What is the style of your home? Clean lines and neat glass tops? Bright colors in the Southwest? Or are you comfortable in an elegant traditional setting?
Good news: you don’t have to choose just one. Mixing styles is an option that can make your home design more interesting. But how do you avoid bringing in something that will stick out like the proverbial sore thumb? We asked Traci Taylor, lead interior designer at Arise Interiors in San Diego, how to properly mix different furniture, lighting and decor styles.
Q: Some home design articles see mixed styles as a trend. Is it new?
A: People always mix styles. Colonization and travel along trade routes connected people and things that had not been connected before. There are a lot of unusual and interesting mixed influences; we can see a manor table with Queen Anne legs. In the West, we see a mix of Native Americans, Hispanics, and Mexicans. In the Caribbean, there is some Dutch influence.
Most of the articles out there are about what not to do and how to do it safely. Design 101. There’s not a lot of information about the wildlife people want in their homes. You have to be a good designer to solve this problem.
ask: What does it mean to play safely?
A: Designers use the 80/20 ratio. Choose a basic model for 80% of the space; different elements can be introduced to fill the other 20%. This is a good standard.
Some designers push the formula even further, saying that the added styles should be from the same era as the base furniture and have the same feel, the same sensibility.
Q: What styles are we likely to see together?
A: Minimalism and Scandinavian style go hand in hand. Desert Modern can be compatible with Mid-Century Modern. But you don’t usually see desert modern style in a farmhouse room.You don’t usually combine coastal and[r1] .
Mixing creates character, but it’s a challenge for homeowners and designers alike. You have to figure it out and ask yourself, ‘How are we going to do this? It’s like going back to design school and solving problems. But it’s much better than seeing the same thing over and over again.
Q: What’s a good combination that people don’t usually think of?
A: When the furniture is high quality and well designed, you get a great feel for a plain Mexican pine table in a clean, modern space. It can be amazing. Or use a beautifully curved antique table.
The room has a rhythm. You can create a significant interest by repeating contrasts, patterns and colors. Your eyes should turn to focus and look at other beautiful things in the room, such as the fireplace, cozy furniture, rugs, and some treasures, possibly from the homeowner’s travels. It’s like following their story.
Q: I’m glad you mentioned travel. How do you handle redesigns when the client has a ton of stuff?
A: People collect very strange things and sometimes they have a hard time letting go. I usually recommend picking three of the best and most interesting things from a collection and finding a place for them.
Too many collectibles can overwhelm a room, creating a chaotic and casual vibe. Especially in a small room, it can feel cramped.
Q: What is your biggest challenge?
A: One of my clients loves tartan. She wants everything to be plaid. everything. I told myself to make this place look cool no matter what. In the end, it became one of my favorite projects. I wish I had a picture of it.
I did an upgraded kitchen. It’s gorgeous, ultra-modern, and contemporary, with a high-gloss cream marble countertop with a touch of green. Homeowners wanted to showcase a collection of colorful knick-knacks that wouldn’t normally be part of a neutral, streamlined kitchen. We placed the collections on floating shelves and added pops of color around the room for balance.
Generally speaking, color alone is not enough to unify everything in a room.You need to think about space, scale, texture, as I mentioned before, pattern and contrast, texture and line are[r2] .
I really like that people want to mix it up, but I didn’t say it’s easy.
Katherine Gao is a freelance writer.