Tips for Mixing Decorating Styles From An Interior Designer

Have you ever been in a home and felt like you were in a showroom for a specific store? This has happened to me more times that I care to remember, maybe because I am acutely aware of who sells what due to the nature of my profession as an interior designer. Whether it’s Pottery Barn, Design Within Reach, or Restoration Hardware, most chain home stores have a very specific style and it is highly unlikely that this style will exactly fit your personality. So here are a few tips for mixing decorating styles in your home.

Tips for Mixing Decorating Styles

mixing home decorating styles modern lamp antique rug contemporary drink cart fountain of 30

What Is Eclectic?

Most people’s style is eclectic, a combination of styles put together in a way that is appealing to their unique eye. Don’t be afraid to mix styles, colors, and patterns when you are designing your space. If you are bringing in a piece and unsure it will work, try it in a neutral color. Something wildly modern in a more traditional space will not seem out of place if it has the same coloring as other pieces in the room.


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You want to have some aspect of each piece that unifies it to the space. If you favor a very clean, minimalist space but fall in love with an antique carved chair, then have it recovered in a more contemporary fabric. Try overdyed oriental rugs to mix it up in your home. They have become very popular by offering an updated look to an old world item. The shapes and patterns are very familiar to us but the single dyed color brings it into a completely different generation.

Make It Personal

Do you remember the “Friends” episode called “The One With The Apothecary Table?” Rachel is living with Phoebe and buys a new cocktail table at Pottery Barn only to find out that Phoebe hates Pottery Barn because they are unoriginal. She makes up a story about finding it at the flea market and Phoebe is so happy. By the end of the episode Rachel has filled the house with Pottery Barn pieces and in the final scene they walk past the shop to see a complete replica of their living room in the shop window. It is hilarious and depressing all at once.

Inexpensive mass production has taken a lot of originality out of people’s design esthetic and the resident’s personality does not show through in their home. Whether your space is traditional, transitional, modern, glamorous, or mid-century modern it should express who you are and how you live your life. In this fast-paced world we need to be able to come into our homes and feel welcome and at peace. This means a lot of different things to different people so it is probably not possible to go to a single source to decorate your entire house.

You can start with something small such as changing the knobs on your kitchen cabinets or on a dresser. Slowly move on to small pieces of furniture like a bar cart or cocktail table. Eventually you will be comfortable combining a wide range of home design styles in the same space.

Color Outside the Lines

Artwork should be personal and is a simple way to make your space your own. Shop on the streets when you travel or at resale shops and flea markets near home. Auctions are a fantastic place to curate your collection because the prices stay pretty low unless the artist is famous. These pieces are often well framed as well, saving a considerable amount of money. Don’t think of art as just paintings either. Frame your favorite scarf or hang a rug on the wall. Or invest in a stand-out light fixture that doubles as a work of art.

Shop Mixed Decorating Styles for Your Home

Pictured above:

Tryphosa Bar Cart, now $166.99

Kartell Bourgie Lamp, $815

Etsy Highland Hardware Large Scarf Frame (32″-36″), $333

Distressed Arabesque Wool Rug, $149 – $1,424

Etsy Great Finds Crafts 8 White Rose Knobs Ceramic, $20.99

Etsy Erin Lane Estate Pair of Louis XVI Style Painted Fauteuil Armchairs, $1500

The most important takeaway is that you fill your home with your personality. It will bring you peace and make your guests feel like they are being invited to a special place and seeing what makes you unique.


You may also like to read more home design expert tips from Madeleine like Teal vs Turquoise: Adding This Hot Color Trend To Your Home Decor and How To Brighten Up Your Home For Spring In A Snap!

Madeleine is an Interior Designer and founder of Madeleine Donovan Interiors. Visit and on Facebook @mdichicago.

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8 thoughts on “Tips for Mixing Decorating Styles From An Interior Designer”

  1. AMEN! Great tips!! I feel uncomfortable in a home that I know a designer has curated. I have a sister who is an artist and I am fortunate to have my home is full of her paintings. The art comes first not the colors matching in my sofa or cushions.

  2. I love to use pieces that I have collected when I travel, but I can’t stand a cluttered look so I am very minimal. I”m not very good at mixing colors & patterns but love it.

  3. Excellent advice. I also don’t like rooms that appear to be decorated for show and not actual living. My style is an eclectic combination of elegant Italian, comfortable lodge, rustic farm girl, and Texas cowboy.


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