9 Eclectic Interior Design Tips for Mixing the Old with the New

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Ever heard of the term ‘eclectic’? Of course you have - it’s a word that’s popping up more and more in the interior design world, usually to describe a style that features both old and new pieces working together in one space. But for many of us who have tried to create an eclectic look in our own homes, the end result can often look more chaotic than classy.

Eclectic Gold Sofa

However, with a little planning and inspiration, it is possible to achieve a truly eclectic look in our living spaces, without the room ending up looking like a jumble sale!

  1. Find a theme

The trick to making old and new pieces work in the same space is to find a unifying theme that can tie them together. Whether this is a colour, a pattern, a material or a finish, picking out a common theme in your pieces will ensure that the space looks well-structured and balanced. Of course, everything isn’t going to match, but by focusing on one aspect you can still bring everything together. When buying new pieces, keep your old ones in mind – for instance, if you have an old red leather sofa, then look for new furnishings and accessories in a complementary hue. This doesn’t mean that everything has to be the same colour, of course, but if you have a few key pieces in a similar shade then everything should look as if it is tied together.

Rustic Eclectic Interior

  1. Customise your pieces

Consider adapting the pieces you have so that they tie together better and compliment the room. Customising your furniture is a great way to make it work for your particular space, and it will enable you to create pieces that are uniquely yours, reflecting your personality and tastes perfectly. So, why not get the paintbrush and sewing machine out to give old, or new, pieces a twist?

  • Perhaps you have lots of dark wood pieces, but your coffee table is a modern, bright white. In this case, painting the dark wood a pastel or cream colour may be a great way to tie the room together.
  • Another idea is to reupholster the seats of dining room chairs with a modern fabric that ties in with the rest of the room, to pull everything together. Ask your sofa supplier if they sell fabric by the metre to coordinate with your sofa.
  • Or, use an old item for a new purpose. A vintage bicycle could become a planter, or an old sewing machine could be used as a centrepiece above the fireplace.

Customising furniture can seem like a daunting job, but it doesn’t have to be. YouTube is full of tutorials on things like sanding wood and reupholstering – take a look at this YouTube channel, which is a great place to get started on learning how to reclaim furniture. If you feel nervous about getting the paint and sandpaper out, you could always consider ordering new pieces in a particular colour or material that will complement your older furniture and ornaments.

  1. Be bold

Though balance is important in tying your pieces together, contrast obviously has an important place in the eclectic look, too. An old-style armchair or chesterfield sofa can look marvellous when offset against ultra-modern pieces, such as a chrome coffee table. Classic sofa designs such as chesterfields are the perfect centre piece when creating an eclectic look of old and new.

Eclectic Chesterfield Room Set

Chesterfield Range by SofaSofa

The trick is to make a feature of the older items, so that they look like a gorgeous ornament rather than a tired old thing that needs to be thrown away. Give them pride of place in the room, and show them off. A little TLC in the form of leather cleaner, or beeswax for wood, can go a long way, too, to ensure that they look their best. Or push the boat out and buy a new retro piece of upholstery. It will look the part and you won't need to worry about a missing button or detached spring.

  1. Trust yourself

A room decorated with confidence is always going to look great. If you’ve chosen each of the pieces in your room because you truly love them, then chances are they’re going to work well together, as they’ll match your unique, personal taste. Trust your instincts. Take a leaf out of the British stately home owners’ books – they collected curiosities and antiquities over hundreds of years, and happily displayed these pieces alongside the fashionable furniture and ornaments of the day – and it looked awesome.

  1. Be patient

Though it would be lovely to walk into a charity shop and walk back out with your arms laden with enough quirky furniture and ornaments to fill and tie your living room together, the fact is that this just doesn’t happen in real life. Yes, the movies lied to you. So did Sixty Minute Makeover. Gathering together pieces for your eclectic room will take time. If you rush things, you’ll end up with the jumble sale look. But if you attend enough jumble sales, and pick up the right pieces when you see them, you might just achieve the eclectic look.

  1. Don’t clutter

It can be tempting to display all of your old ornaments that you’ve collected over the years, but this is almost certainly going to lead to a confused, busy looking space. Resist the urge, and pick out a few key items that will work well with your other features. Even with eclecticism, less is more. If your room is flooded with objects, nothing will stand out.

Eclectic Trinkets

  1. Pay attention to your home

If you’re starting from scratch, use the opportunity to find pieces that will tie in with the architecture of your home. Which period was your home built in? Furniture made in that period will lend itself well to the space, and provide a great starting point to work with.  In fact, your home itself could be the antique star in this instance. Make the most of period features like sash windows and high skirting boards. By making them stand out, perhaps even with coloured paint, you can use a modern piece to contrast with them to great effect.

  1. Keep it neutral

With an eclectic room, there’s almost always enough interest provided by the furniture and ornaments to prevent the need to add busy wallpaper or brightly painted walls into the mix. Stick to colours like cream, beige, grey and white for your walls, as these colours will provide a lovely backdrop for pretty much any ornament or piece of furniture.

Eclectic Interior 3

  1. Get inspired

Struggling to think of ideas on how to get started? The best thing to do in this situation is to look at what other people have done! If you’ve got friends who have a great eye for design, think about how they structure their living space. Are there any elements that you could recreate yourself? Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, after all. Though to make the space truly yours, you’ll want to put a personal spin on it. Ask your friends for advice and ideas too; sometimes a brainstorming session is all you need. The internet is a wonderful resource for inspiration, too – a quick browse through Pinterest is sure to offer up some fantastic ideas that you can try in your own home. Take a look at this board which focuses on mixing old and new décor to get you started. And be sure to visit us on Pinterest too!

Posted in Accessories, Art & Photography, Colour & Hue, Interior Design, Soft furnishings, Traditional Sofas on 14th Nov 2014

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