In response to Sunday’s post, a comment from Terry has inspired this blog post about a simple formula for creating collected, eclectic interiors.
Here’s what Terry said:
OK, Laurel, inquiring minds (or at least this one dumb Blonde) are dying to know –
– just how many pieces of matching furniture are considered a NO-NO? In my master bedroom, there’s a king bed with a rattan headboard, small dresser w/ mirror, highboy, linen press (to hide the TV), chaise, end table, side table, and three lamps.
The dresser/mirror, highboy & linen press are all the same wood.
Here is my response.
I’m a dumb brunette. No, really. I do idiotic things all of the time. Well, we all do. We’re human. I realize that this topic of matched sets of furniture is a sticky wicket. And, I also don’t want to make folks feel like they’re clueless or made a terrible decorating faux pas.
However, in the purest idea of putting together collected eclectic interiors, ideally, no pieces of furniture should be part of a matched set.
The word is coordinate. It should all, pretty much, look like it goes in the same room. I say “pretty much” because sometimes having one thing that looks like it doesn’t belong is the thing that makes the decor soar to another level. However, that is not easy to pull off.
This comes easily to me. Other things, no.
End of comment.
Okay, after nine years, four months, and four days, I can’t believe that I’ve never written this post. Oh, I’ve certainly talked about the need to avoid matched sets of furniture. Some call it “matchy-matchy.”
However, I’ve never spelled out how to create eclectic interiors. At least, I don’t think so.
Ummm, Laurel. You wrote “a SIMPLE formula for eclectic interiors.”
Yes, I know that. :]
Is it really simple? I don’t know. I haven’t written the post yet. haha
However, as I stated in my response to Terry, it’s pretty easy for me.
At this point.
I mean, after 33 years in this business, if it wasn’t, that would be pretty sad.
Okay, I realize that it’s not simple. However, I will attempt to break it all down so that hopefully, it will begin to make sense.
The first thing I want you to do is read this important post – The 12-Step Decorating Program That Works Every Time.
This is the backbone of creating an eclectic interior or a collected look that has evolved over time.
Of course, you could furnish your rooms with 18th-century antiques or good reproductions and Persian rugs. There’s nothing wrong with that. And, particularly if you live in an antique home of the 18th or 19th century. Or, at least, a recently-built home in that style.
Classical architecture like that is certainly alive and well in the UK, as I saw on my trip to England in 2017.
However, if you want something more individual, an eclectic interior that looks evolved, there are two basic ways to go about achieving this.
1. Take the time to study what it is that you really love.
My Boston living room last January.
For example, I love everything neo-classical.
That means Georgian, Louis XVI, and Gustavian styles. These are all periods with overlapping styles in England, France, and Sweden from the Late 18th and early 19th centuries.
My former living room in Bronxville, NY
In fact, ALL of my furniture is based on these styles. Therefore it always goes together and always looks good wherever it goes. However, it looks the best in my current home because I possess the Paulina Porizkova of living rooms.
I could put furniture from Bob’s Discount Furniture in here, and it would look good. lol
Well, not everyone can afford 5k for one sofa. And, especially when there are young children, pets, slobby relatives, you know…
I certainly do know.
I went for years back in the 90s when we couldn’t afford so much as a table lamp. I’m not exaggerating.
After we moved out of Manhattan with our almost one-year-old (yes, him) :] in 1991 to tony Northern Westchester. We soon realized that even though we had purchased about the cheapest home available, we were exceedingly house poor due to high taxes and a hefty winter heating bill.
And, even when I got a decorating job in 1992, almost my entire income went to Cale’s daycare three days a week.
Oh my. Sorry. I didn’t even get to number 2.
This one I did write a post about.
Fine, I know that the word “steal” conjures up thoughts of deceit, if not downright criminality.
Okay, but here’s the thing. The designer is never going to know unless you have them over for dinner. lol And, 99% of the time, they are going to be flattered, not insulted. That goes triple+ if what you are “stealing” is furniture the designer designed, and they are earning a hefty commission for every $10,000 sofa that’s sold. Okay?
Besides, your room is never going to look EXACTLY the same.
But, this is why I share the work of designers. It’s so we can learn from them. And, here are some of my favorites.
Okay, this is not my entire list. No way. In fact, some of my favorite designers were left off. It’s not that I don’t think they’re worthwhile; they definitely are. However, I’m trying to keep this post from turning into a book!
Sheila designed the fantastic Harlem Toile, discussed here.
I’ve adored her innovative yet classic interiors for decades!
Oh my! The chandeliers are new! LOVE them!
Steve Cordony’s gigagorgoues double parlor. The mouldings look original. Right?
However, they’re not. Here is the living room during renovations.
I adore James’ work. I love how deftly he combines patterns and colors for a harmonious flow. Note how the end chairs mimic the shape of the side chairs. Please find more of James’ work here.
That is Zoffany’s Eleonora wallpaper. You can purchase it here.
Important info. This is a Euro-sized roll that covers 56 sq feet.
An American roll covers 35 sq feet. But, with repeats, it is more like 45 and 27 square feet respectively. Always consult your professional before ordering wallpaper online! It is NOT returnable!
In the next room is Peter Dunham’s Fig Leaf pattern available at Lynn Chalk, as seen above.
Steven Gambrel’s eclectic interiors are a wonderful blend of classic contemporary, antiques, and classical motifs. But, all in an elegantly casual way. Most of his interiors are monochromatic. His favorite color is blue. But, not just blue, but the most interesting combinations of blue.
Mr. Gatewood is turning 100 next month!!!
Shazam! Although not a trained interior designer, he’s one who was just born having “it.” The “it” is the thing no one can teach you. But, we can certainly imitate it. Or, at least attempt to. I highly recommend his book.
I’ve admired Victoria Hagan’s work since the late 1980s. Her rooms are elegant, classical, perfectly proportioned with simple color schemes. Please find more of her work here.
I’ve featured Suzanne’s work on this blog dozens of times. I’ve never seen a room of hers I didn’t love. She, too, features mostly monochromatic color schemes. But, not all are pale and soft. You can see many examples here.
This is a mother-daughter team whose work I adore. Everything they do is classic, yet very fresh; quite liveable, I think. Please see more here.
Summer is one of the new breed of young traditional designers.
Her rooms are unfussy, immensely stylish, and clearly define the principles of beautifully designed.
Ashley has a very similar new-trad, classic aesthetic to Summer.
Well, not much needs to be said because I’ve featured Mark on this blog dozens of times. Please see Sunday’s post for more on Mark.
I still look at her books that were written in the 90s for reference and inspiration. There isn’t one room that 25 years later looks in any way “dated.”
The image above is from her book, Decorating With Color.
I believe that Martha Stewart is one of the pioneers of the New Trad style. The irony is that “new,” in this case, means far closer to authentic 18th-century traditional, but with a classically modern twist.
Okay, now that we’ve seen all of these beautiful examples of new-trad eclectic interiors, let’s go over the main points so that we can create these eclectic interiors in our homes.
- First comes the architecture of the room. Mouldings, doorways, windows, and fireplaces. Super important!
- Use simple color palettes. If you need help with that, I highly recommend the Laurel Home Paint & Palette Collection. Please see the special deal below.
- All rooms have some black (or else almost black) and white. Rooms that fall flat usually don’t have any black in them.
- Most rooms have some gold as an accent.
The furniture and furnishings.
First of all, please notice that there is never a LOT of brown furniture in these eclectic interiors. Yes, there is brown, but not scads of it. And, in the case of these designers, most of the stained brown furniture are antiques.
Like this dining room we did several years ago.
So, if the furniture isn’t stained brown, what is it?
A lot of the furniture in these eclectic interiors is painted. However, designers often use other materials besides wood on some of the pieces, such as wicker, rattan, caning, metal, stone, bone, glass, and mirror.
In fact, I recommend having as many of these elements as possible.
One of my favorite ways to break up the wood is by introducing either a metal-based coffee table or the side tables. If the room was more casual, they were usually black. But, sometimes, we did gold.
- Metal, and particularly gold or brass, is wonderful for accents and picture frames.
- Mirrors are a great way to bring in light and a refreshing texture.
Natural fibers reign supreme. I love them too!
As for colors, sources, space planning, proportions, details…
Frankly, there’s a ton of information in my rocking interior design guides. I don’t push them hard because I think that’s obnoxious. But, there’s so much in all of them that it’s really like an interior design course one can have for a lot less money.
A LOT less.
Plus, there’s so much essential information that they don’t teach you in school.
I’m not going to go on in a big way here because:
A. Some of you aren’t interested.
B. Many of you already have the guides.
But, most of you don’t. So, to make it easier, I’m having a mid-summer FLASH SALE!!! 20% off of ALL of my beautiful interior design guides
Do you like my gif? I made it myself on giphy with the graphics done on Picmonkey.
Okay, for those of you who are interested. I’m offering 20% off on all of the products! This is a slow-burning flash and ending Sunday, August 18th at 11:59 PM ET.
But, then it’ll be over, and the prices will go back up.
This link will take you to the introductory page. From there, you’ll find other links that will take you to the pages that explain more about each guide:
I’m listing the guides below, as well:
- Laurel’s Rolodex A shopping guide with 100s of vendors. Designers can learn where to get products at the lowest possible price. But, there’s a lot of great info for non-designers, as well.
- Six-Figure Income Blogger. This is actually my favorite guide. It explains everything I’ve done to create a profitable website. And, this applies to everyone who wants to get the most out of their website and get more business. If you aren’t interested in getting more business, then I wouldn’t bother to get the guide.
- 333 Hard to Find Rules & Tips You Need to Know – is crammed full of measurements, proportions, and so much more! I should be charging five times what it is.
- There’s also a guide to the best of Etsy. Some 150 vendors!
I hope you found this post about eclectic interiors helpful!
If you purchase a product and have any issues, please email me at admin at laurel bern interiors dot com. I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
Also, please download (save) your guides, one at a time, if getting more than one and ideally put them in a folder on your desktop. That way they will be happy. If using on a mobile device or tablet, they need to be downloaded to an app like Apple Books.