Style Guide: Eclectic

“ec·lec·tic – deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources.”

The English word eclectic first appeared in the seventeenth century to describe philosophers who did not belong to a particular school of thought, but instead assembled their doctrines by picking and choosing from a variety of philosophical systems. Today, the word can refer to any assemblage of varied parts.

Unlike other decor styles that are defined by rules and stylistic guides, Eclectic Decor is more fluid and free-spirited. The style is grounded in the idea that connection can be found between all cultures, time periods and decor styles.

Borrowing elements from various styles and melding them together, emphasizing personal touch, Eclectic decor is inspired by individual experiences and world views; unlike other styles, it’s truly a sum of its parts. If you are not one to be tied down to one specific type of decor, then Eclectic might be right for you.

There is a fine line, however, between a beautifully eclectic room and a room that is merely haphazard and chaotic, with no unifying themes or motifs.

Style Guide: Eclectic Design Hotel bathroom
Photo: José Hevia, Can Bordoy -Grand House & Garden, a 24 room hotel located in the historic center of Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Popular Eclectic Design Categories

Comfortable and unconventional, the bohemian style evokes a social interest in the arts, making it a great interior design option for exploring patterns and a relaxed spirit. Layering vintage and modern finds create a space rich in visual interest while paring them with worldly and industrial modern finds create playful quirk.

This style demonstrates how globally connected the world we live in truly is. It’s an aesthetic to appreciate cultures around the globe and showcases its goods and products in refreshing and eclectic environments.

Natural eclectic  calls upon simple living and contemplates a return to nature with indoor plants and bright Tropical colors as seen in “Jungalow” styling. Modern furnishings with natural expressions such as wood and rattan work well in these spaces.

Mod Collector
This style tends to be more playful and a little edgier than traditional mid-century interiors. The Mod Collector style is about mixing statement pieces designed during this period have stood the test of time with multiple materials – from velvet and marble to metal, wood, leather, and linen.

Glam eclectic mixes all sorts of furniture styles—traditional, modern, minimal, and glam. This look is bold, even for an eclectic space. It’s just the right amount of over-the-top while staying rooted in its traditional influences. In this style you’ll see a lot of minimal yet impactful touches that give it that posh and elevated look. The “Paris Apartment” style is a great format that explores the nature of design; lighting apparatuses and bold colors in traditional settings embody the look.

Style Guide: Eclectic Design Outdoor kitchen
Credit: Greg Natale, Barwon River House, Private Estate

Pro Tips

The eclectic design style, because it is so varied and daring, looks best against a simple background … neutral wall colors make the focus stay on the eclectic elements.

Eclectic style is all about unexpected combinations – light with dark, polished with dull, soft with hard, structured with shabby, sturdy with delicate. With so many contrasts in play, it’s important to seek balance between these extremes. Maintain a roughly equal proportion of each type of aesthetic for a balanced room..

True eclectic decorating is highly intentional. The goal is to create a beautiful space that represents your style. Carefully juxtaposition small collectibles you love with larger anchor pieces. Don’t forget to leave open or blank spaces for your eye to rest – too much clutter is overwhelming.

Style Guide: Eclectic Design | Gallery Wall
Photo: Rita Konig via Elle Decor

Getting Started with your Eclectic Design

The Gallery Wall is a great way to bring together items you have on and hand and love. A great gallery wall can be just pictures, but it can also be so much more – the possibilities are essentially endless. Your wall can have a central theme or a unifying color. Adding dimension is a great way to make your gallery stand out – play with frame thicknesses, add 3D objects or consider adding sconces and floating shelves. Last tip, use a level when hanging your pieces. Making sure every item is straight is crucial. Good luck

12 Replies to “Style Guide: Eclectic”

  1. Hi Ann ~

    I loved reading about the various types of eclectic style in your post. Thanks for the education !

  2. What a great article, completely inspiring! We moved recently and we will be putting in a new kitchen eventually. I don’t even know where to start. I loved this post, so many great ideas! Thanks for sharing.

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