How to mix styles and maybe mortify your mother-in-law

An eclectic interior style is what happens when you do what most of us do: acquire bits and pieces for your home over time, and as your style evolves. It is the best way to go when creating interiors, as more often than not it means that all the things that make up your home, are things with special meaning to you.

This can only be good. Unless it’s bad, because the damn things won’t work together, and make your home look more like a random yard sale in a bad part of town, less like a boho chic haven.

Eclectic is not always an easy style to pull off somehow, because as it appears there’s a skill to it. Here are a few tricks that I have picked up through years of working within interior magazines and rubbing shoulders with some very cool stylists.

Featured image for this post is the dining area in my kitchen. It also doubles as a home office, especially for my oldest son and his friends who do their homework here. And stylewise it is most definitely eclectic.

Let me walk you through why this eclectic works:

Main thing is of course that what you are passionate about never goes out of style, at least not for you – and you are the protagonist of your own home.

For me this whole room started with the pendant copper shade from Tom Dixon. I bought it with money I didn’t have. Because I had just spent them on exchanging the standard tiles for the bathrom with some terribly unpractical, but utterly magnificent cement tiles for our two bathrooms, but that’s a different story.

The round teak dining table came next. It is midcentury modern Norwegian design and came from a local vintage shop that I visit far too often. The table has crayon stick figures underneath its’ top, but the only people who know this, except for me, are my children (and now quite possibly also Husband). My children have happily added too what was already there, at the same time giving mummy some much sought after piece and quiet. (You benefit from that too, Husband!)

As much as I advocate the eclectic, I still try to build the room around the midcentury modern Nordic furniture, because I absolutely love that. So the key piece in any room of mine tend to be of that style. But I am drawn to several eras, and so I need the different styles to be on speaking terms with each other. Trying to keep things within the same colour palette helps.

But I break that rule too, as you will see, and for a reason.

The credenza with elements of flame birch in the background are from a few decades earlier than the dining table, but also Norwegian. I fell in love with it when I used it for a magazine shoot that I styled, using only vintage furniture from a Salvation Army shop. I walked home with half the shoot and successively a very small pay check to spare, but that is yet another story.

Oh, when it comes to interiors, there are so many stories to tell!

The Panton chair that works as a dining chair is also midcentury modern, so fits the room by default, although it is not Nordic. It has however been with Husband and I for a good decade. I nursed my firstborn in it. And as a stark contrast to that memory, it’s sleek, black, musical shape adds a touch of rock’n’roll to the room, and I need a little rock’n’roll in my home to be happy.

The vintage school chair that is only slightly visible in the right hand corner came from a yard sale I passed on the way home from a cabin trip with friends. Luckily I had to leave earlier than the others due to work commitments, and had noe one else in the car with me. Meant I could fit the chair. It is not midcentury modern, but its’ seat and back has the warm glow of wood that ties this particular room together.

The blue Stokke chair, a Norwegian design classic, is from the early 70s, there is another white one just out of camera shot. They belong to my children, gifts from my parents.

The comfy chair in the corner by the windows, I bought off a neighbour for next to nothing. I needed a comfortable leather chair and was on a budget. The chair is severely beat up, but a large sheepskin that my mother-in-law gave to us makes it the chair we all fight for in the morning when we have breakfast.

My mother-in-law gifted the locally made sheepskin to us, because whenever we were at her house, my two boys would not leave that thing alone. And neither would I. We were stroking it and rolling around on it on the floor, laughing and fighting over who could stay on it the longest. It probably got embarrassing, and so she caved and handed it over.

The wall paper is from a Swedish supplier that I love, Rebel Walls, and I got it because the house is brand new.

What any stylist or interior designer worth their fancy flat whites will tell you, is that contrast is king. It really is.

With a brand new house, I needed the walls to at least look like they had a little character, until they get it for real, and that is what that wallpaper adds. The noisy rug, though, it really should not by any means work in this room, as that much pattern put together ought to scream CRAZAH!

Finding the right rug is a MASSIVELY big deal for an interior nerd like me. And with any decision of that kind, it is well worth taking risks. For getting this rug in this room, transformed the whole atmosphere!

The rug makes it feel like I didn’t try so hard to put it all together, when really it took years of sourcing.

What’s the worst that can happen if you get your styles mixed in an unpleasing way? Why, you change it, most often removing one or more things, or maybe just painting them out in the same colour. Easy peasy.

Paint a wall in a colour you do not like? You paint it again. If you buy a rug that does not go with the rest of the room after all? You take it back to where you bought it and exchange it for a different rug. That statement ceramic sculpture that just seemed weird once you got it home? Return it to your shop, or give it as a wedding present to someone you don’t like that much. Just kidding.

My point is that here is really no reason to be wary of taking risks when you decorate your home, as most mistakes can be fixed without it requiring a huge effort on your side. And those mistakes, sometimes they are not mistakes, but instead transform the room in a positive way you’d never imagined.

Only eclectic can do that for you, but it has to be sourced with passion.

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