style

When I first meet a client, and before any of the planning takes place, I like to get a feel for what that client likes. Often, the best (and easiest) way to do that is to request images – most folks who are ready for my help have been thinking about their space for a while, and often have a collection of Pinterest boards, magazine tear sheets, or the like. The reason I find this to be the most effective way to get a glimpse into what someone likes or dislikes is because it’s very visual and gives me the most accurate way to picture what they’ve pictured. Also, most of us have a difficult time expressing in words what we like or don’t like. What I hear most often? “I kinda like a bunch of different styles. I don’t really know what my style is. I suppose it’s eclectic.”

Over the past ten years or so, the term eclectic has become increasingly popular. People tend to use the term when they have no other words to describe their tastes. It’s often a universal word to describe a mishmash of furniture and accessories, and seems to be becoming a household term to encompass chaos and lack of clarity. I’m going to be super honest here: mixing lots of different styles, clashing colours, and multiple prints is more bad taste than curated eclecticism.

What is Eclecticism?

If I could give you one single takeaway from this blog post, it would be this: TRUE ECLECTIC STYLE IS HIGHLY INTENTIONAL. It’s planned. It’s deliberate. It doesn’t happen by happy accident. True eclectic décor actually has cohesiveness. While it involves mixing different styles and eras together, it’s done with a sense of commonality, and there must be a single conceptual thread that ties things together. It is, however, one of my favorite styles to work with. Why? Because it’s soooo much fun. It can be polished and upscale, or quirky and unexpected. Plus, it’s a sure-fire way to showcase your multi-faceted personality!

Is Eclectic Style Right for You?

So, how do you know if a multi-style design approach is for you? Start with these questions:

  • Do you want to get away from the “rules” of the latest trends while maintaining your own style?
  • Do you prefer a collected, timeless space rather than the shiny newness of the latest magazine spreads?
  • Does your space reflect a single style but you’d love to incorporate a second or third?
  • Do you desire creativity and uniqueness above all other design elements?

Where to Start?

Ready to dive in? Here are my top tips for embracing eclecticism in your space:

  • Start with neutral(ish) walls. This will allow your furnishings and accessories to take centre stage.
  • Choose a max of 3 styles (for example, traditional, mid-century modern, and farmhouse) – if you attempt to mix in more than three, you’ll end up with kitsch, not eclectic.
  • Use a 60/20/20 formula: 60% should be your base style, followed equal parts of your two other styles. (tip: area rugs and art can be the focal points that create that perfect tension between styles)
  • Pay attention to scale: avoid too many scattered small pieces without some larger things to add weight.
  • Embrace the unexpected! Have a piece or two that stands out in its uniqueness or backstory.

The truth is, there’s good reason why eclectic style is all the rage today. Although it can be a difficult concept to execute, it is, at its core, a beautiful melding of style variety. And if you’ll pardon me for getting a bit philosophical here, in a world where we strive to be inclusive in our day to day dealings with people, where we covet coming together and exploring new ideas, shouldn’t our homes be a reflection of the same principles? I think so. And I’d love to help you create your own space of dynamic style combinations. Let’s chat about it – hit me up on social media or via email!

Cheers to style meshing!


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