Mixing ElementsWhen homeowners haven't given much thought to how they'll put a room together, or they're living with a decade's worth of haphazardly collected furniture, it's common to hear them joke about having an eclectic style. But in terms of interior design, "eclectic" doesn't mean "unfocused" or "random." It means linking unexpected design elements and incorporating fun, funky or even outrageous items in visually cohesive ways.
"I see 'eclectic' as more of an old-meets-new mentality," says designer Erinn Valencich, owner of OmniArte Design in Los Angeles. "I like to mix modern and traditional elements in my designs. The kitchen is the heart of the home, and more and more people are turning to a cleaner, more updated kitchen, even if the rest of the home stays very traditional."
Unifying With ColorIn creating an eclectic kitchen, it's especially important to find a common design thread among the items you incorporate. Because the kitchen often serves as the family’s activity hub, it tends to collect extra clutter. If your design is incoherent, the result can be chaos. On the other hand, going eclectic can be a supremely fun and creative challenge. Coming up with a distinctive design that works visually and celebrates your varied personal tastes can be quite satisfying.
Looking for a way to link disparate items? Color can be a great unifier. If, for example, you like to mix and match dinnerware made of different materials or from different time periods, linking the pieces with a single color (neutral tones are easiest) can have a pleasing effect.
Getting the LookYou can achieve an eclectic look in your kitchen with small additions or major changes. Valencich offers her ideas for adding unusual touches to ordinary kitchens:
Start with one item you love and build a design around it. "There are so many choices these days in materials, colors and finishes that sometimes you just need to pick something and start!" Valencich says. "Maybe it’s a tile, or a beautiful piece of stone for a countertop." Or perhaps you have a collection of unusual items you’d like to show off. Take that single element and consider its texture, color, style and era to find accessories and finishes that complement it. Don’t be afraid to choose companion items from a different decade or design style as long as you find a common thread.
Break a rule. Why, for example, should your cabinets be identical? "In the kitchen, I never like to have all the cabinets the same color," Valencich says. "One of my favorite looks is an update on a nautical theme, and I’m in the midst of redesigning my own kitchen in that style. I’m painting the lower cabinets navy and the upper cabinets a high-gloss white."
Fine WorkmanshipMix old-fashioned hardware with thoroughly modern surfaces. Valencich's new kitchen is clean and contemporary, but her hardware is traditional. "I’m using ROHL's Perrin & Rowe line," she says. "The mix of a classic faucet with clean cabinets is a great illustration of an eclectic design." Valencich also likes using classic lighting in a contemporary setting. "An elegant chandelier can give a stunning and unexpected look to a contemporary kitchen," she says.
Choose a simple backdrop for a showstopping focus piece. Against her spare, nautical background decor, Valencich plans to install what she calls her "crown jewel." It's a wall covered in Erin Adams offset mirror mosaic tile from Ann Sacks. "It's truly the coolest thing," she says. "I’m going to cover the wall surrounding the French doors to the dining room in it. I love using mirrors wherever possible as it doubles the size of the space."