Recently, a good friend of mine with a similar design background brought up a point that got me thinking. She was visiting our house for the first time and during the obligatory house tour she said something along the lines of “I’m trying to figure out your style.” After a brief back and forth, we came to the conclusion that the style of my current home was a little bit contemporary, a little bit rustic and a whole lot of in between. This came as no shock to me. I’m a big fan of mixing design styles and think that’s how you can truly create a space that feels dynamic and interesting and I’m fully aware of the blending of styles in my own home, but the conversation got me thinking a little bit deeper about the why.
While some of the mixing of design styles is intentional, some of it also comes by necessity. At this point, I’m in house #2 of my adulthood (we’re not going to count the college apartment that made my mother cry…) and like many other 20-somethings, I’m slowly acquiring a household full of meaningful and long lasting pieces but am certainly not in the position to go out and furnish an entire house. Nor would I really want to for that matter.
While we have added a few new pieces here and there to this house, much of what we had came from our previous house, one with a very distinctly different style. Some of what worked perfectly there gets a fresh new perspective here, while some of it just isn’t quite suited to the shape, size, and style of this house. The challenge now is blending those different elements in a way that not only feels intentional but also feel right for the bones of this house.
Our big living room is one of the spaces that I’ve struggled with the most in terms of mixing styles and combining old with new. In general, the room is much larger than our old living room and the pieces that were chosen for the previous space aren’t pieces that I would have chosen starting fresh in this room. The room also has it’s own unique attributes that make furnishing it a challenge. The elements that make the space really special (like the full walls of windows, two doorways, and brick wall) also make things like furniture selection, scale, and layout pretty challenging.
For example, the fun mid-century coffee table that I loved so much in our 1st house just isn’t right in here. It’s too small for the space and the style just isn’t right in this room. And as much as I love our current sofa (and will find a spot for it in our home for as long as it lives), this long rectangular space screams for a big lounge-y sectional or sofa with a chaise. At this point, I have nailed down the layout that I know will work and it’s just a matter of finding the right pieces over time. The purchases that I do make moving forward, will be made with that vision in mind in terms of size, shape, color, etc. When there is a goal at the end, it makes purchasing piece by piece a little bit easier.
The aforementioned friend and I also talked a bit about purchasing quality over quantity at this phase of our lives and agreed that the buy what you can for as cheap as you can as fast as you can phase is where we find ourselves moving away from. This living room currently houses some quality pieces that will remain in the space but the search for permanent replacements for other items will take time and those future purchases will be made with the intention of longevity. As tempting as it is to replace the items that you know just don’t work, chances are those impulse buys and quick fixes will be the ones that need replacing before long. Patience is so annoying, I know.
Do I love the combination of different styles in my home? Yes! I think it makes it feel young and fresh and fun. Are there changes that I’d like to make in many different spaces? Of course! But the time and energy that you put into making your space feel just right, piece by piece, is a big part of what makes your house feel like a home, don’t you think? When you can look around the room and remember where you bought this or why you bought that, what a deal you got on that thing or the pile of treasures you dug that out from under, and relive the excitement of the hunt, that’s what makes is special.
So back to the main point (which was what exactly? Stop rambling, Maggie!) when it comes to mixing design styles, sometimes we do it by choice, sometimes we do it by necessity, and often times it’s a little of both. A few tips on making purchases and adding pieces to a mixture of design styles, you ask? Don’t mind if I do…
- Purchase quality pieces with intention. As tempting as it is to replace something that isn’t working immediately, impulse buys are often the ones that need replacing right away.
- Purchase what you love. Mixing design styles can seem daunting, but chances are if you simply buy things that you love and that speak to you, they will all end up working together to create a space that you’re obsessed with.
- Pick a color scheme and stick to it. In order to make a collection of different styles feel cohesive, stick to a strict color palette. This will be the thread that sews it all together and makes the space feel intentional.
- Have a goal in mind. When you have an idea of what you want in the end, this makes purchasing piece by piece a bit less daunting. This doesn’t mean you have a concrete plan of exactly what you want and where you want it, but having a general idea of how you want the space to feel allows you to work towards a goal. This will help different purchases that are made over time work together in the end.