Design Talk: Eclectic vs. Collected
12 Ways To Master the Mix-and-Match Style
Houzz Contributor. Hi There! I currently live in a 1920s cottage in Atlanta that I'll describe as "collected." I got into design via Landscape Architecture, which I studied at the University of Virginia. I've been writing about design online for quite a few years over at Hatch: The Design Public Blog.
Houzz Contributor. Hi There! I currently live in a 1920s cottage in Atlanta... More »
Design terminology can be confusing, and the terms we throw around are open to a lot of interpretation. However, one term that is perhaps the most overused as a catchall for everything that doesn't fit into a particular style lately is "eclectic." I was recently at a styling workshop led by interior styling master Annette Joseph, and she said that she wasn't a fan of the word "eclectic." Because of the thought, knowledge, and mastery of balance that goes into so many of the beautifully layered rooms we give this moniker to, she prefers to say "collected." I like this word a lot; the ability to edit and curate diverse pieces, eras and textures needs a worthy name. (Just to be clear, I'm knocking the word eclectic, not the style it applies to!) Here are 12 different ways to get started if you want to achieve the "collected" look.
Use one interesting piece as a jumping off point. The Persian rug is the foundation of this collected room. Matching mats and frames unite the artwork on the wall, rich colors pulled from the rug adorn the sofa and walls, patterned pillows add variety, and objects like an antique glass bottle and a wooden bowl full of shells add texture.
Let your materials and textures be the stars of the room. This open kitchen/dining room combines rustic wood planks, and a slate floor with iconic modern pendants and contemporary Louis ghost chairs.
Be sure to include your architectural details as a layer of the collection. This architect has created a spare and beautiful dining room. He's kept original Victorian architectural details, grounded the room with a beautiful luxurious rug, added a contemporary Italian table and leather chairs, added unusual art and topped it all off with a classic Fortuny chandelier.
Use a neutral color palette as your base. A neutral color palette gives this room a sophisticated base, while a nice balance comes from a mix of Bergere chairs, coral pieces, a traditional gold-framed painting, cowhide rug and a more traditional coffee table. They even got away with placing a hand sculpture on top of one of the coffee table books!
The overall look of this room could be classified as contemporary, but if you look closely, the pillows, tufted leather ottoman, natural fiber rug, overstuffed sectional, pendulous glass light fixture, modern chairs and personal photographs make it a room I'd call "collected."
If you stick within a color palette, you can achieve a cohesive look with a lot of diverse pieces. This charming eat-in kitchen's palette is based in black and white, which helps hold the collected look together. Distressed farm chairs, an iconic Saarinen tulip table, botanical print wallpaper, a vintage chalkboard and a bamboo shade create a beautiful combination.
Of course, if you are going with black and white, you can add other interest through texture and materials. Here the antiqued gold mirror, chrome tray stands and plants enrich the collection.
Here's another beautiful example of how a black-and-white base palette ties together seemingly diverse items into a collected look.
A palette of browns, creams and orange allows the designer to mix a gold and cowhide bench, a Scandinavian modern Marimekko canvas, vintage shell light fixtures and a bamboo lattice duvet.
Get your feet wet with a simple tablescape. A tablescape is a good place to start when experimenting with your collecting abilities. I would imagine this person might be able to sing "My Favorite Things" with regard to the objects on this table.
The same thing goes for this collected tablescape.
If you're struggling, try striving for symmetry. This bedroom combines framed chinoiserie wallpaper, ikat pillows, a bold shade of orange, gold benches and Hollywood Regency touches, but symmetry balances it all.
Don't fear a theme. This spot takes its cue from the large botanical drawing, and the furnishings and accessories all play off it.
Keep your space spare and open. There's a lot of room for good chi to circulate all around the diverse pieces in Beach Bungalow 8's collected beach house. Trellis wallpaper, a bright bamboo chandelier, contemporary wooden chairs and a white iconic tulip table look like they are having an interesting conversation with each other.
Have no fear. Blogger Kim Johnson of Desire to Inspire makes no bones about her love of bright color and bold patterns, and somehow it all just works. I credit her design personality.
I throw this picture into too many ideabooks, but I had to include Decor Demon among the bright color/bold graphic fearless few.
Keep your composure. Keep things composed, I mean. Blogger Alicia of Atypical Type A pays careful attention to shapes (bedspread pattern, vase, canister, lamp) and plays with the arrangement until it's just right.
When in doubt, hire a designer. I don't have the words to describe how this designer accomplished layering so many beautiful and diverse things in this room. That's because I lack her skills and eye. If you have a bunch of pieces you love that you just cannot seem to make work together, get advice from a pro. Perhaps try getting your feet wet by hiring an e-decorator.
Next: Browse more eclectic design photos
Next: Browse more eclectic design photos
Ideabook published on Feb. 14, 2011.
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