4 Practical Tips That Will Have You Mixing Decor Styles With Confidence

If you ever believed any of the following about decorating you’re dead wrong…

  • Everything has to match.
  • I can’t add that to my decor cause it doesn’t go with my current style.
  • Lots of little accessories are the perfect way to fill a space.
  • I don’t love the large built-in in my living room, but there’s nothing I can do about it to make it make sense in the space

The best, most comfortable, and beautiful spaces actually mix many different styles but it’s done in a way that makes sense to your eye and your senses. It doesn’t leave you questioning why or how something ended up in the space.

But how do you mix decorating styles without going too far in any one style direction or without playing it too safe?

Well, lucky you. That’s what we’re talking about today and I’ve got 4 simple tips that will having you mixing styles like a pro and will hopefully get you out of the rut you’re in and into a the creative decorating flow you’ve been craving.

–And just a quick FYI– if finding your style and really understanding how to create a cohesive look in your home is something that you really want to learn to do, enrollment for my course, Style Your Way Home opens up a few times a year and first priority for available seats go to those on the waiting list. If that sounds like you, you can check out a few details of the course right here and get on the waiting list.

4 practical tips that will have you mixing home decor styles with confidence

These are the things I hear from readers all the time…

I have a lot of stuff that doesn’t match.

or

My husband and I have completely different taste.

Matching is not essential to beautiful home decor, in fact it is down right boring.

So stop stressing about having things match and let’s come up with some clever ways to make the things you love work well together to create a beautiful layered and interesting home that reflects who you (guys) are and tells your story!

If you take away anything from this entire series, I want it to be this…

It is possible to have more than one style present in a home and actually it is really important to do so because it creates a ton of interest and ends up telling the story of everyone who lives there.

If you love florals and the hubs loves texture, you have to find a way to weave the two together in a way that makes sense and doesn’t make one person feel like they are living in someone else’s home. Hard to do, I know. Especially when your style is far superior to your spouse’s -kidding, maybe not.

How to blend more than one decorating style.

First let’s talk about a few go to “rules” that will help you along. -But keep in mind, any decorating rule, can be broken.

If you are anything like me, you want to play it safe to some extent. Since in the real world there are things like budgets and livability to consider -we are not preparing for a magazine photo shoot here. But since we care a lot about our home and the decor that essentially tells our story, we want it to be unique to us and our families. Am I right?

In other words, we are looking for ways to bring it all together in an interesting way, or take it up a notch to make it feel perfectly us.

These rules will help you get there because they embrace the idea that not everything has to match.

tip #1 | The 80/20 rule

That is a ratio rule and it is a perfect place to start. It pretty much means that you need to choose a main character and a supporting character. And in this case those characters are the styles you are after.

Remember last week when we took the style we had discovered and turned it into a definition? We had a feeling and then 2 (very broad) styles in our definition.

Those will be your 80 and your 20. The main style will be represented in 80% of the space, and the other 20% will be the other style.

I suggest that you start by looking at the big ticket or larger items in the room (the ones that would be hard to replace) and let those be your 80%.

For example. My home decor style definition is comfortable-modern-traditional. So for the larger ticket items in my home I’m going to look for elements of modern.

This makes total sense in my home.

mixing home decor styles

As I’ve been writing this series, I’ve also been working on refreshing my family room to reflect more of my ever evolving style… let’s take a look as an example.

In my family room my sofa and the occasional chair have square arms (clean lines,) the rug has a lot of geometric pattern, and the coffee table is even a mid-century modern remake. The colors are mostly grey and a muted blue with just a few pops of color here and there.

The traditional elements come in with the floor to ceiling curtain panels, a lot of white painted furniture and cabinetry with just a little bit of detail on the doors. I also have a good amount of accessories (which super modern homes don’t have) but most of them have an element of geometric and clean lines.

I’ve had my home decor described to me by friends as modern, but not cold. Perfect!

That is exactly what I’m going for! About 80% of the space has modern elements and the other 20% (the part that warms it up and makes it feel comfortable) hints at traditional decor.

tip #2 | Group Like Items: different but the same is key

I grew up in the 80’s. On any given day my hair scrunchie matched my colored jean shorts, which matched my keds. My mom (who has amazing taste) had a floral couch and love seat in our front room and a valance over the windows in the exact same print.
The 80’s made us think that everything had to match. But it doesn’t.

Predictable is out and so is being too matchy-matchy. Things don’t need to match, they need to go and they can go together in a lot of different ways.

A great way to tie unlike items together is by finding something they do have in common and grouping them together. You can group things by color, size, and texture and by displaying them together you create a collection -which has more impact and makes more sense than if each item was displayed on its own. This works especially well with small items.

group like items together for impact in your home decor

sources: 1, 2, 3

1- Items on a dresser can often be a bit random, but keeping them all the same color makes it look like everything goes together.

2- This coffee table is perfect. Everything is unified by height. Even the smaller items relate because they are placed on top of the stacked books.

3- Each shelf on the back wall is styled individually. The top shelf has larger items, on the middle shelf everything is about the same size and clear glass, and on the bottom shelf items are grouped together too.

If you have a collection, instead of spreading the collection throughout the room, group them together for bigger impact.

group items together as a collection for more impact

sources: 1, 2, 3

RELATED: HOME STYLING INSPIRATION ON PINTEREST

tip #3 | Understand Balance

Balance needs to happen in a few different ways.

First your space needs to have equally distributed visual weight. For example, in the image below this open concept room is separated by the sofa. The visual weight of the book shelf in the dining area is balanced by the wall art in the living room area.

visual balance

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You also need to have the style balanced throughout your space.

If hubby is into rustic and you have him put all of his nods to rustic decor in one area of the room, it is not going to blend into the room well. Instead if you have those rustic items placed throughout the room (or in at least 2 places,) the space will feel balanced and the decor will come across as intentional.

Think of it this way. Everything in your room needs a buddy.

Look at this fabulous living room (below) designed by the amazing Emily Henderson and her team.

What I like about this space is that someone actually lives here. Notice how your eye bounces around the room so easily. Nothing matches per se, but it all goes together so well and feels cozy and like it has evolved.

Everything has a buddy.

  • the wood tone on the side table is repeated on the coffee table tray and ties into the dining room chairs.
  • The color of the side chair goes with the pillow and the lamp shade.
  • The frames don’t match, but they each have a buddy that shares their color.
  • The darker blue is on the throw, the dining chairs, and in the painting.
  • The shape and size of the sofa and the side chair are the same.

BLUE-LIVING-ROOM2

mixing styles in your room

You’ve cleared out anything in your current work in progress room that isn’t going to stay and are ready to get to work planning how you are going to put it back together in a new way.

 

1. Start with neutrals.

Think of the large pieces in your space as the canvas that is going to showcase the story you are about to tell. Painting your walls a nice neutral and keeping the large pieces of furniture a neutral color (even if they have an element of style to them) will allow the other styles in your room to be showcased. Think of it as lessening the competition.

These large pieces will also most likely dictate your main style. For example if your largest furniture piece has elements of modern decor (like square arms) you will want to carry that style throughout by adding other modern elements.

2. Place your furniture first.

Start with the largest pieces and like we discussed earlier, keep in mind the rules of visual weight and scale.

For example if you are decorating your bedroom and don’t have matching nightstands, use different pieces on each side, but be sure they are of similar size.

mismatched nightstands

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The same rule applies to non matching end tables. In the example below they not only kept the scale the same, but also matched the shape.

grey-linen-roll-arm-sofa-mismatched-end-tables-brass-glass-floor-lamp

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In fact this room repeats the idea of visual balance with the lamps and the coffee table decor.

The lamps are different, but they are about the same height and have similar shaped shades.

The coffee table has the rounded flower arrangement which is balanced out by the gold decorative object.

Keep in mind as you play with balance though that traditional decor calls for a lot of symmetry, while modern decor often is asymmetrical.

 

3. Add in your accessories and details.

The hardest thing when it comes to mixing styles is probably when it comes to the accessories. Remember the rule, different but the same and group things together accordingly.

Mix the styles evenly throughout the room.

The best way to draw too much attention to one style is to group too many things of that style together. It throws everything off balance. Insetad split up your items and distribute them evenly throughtout the space.

Repetition is key.

To make sense of an item that may stand out like a sore thumb, repeat an element of that item in at least one other place in the room. (The buddy system we talked about earlier.)

For example, if you have a painting that has way more color than anything else in the space, try adding just a few minor touches of one of the main colors in other areas of the room to tie it all together and make it blend into the room. (Like the Emily Henderson living room above.)

tip #4 | Let the Odd Ball Be The Focal Point

If you have one element that is staying but doesn’t have anything in common with anything else in the space, make it a focal point and instead of competing, it will stand alone.

A perfect example would be a light fixture that is a different color or finish than anything else in the room, or maybe it is really big and much bigger in scale than the other elements you have going on in the room. That’s ok. Hang it up and let it be the show stopper!

Before we go, let’s look at a few rooms that do all of this mixing really well…

This room has both traditional and rustic elements and it looks really pulled together.

  • Even though there are different things on either side of the fireplace they are about the same size, the art balances out the TV, and the lamps are the same.
  • The sofas don’t match, but they are similar in color and size.
  • The raw wood is repeated on the coffee table and above the fireplace.

mixing traditional and rustic decor

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In this more formal living room there are elements of modern and traditional.

  • Traditional decor is usually very symmetrical, which this room is. Same cabinets on either side of the fireplace, matching sofas that face each other, and even the same branches in a vase flanking the fire place.
  • The clean lines of the sofas and the coffee table are a modern element.
  • The shots of high contrast black and white are modern, but pulling in the muted neutrals of greige make it more traditional.
  • The chandelier is a definite focal point and marries the 2 styles perfectly.

formal living room with balance

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I absolutely love this modern traditional kitchen!

The traditional elements like the crown molding on the cabinets, and the tufting on the sofa and the bench seat are so beautiful and play perfectly with the modern elements like the clear stools, the table, and the poppy colors.

modern traditional kitchen

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Hopefully you have a better understanding of your decorating style and what to start looking for when searching for inspiration so that you can start blending your home decor styles in a more intentional way.

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About Corey

Corey is the creative behind Hey There, Home where she shares easy-to-follow and beautiful home decor and entertaining ideas. Her mission? To make home decor accessible to everyone, even if you don’t consider yourself crafty, and to empower people to decorate their homes in a way that they can actually be lived in, not just looked at.

23 thoughts on “4 Practical Tips That Will Have You Mixing Decor Styles With Confidence

  1. Cameron Bennett says:

    I like that you mention that it’s good to have one main style that is accented by a supporting style. I’ve never considered myself that great at decorating, but now that I’m in a new home, I’d like to do better. I love knick-knacks and small decor items, so I want to be able to incorporate those into my home style.

    1. Corey Willis says:

      I’m so glad you’re finding inspiration here!

  2. Elsa Anderson says:

    I like how you mentioned that it can be quite effective to group unlikely items together with something in common, such as their color, size, or texture to make a display like feeling. That’s perfect since my fiance and I are just about to go out and purchase some home decors for our new home that would be mixing some Asian and modern theme together. Thanks for the helpful tips on how to mix decor styles with confidence!

    1. Corey Willis says:

      You’re so welcome, Elsa. Happy decor hunting!

  3. I liked your point about that one element that is staying but doesn’t have anything in common with anything else in the space! My husband and I are moving to another house soon and I’d love to do something unusual there mixing styles and making decorative accents. I hope our future house will be both stylish and original!

  4. S.CARIELLO says:

    Hello: I am trying to make some changes in my living room. I HAVE 2 UPHOLSTERED CHAIRS DESIGNED TO COORDINATE WITH MY SOFA, HOW EVER THEY ARE THE LESS EXPENSIVE PIECES FOR ME TO CHANGE. COULD I INCORPORATE WICKER CHAIRS AND USE A CUSHION TO PICK UP THE COLOR IN THE SOFA, I NEED HELP. I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO CHANGE THE TABLES AND ART WORK.

  5. I really like your 80/20 rule when collaborating between two styles. I’m not very good at coordinating multiple styles myself, but I wonder if your suggestion could make a big difference for me. I’ll be sure to try it out so my home decor can tie in together a little better.

    1. Corey Willis says:

      That’s awesome, Finley. Be sure you let us know how it works for you!

  6. When my husband and I married, I knew right away that we were going to have a conflict in styles. He is a minimalist preferring mid century modern, Danish, and Japanese style elements, to my rustic farmhouse, shabby chic industrial! Talk about contrasts! I would have loved this article in year one!!! So much great advice.

    I eventually went with a pared down version of rustic farmhouse with lots less clutter, while bringing in mid century modern vintage elements. Because we sell a lot of these kinds of items in our store, it just became an extension of who we are personally. And it works.

    It became a style we both can live with. I think I did more of a 70% 30% rule so I think maybe there is some room for improvement!

    Thanks for such a wonderful indepth article. Your blog is great!!!

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Thanks so much, Laura. Great to have you along as part of the Hey There Home family!

  7. I like that idea to use the 80/20 rule. 80% of the room should be one style and 20% should be the other. That works because a cornerstone of design is contrast- and one way you can create contrast is with quantities and proportions.

    1. Corey Willis says:

      I agree, Larry. Great observation!

  8. I do feel more confident to decorate my home, I just love the 80/20 rule. Thank you so much for these informations and tips! 😉

  9. Great Post…!
    I love Your post. Beautiful decoration ideas and tips. This is very helpful tips for my living room. You are so creative…

    Thanks for share Your Post….!

    1. Corey Willis says:

      You’re so welcome, Christina! I appreciate that!

  10. This is so important! I am getting ready to move in with my best friend and while we are close friends, we have very different styles and it’s going to be interesting to mix beach style with classic modern. But we will definitely consult your guide before we start planning. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  11. Joan Schlee says:

    Corey, I’m really enjoying your decorating blog! I’ve never followed anyone before and I just knew I’d enjoy yours and find many useful tips! Thank you for taking the time to do this 😄 I’m on vacation now, but “look out” when I get home! LOL
    Joan

    1. Hahaha. Thank you so much Joan. It makes my day to hear that you are finding it useful and inspiring. Love this “job” I’ve stumbled into 🙂

  12. Ursula says:

    Thank you for this fantastic post! Funny that I did not realize myself what is wrong with my living room. I have 100% modern right now in it. Now there will come the hard bit to add some traditional (which I like as well but my spouse does not – he is happy with 100% modern but believes that everyone elses living room is more lively and cozy than ours 🙂 ) and some more decoration (and colors)! I do hope that you will have more posts like this for us! They are so helpful!!

  13. “Especially when your style is far superior to your spouse’s -kidding, maybe not.” Lol! YES – that is why it is so hard! 😉 But seriously, this is a great post.

  14. Amazing tips and such a great foundation, Corey! I love this post!!

  15. Wow there are some fantastic tips and pieces of information in here! I’m trying to soak it all in because my taste and style is ever changing. Thanks for sharing such good ideas!

    Shonnee

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