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Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Get the Look: Eclectic Style

The buzzword in interior decorating circles today is "eclectic." The word has always had an artistic aura about it, suggesting a person of wide ranging interests and tastes, but has only recently been applied to interior design, which usually emphasises the coordination of colours, designs and themes. The challenge of eclectic style is in achieving the look without making your house look like a storage area for a jumbled assortment of bric-a-brac. How do you do it?

What is Eclectic Style?

A dictionary definition of "eclectic" is: "Selecting or employing individual elements from a variety of sources, systems, or styles". A person with an eclectic taste in music may enjoy listening to Beethoven, the Beatles and Hip Hop. A person with an eclectic taste in interior decor may have an equal passion for Art Deco, the Sixties and Victorian era furnishings and decorative items. Eclectic style even goes beyond having an appreciation for different styles, though, and may include the pairing of a timber packing crate with an expensive bronze sculpture or an antique Victorian era chair with a lava lamp from the 1960s. In other words, another definition of eclectic style may be, "Whatever suits your fancy."

What distinguishes eclectic style from bric-a-brac is a subtle coordination of elements. Some elements that may tie otherwise disparate objects together to create a harmonious whole include:

Get the Look: Eclectic Style

·   Size and shape: Six completely different styles of chairs around a dining table can be a refreshingly original change from six matching chairs if they are all a similar size or have similar shapes. A second hand furniture shop is a great place to look for eclectic style furnishings, but you don't want it to look like you just chose the six cheapest chairs in the shop.

·  Colour: Part of the magic of eclectic style can be an exciting mixture of contrasting colours, but for it to work, there needs to be an integrating colour element. Take a chequerboard bedspread on a four poster bed against a wall with paisley wallpaper, for example. This could be a recipe for stylistic disaster, but if some of the squares in the bedspread are a similar shade of blue to the blue in the wallpaper, it can work spectacularly well.

·  Texture: A disparate collection of soft furnishings can work well together, even if they are from different eras.

An old stainless steel work table may catch your eye. You love all the dents and scratches in it and want to add it to your collection of eclectic furnishings, but how do you make it look like anything other than just an old work table? Find a visual element that ties it in with other furnishings you find. If it looks too harsh and industrial, try combining it with richly upholstered furniture with touches of grey in the upholstery. A single element is all it takes to create a tie between two objects.

Of course, if you try too hard to achieve an eclectic look, it will no longer be eclectic. The whole idea, after all, is to liberate yourself from set ideas about what should work and discover unique combinations of elements that work together. One of the best ways to achieve this is by experimentation. There's a great tool for brainstorming ideas right here on Home Improvement Pages. Why not create an eclectic inspiration board from our collection of thousands of Inspirational Photos for Your Home and see what you come up with? It's a sure way to stimulate your imagination and a lot cheaper and easier than going out and buying everything you see until you find a combination that works for you.

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