Mix + Match Design Styles

While there are design rules that many designers go by (and that I carefully learned when entering this industry), rules are sometimes made to be broken. One rule that I love to break is that a room or home has to have one design style: either traditional, modern, contemporary, rustic, country, etc. What I love about design is that it’s personal; it’s flexible to cater to your likes and interests, not a style “box”.

Nothing makes me cringe more than a room or home that looks like it should be in a catalog with all matching pieces, one style, all from the same store (sorry if this is you, it’s not your fault, the stores make it easy to do this!). Or a client who has all traditional furniture and decor because they have a traditional house but hate the traditional style. While having all modern pieces in a traditional home may seem a little off, mixing in a few different style pieces and adding modern colors will freshen it up a bit while still making the home feel right. Mixing and matching styles is what makes a home your own and unique, so think outside of the box! I know…cliche, but it fits!

I will say, if you have a cottage on the beach and love the beachy cottage style, by all means, go all out! But if you like different styles and don’t feel like you fit into one in particular, here are some tips on mixing styles with an example I put together using mid-century modern pieces.

I adore the mid-century modern style, in fact, the set design is one of the main reasons I watched Mad Men (PS did you see the finale? Lets all pause for a moment of silence for the end of an era).

Unless you live in a mid-century modern house, it’s tough to pull off an entire house with mid-century modern furniture and accessories. But mixing in other pieces can make it work in most homes.

Mid Century Style Board copy

For the above example I used Eames chairs and a mid-century modern credenza from Chairish– an online vintage shop. I won’t go into detail on all furniture that would be considered mid-century modern, but if you’re curious, check out the mid-century modern furniture at Chairish

A few points about this design:

  • To tone down the clean modern lines of the credenza and chairs, I chose a rustic dining room table with an iron base. The grain in the wood and unique shape adds movement to the clean lines elsewhere in the room. Also, notice I chose a lighter wood with dark grain that goes with the darker wood in the credenza. Mixing woods is a whole other post, but that’s one trick you can tuck away in your back pocket for later use.
  • To fancy up the room a little and to balance the iron table base, I chose a glitzy chandelier in gold. Brass and gold warms up a room, and I think it adds a perfect amount of sparkle. The lamps on the credenza are glass, which reflects light, adding a little more shine to an otherwise often plain room. They’re also round, which contrasts with the straight lines of the credenza.
  • The color scheme came from the art which I think is a great focal point. From the art, I picked up the pink for the rug, a pop of color, as well as the blue tones for accessories.

The key to mixing and matching is balance.  Instead of thinking of the style, “that light fixture is traditional, or that table is rustic” focus on the shape and feel of each piece. For example: “leggy” chairs called for a bulkier table (a “leggy” glass table would not work here) as well as a more visually heavy credenza. The rustic table and wood tones, needed a girly touch (in my opinion at least, my husband would probably disagree) so I chose a girlier color scheme and a pretty chandelier.

Mixing and matching styles is so fun, you really can throw out rules and go by what you think looks right. If something is off, play with it a bit. Here are some other tips if a room isn’t working right.

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