Can You Mix Design Styles?
Updated: Mar 15
Create a Multipurpose Room that’s a Magnificent Blend of Old and New
Happy New Year friends! I never know when it’s appropriate to stop saying Happy New Year. However, since my last blog post went up at the tail end of 2021, the cordial thing to do, is wish you all well in the new year as I kick-off this year’s blog posts.
Today, I thought I’d tackle a question I hear a lot in design…Can you mix design styles? The resounding answer is YES!!! In fact, I would argue that most spaces in a home (if not all) are an eclectic mix of styles. Why? Because as humans we are drawn to (and tend to appreciate) a vast array of things. As always, I'll use a project I just finished as a use case to emphasize this point.
The room in question is what I would coin a “multipurpose room.” It is meant to:
Serve as a formal sitting room (where my husband and I can entertain guests),
Be my office (where I can perform my day job),
Function as a creative space (where I can explore various facets of design), and
Be kid friendly (the room is open to other spaces, so keeping the kiddos away isn’t an option).
With the function of the room clearly defined, it was easy for me to move on to the next phase of the design process. This included, creating zones (aka layout), honing-in on the design styles I liked, and pulling décor pieces together. Since this post is about mixing styles, I’ll focus on the latter two points, and share details on how to get a well styled and organized room in the ODD tips below.
I can already imagine you asking… “ok, so how do I identify my design style?” And to that I say, there really isn’t a special tool. Your design style simply put, is influenced by your past, your present, how you would like your space to look & feel, and the people living with you. Let me be more specific:
My husband and I grew up in homes with very traditional furniture most of which were handmade – so, naturally, we are drawn to wood, vintage, and antique pieces (our past).
We currently live in a colonial style home with some ornate details – we are not about to fight the architecture, so we work with it (our present).
Despite our love for traditional elements, we like bright, airy, and neat spaces – reminiscent of Scandinavian or Japanese design (how we like our spaces to look & feel).
We have two kids under 10, and my husband likes industrial style pieces – so the design has to be practical and include some metal details (people living with you).
See my point?
So, as you can tell from the bullets above, the room needed to have some traditional, industrial, and Scandinavian design elements, but more importantly, it had to be functional. That’s where the décor came into play. I,
Sourced antique pieces from Facebook marketplace (e.g., a 100yr old mirror - it's been around for years, and going nowhere anytime soon),
Selected pieces that could be cleaned easily (e.g., the leather office chair can be wiped down, while the sofa and accent chairs have fabric that can be removed and thrown into the wash) . Side note, the accent chairs are actually outdoor furniture, but you wouldn't know - right????
Purchased furniture with clean lines (Ikea sofa), and natural materials (wooden accent chairs),
Punctuated the room with a black metal piece (e.g., smoked glass coffee table from Ikea), and
Threw in a couple of accessories while keeping the overall color palette light and airy.
I hope this inspires you to mix the styles you love.
ODD Tips for Designing a Multipurpose Room
Have a budget and try sticking to it as best you can.
Define how the space will be used – due to the entertaining aspect of my space, having a stocked bar cart was key, that way, my guests can serve themselves.
Measure the room so you know what size furniture will fit.
Have storage solutions for things that aren’t visually pleasing – I have a marble box that houses pens, a little ceramic vase that’s a home for matches, and a basket for blankets.
Layout the room the way you would want to use it – allow for adequate flow between furniture pieces so the space doesn’t look cluttered.
Hone-in on your design style – this will go a long way in helping you pick out your décor pieces and room accessories.
Have a cohesive color palette – your color tones should complement each other. Combining neutral colors (light green and whites) with brown tones, give the room an airy feel with a hint of cozy.
Be strategic with your lighting – I have recess lights that are on the brighter side, but my floor and table lamps give off warmer light which adds to that cozy factor, especially in the evening.
Break some design rules – don’t be afraid to add something unusual as long as there’s cohesion (notice the massive black coffee table and the yellow chairs, see a pattern between the two pieces?)
Display art pieces you love – lean your art for a more casual look, or hang it on the wall for a more formal look.
Style your coffee table – whatever you do, never have a bare coffee table. Style it with your favorite books, or at the very least place a simple vase with flowers on it.
Infuse some natural elements – That could be water or in my case I love to have plants and flowers in a room, gives the room some life.
Accessorize with pillows and blankets for a more cozy, lived-in feel.
Create one or two vignettes - a small grouping of several objects that form a pretty picture.