design ramblings | eclectic style

Marian ParsonsDecorating, Design Ramblings19 Comments

In this episode of Design Ramblings, Kriste and I answered a viewer/reader question about the challenge of decorating when you love a variety of styles…

I am, admittedly, not very eclectic.  I like and appreciate other styles, but not for my house.  I think the most out-on-a-limb I get is the industrial cart I use as a coffee table in my living room…


I just love old things and that is reflected in all of my furniture, fabrics and accessories.  Whenever I stray from that, like with geometric fabric or a piece with modern lines, it doesn’t sit well with me and it never lasts long!

As I said in the video, I really do think it’s an art to balance styles that contrast.  It can end up looking like a bad thrift store or college dorm arrangement pretty quickly if you’re not careful.  Here are some bloggers/designers who I think do eclectic style very well…

“The Nester” of The Nesting Place definitely has an eclectic use-what-you-have approach to decorating and I love how her spaces look.  They’re always stylish, but not too serious, and never boring.  I feel like I have to look at her spaces for a few minutes to discover all of the moments hidden within.  Her blog is a great one to check out to see how her style evolved from more traditional to what she calls “cozy minimalism”.


photo via The Nesting Place


Jeanne Oliver of Jeanne Oliver Designs is an example of someone who uses mostly antiques/farmhouse/flea market pieces, but has a few surprises mixed in.  Notice the modern lamp on the left, the velvet gold chair that feels more 1950’s and the industrial coffee table?


photo via Jeanne Oliver Designs


Michael of Inspired by Charm leans more modern, but has some farmhouse/antique/transitional elements as well.  His home is very traditional in style, but his furnishings take it in a different direction.  It’s balanced, though, so the decorating choices don’t look out of place against the symmetrical built-ins and ornate fireplace.


photo via Inspired by Charm


Cassie from Primitive and Proper is basically a professional thrift store shopper, but you wouldn’t guess if from her home.  Her style is an excellent example of collecting things you love that may not “match” and making them work together in a cohesive design.


photo via Primitive & Proper


I think Ashley & Jamin from The Handmade Home can pull off just about any mix of furniture and styles.  In this one shot, there is a modern coffee table, a primitive trunk, a chesterfield sofa, an empire sofa, geometric rug…get the idea?  And doesn’t it all look great together?  They’re also masterful at mixing a lot of colors without things getting too crazy looking.  Their spaces always look playful, yet put together.


Photo via The Handmade Home


Lastly, I want to showcase Loi from Tone on Tone.  He mostly uses fine European antiques in his spaces, but every once in a while, he sneaks in a modern piece and it always surprises me how nice it looks.  His work shows that sometimes unexpected pairings bring more decorating impact to a room than sticking with the same old thing.

mid century lucite table

Photo via Tone on Tone


One thing I noticed in all of these spaces were the neutral elements.  Each of these examples had a neutral wall color and/or large pieces of furniture as a “base”, so their eclectic finds could be showcased.  If everything was a big, bold choice, the rooms wouldn’t look as cohesive.

So, Delores (and everyone else), I hope that gets your creative juices flowing when it comes to blending all of the decorating styles you love!

design ramblings | eclectic style

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19 Comments on “design ramblings | eclectic style”

  1. I’m wondering what your thoughts are on having a separate room that’s behind a closed door (like a guest room, bedroom, basement, etc) in a totally different style than the rest of your house. For example, someone’s house is cottage/industrial, but their own bedroom is 100% modern. Is that too jarring? Does one’s whole house have to be cohesive in style? I’m even thinking about one’s color scheme. Can someone have completely different colors that don’t look good with the main colors in a house, but have them in hidden rooms?

    1. Oh yeah! I think that’s a great way to branch out to different styles. You could have something in common with the rest of the house, like the color scheme, wall color, flooring, etc.

    2. My home is furnished almost entirely with Victorian antiques I have collected throughout my lifetime. I joke that I “inherited my furniture from my great-grandparents,” since it is so much older than my Craftsman-era house. However, I have another passion: folk art. I worked for years editing foreign scientists’ manuscripts & was the recipient of many, many lovely decorative folk art items from their various countries. Add to that the folk-art items I collected myself, first living abroad & then on the Mexican border. I love them all. What to do? I decided my large “studio” (actually my den — my house was formerly owned by an artist) would be my “folk art room.” My flokati rug, framed Oktoberfest posters, antique serapés, Mexican tin & clay objects, Guatemalan weavings, etc., cover the walls in that room. I have used neutral colors for upholstery, walls, and curtains. Furniture is a combination of classic (flea market finds, reupholstered) & antiques from Germany. I’m sure it is a bit “out there” for some, but I love it.

  2. I love your ‘set’! It makes so much sense in the context of this blog and frames you both beautifully. This set has a lot of depth, reflects your style, is populated with things you love, and oh-so-subtly promotes your line of milk paint products. Really very nice! Great job!

  3. Thanks for the ramble ladies!:) I would send you a photo but we live above our garage while the house is being built! Right now our style is “put it where it fits”!

    We have a blank palette and a basement full of possibilities but I know our bedroom will be white and yellow as I was the lucky winner of the Pine Cone Hill linens! One less room to think about!:)

  4. Great topic, ladies! I am still struggling with decor in my “public” rooms. I have a lot of heavy darkish antique pieces in my small living and dining rooms and I love each one but decorating around them is a nightmare. My intuition says, “Keep it simple and light-colored.” Okay, but I have a medium grey couch–traditional design–a pale green and ivory wing chair w/foot stool in the same fabric, a not-vintage platform rocker with solid medium blue cushions and an antique wooden rocker with a cushion in the same blue. The area rug is a light sage with a floral border in shades of green and rose. Just looks like a boring mish-mash of furniture. Oh, I left out the little pink, upholstered club chair with mismatched grey foot stool that the dog believes is his, although he has occasionally deferred to the elder cat who thinks everything belongs to her!

    Well, I diverge. One thing I do embrace is the “specialty room”. I think that it can be public or private–whatever one is comfortable with. Mine is my office which I have designated the “Southwestern Room.” I have always been drawn to the Spanish, Mexican and Native American cultures, but I couldn’t live in a whole house based on those cultures. So, I have my art and artifacts, colors, designs, etc. from them gathered together in my office. I love seeing everything when I am in that room. The walls are a soft grey and the area rug has shades of grey, beige, blue, and terra cotta in a native design. It’s not all perfect yet, but I like it anyway and when I’m in the rest of the house I know it’s there. I am very comfortable sharing it with whoever wants to enjoy it.

    Thanks, Marian and Kriste for addressing the topic of “mix and match”!

  5. Believe in or not, it’s taken me until around 50 (!) when I finally loved my home completely. Now, I have no need to change the look, which is part family heirlooms, part estate sale and part fine and not-so-fine new home furnishings. I love this time in life, for so many reasons, including the home I really love!

  6. Great ramble today! I am an eclectic decorator as well and appreciate that Kriste recognizes the eclectic soul! The shirt, while very nice, doesn’t work for you as well as others I have seen you wear. You are too young and beautiful for that style and print. 🙂

  7. Your setting for the Design Ramblings is perfect. Muted background with interesting objects. I think this setting is by far your best. I would say my style is eclectic and honestly I love it! Treasures from my childhood, antiques from my mother and everything in between. I feel my home is a collection of memories and not just something taken off the furniture showroom. BTW, I adore the two of you and you compliment each other’s personality. Continue your excellent advice!

    1. I don’t consider myself and eclectic, but thought this design ramblings was great, loved the other bloggers/styles you features! I also love this new spot/set for your clip! Great colors and use of space! Totally you!

  8. So awesome to be included here! Thank you, Marian. Great episode. You ladies rock!!

    As I get older and travel more, I tend to be a little eclectic. I think having something unexpected can be very refreshing.


  9. You two are too cute! I just love hearing your design ramblings. I listened to this while putting around my house rearranging things and cleaning I even made the volume as high as I could, and ran upstairs.

    It was like you girls were in my kitchen chatting!

    Thanks for being you!

  10. I love your design ramblings and appreciate your insights on decorating. Totally off the wall question, I love the jars in your backdrop of this weeks video. Where are they from?

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