When Doug retired, he decided to try his hand at cooking dinner for us.  This is how we roll now…I do the meal planning and grocery list and he goes to the store (gross, is there anything worse than going to the grocery store?). 

When I cooked, I glanced at a recipe and always altered it because more of this or less of that is better.  Besides, as a type A certified control freak, I would definitely know what will taste better.   When Doug started cooking, he went exactly by the recipe and never ever altered it.  I was so confused, why wasn’t he adding more cheese or using less basil?  He informed me that someone has already figured the recipe out.  They found what produced the best results and who was he to challenge that.  Wtf?

Design styles can be like that.  Some of us want to create our own look, we like a little of this style and a little of that style and for some, it’s concrete.  After all, who are they to add a touch of modern to traditional?  If you are among the first and like a mix of multiple styles, know that mixing can be cool but you can definitely screw it up.  Just because you like it does not mean it works.

Here are some guidelines on how to successfully mix it up… 

  1. Color

Using a neutral palette as the backdrop helps to calm the chaos in style.  Paint your walls in a warm white or bone color to create this.  If you’re combining styles of furniture, choosing close to the same colorway helps the pieces get along. 

  1. Shape

When you mix styles, pay attention to the shape of the piece.  Don’t stick a square track arm sofa next to rolled arm sofa for extra seating. 

  1. Scale

Think of it this way, if you are using a large chesterfield sofa you shouldn’t put small armless chairs with it.  Although the chesterfield is considered traditional, you can definitely mix with contemporary chairs, but they need to be of size.  If you want to mix up old chairs at a dinette table, do it – but keep the scale close or one will draw more attention than the other. 

  1. Line

Use lines to your advantage when mixing styles.  Your eye needs to move through a room and know where to land.  This principle is important whether you are sticking to one style or combining. 

  1. Welcome two-faced pieces

A Queen Anne chair upholstered in a cool modern fabric gets the job done!  This instantly says “We are officially mixing this room up”.  Because the fabric is permanent on the chair, it somehow makes both traditional and modern feel welcome. 

  1. Balance

Bad balance is always a give-away that you need help. 

  1. Mix equally

Putting all your coastal items in one room and all your traditional in another will make people hit the side of their head to make sure they are seeing right.  If you’re going to mix it up then do it consistently and throughout the house.

Okay quiz!  You have a ginormous rustic fireplace on a huge wall.  It is a stone front with a distressed large wooden mantle.  On one side is a bold rustic vintage leather chair and a floor lamp with a large burlap drum shade, on the other side you would put:

  • A) a French dainty chair with a small floral print
  • B) a large black contemporary floor pot
  • C) a collage of French paintings on the wall that are all small but collaged to create a large presence
  • D) a large console that is made of glass and very modern
  • E) a large console that is made of wood and very traditional

What’s your answer?  The only one that won’t work in this example is the small chair.  Just make the weights match – think of an old-fashioned scale.  If it seems to be about the same weight visually, you’re good to go for the most part.  Anchor pieces or focal points can make everything else get along when done right.  So if you answered B, C, D or E, they can all work when done correctly!  For example, picture the glass table but now add a rustic organic trough on top and you’ve got a winner! 

– Lorele