Achieve the eclectic, lived-in look

by Diana Fox

Eclectic decorating is a comfortable mix-and-match approach — an attitude discovered while experimenting with your individual style and design preferences. It blends together the environment, the people who live there and the energy they exude to create a unique atmosphere reflective of their spirit and lifestyle.

An eclectic environment can be gracious and beautiful, yet it absolutely must be inviting and totally livable. Whether you’re designing refined or relaxed spaces, putting together an eclectic mix gives you the freedom to express yourself.

You can add anything you like that works together, that looks good together and compliments other pieces. Eclectic design adds depth and beauty while bringing the unexpected into your life and home. Go ahead — blend your grandmother’s antique sideboard with a contemporary maple dining room set. These mismatched pieces will look terrific together when accessorized with an area rug, greenery and a creative centerpiece.

An eclectic environment isn’t decorated with everything in perfect order; rather, it is the mix of your favorite things combined to create a lived-in look that is wonderfully personal. It simply means mixing things up — styles, periods, elements, whatever looks good. Use your own ideas by showcasing your favorite things. Be creative and gutsy in putting things together you like, but at the same time use good judgment when incorporating various designs styles with decorating fundamentals.

Good lines and good design always mix, regardless of where or when they come from. Mixing, when done well, can create something more meaningful and interesting — a rich, warm, inviting style with a combination of beauty, character and fun.

Experiment with a variety of elements and treasures, some old and some new, antiques with modern, contemporary with primitive, mixing wood tones — light with dark. Combine pieces in natural materials like stone, leather or wool with expensive crystal and fine china. Mix colors, patterns and textures. Eclectic design is ever changing and always wonderful. By simply adding or removing an object or two, you’ll be surprised at how easily your space is transformed. Keep things fluid and move objects from room to room. You’ll be delighted with the fresh new look.

Set an inviting table by using a fringed silk throw as a tablecloth or place traditional cherry wood furnishings with a textured sisal area rug. Or, introduce a wicker ottoman with a wingback chair upholstered in a pleasing plaid fabric. Decorate a hall table with a combination of leather books, wooden boxes and a favorite piece of rustic pottery. Layer in silver candlesticks, a whimsical lamp, a family picture and fresh flowers in a beautiful vase and you’ve created an inspired arrangement that reflects a casual elegance.

Eclectic decorating is personal and allows you the relaxed freedom to add character and surprise. Inspiration comes from everywhere. A mixture of several coordinating fabrics and different objects can add the unexpected, while a weathered leather sofa can look complete when placed with a red Chinese accent chest, a stained glass lamp, an animal-print area rug and velvet draperies.

Discover your style, your decorating personality and the fun of real living by adding beauty and comfort into your home with eclectic design and inspired decorating.

Diana specializes in interior arrangement, room design makeover, color consultation and relocating services. She has been assisting clients since 1986 and can be reached by phone at (951) 202-7859, e-mail at or on the Web at