styles mix, What's your decorating style and how to make it work

How to mix styles you love AND pull it off like a pro.

(Picture via Pinterest)

I don’t know about you, but I dread that question.

What’s your style? It’s so hard. First of all, it’s a weird mix of things, and then it morphs and grows all the time.  I look at my house now, and I think back to my first apartment. Wow, is it even the same person?

I was too lazy to go down to the basement to go through my albums to find a picture of my first apartment. This was all I had on file

I try not to think particularly hard about my style – when I’m working with a client it’s not about me in anyway – it’s about finding the character and aesthetic of the people who will live in the space, and then guiding them towards a space that will make music for them in the end.

However, I stumbled upon this online test by Emily Henderson about how to Find your Style, and I was curious.

It was a fun little exwercise, but I’m not entirely convinced of the outcome, and Emily herself admits that it’s not 100% accurate.

Thing is, our style is a unique tapestry of experiences and influences, bits of thread picked up along the way and added to the warp. It continues to evolve and often spans different styles.

Unless you’re a purist, it’s almost impossible to put it in a box and wrap it up with a label.

Emily does suggest, however, that you pair your style with its opposite on her style wheel. Now that is where I start to pay attention. Opposites attract, so mixing contrasting styles accentuates their differences and that’s when you get stopped in your tracks.

Imagine for instance zen combined with shabby chic, or mid century modern with Victorian.

Barcelona chair next to antique chest of drawers and worn Persian rug

The contrast of the mid century modern chair placed next to the antique chest is striking and accentuates the characteristics in both source

Mixing styles is so much fun – it gives the room character and tells your story.

Frankly, there’s not much point in trying to figuring out exactly what your style is, it’s yours and it’s unique. What you SHOULD do, though, is to figure out how to successfully mix the things you love, and how to pull it together in a room.


Here’s a simplified guideline on how to do exactly that.

  • Provide a solid backbone

    The large surfaces of the room, the floor and walls in the background forms the binding factor for everything in the room. A large rug, and a continuous colour for the walls that picks up the undertones in the room.

style Mix different styles, a soid colour on the wall pull the space together

In this area the wall is painted in a solid grey that easily sits with all the pieces and ties the room together Source

  • Use repetition

    Colour is the common thread. Choose two colours – one solid base neutral, and an accent colour to weave through the room. For instance, pick a colour from the rug or a paining that you like and repeat it in small and medium items like a lamp base, a vase, a textured throw and scatters, a painting or even chair. Some solid items, and some with patterns or stripes.




style Mixed style living room with traditional and contemporary furniture

The blue in carpet is lifted out and repeated in the scatter cushion and drapes to tie this mix of furniture together Source


Living room with blue and green accent colours picked up from the rug

Living room with blue and green accent colours picked up from the rug Source

  • Choose your anchor piece

    If you have a mix of items in different period styles and materials, you need one large solid piece that is prominent in the room that will quiet the motions. This is the peace maker. In the living room, mostly the sofa is that piece. Choose it well  because visually it takes up a large chunk of the space, and you are not likely to replace it often. Classic lines, quality fabric and good proportions – that’s what you’re looking for.

Mixed styles Elegant living room with pale sofa against dark walls

With a mixture of styles in this living room the sofa is in a solid pale colour and becomes the focal point in the room Source

In conclusion, don’t puzzle over your style too much, be bold and experiment with mixing different things that you like.

O, and one last thing – don’t go completely crazy. There is a fine line between a collected layered look and a random mess that’s distracting. Don’t fall in the trap of ‘everything goes’, be selective and combine your choices with thought.

Always choose things you love and that are dear to you.

I will end with these words form Jesse Carrier and Miller in their book Carrier and Company: Positively Chic Interiors“): “Decorating is, and always has been, all about the mix. Unexpected choices in scale, material or placement, a daring use of bold color or finish, may arrest the eye and stop time.”

To sum it up

  • Provide a solid background. Paint the walls in a colour that ties everything together.
  • Use repetition. Pick a colour that runs through the room and repeat it in solids and pattern.
  • Choose your anchor piece. You need one large solid piece to draw you in and quiet you down.
  • Be selective. Just because it’s ok to mix styles doesn’t mean ‘everything goes’.

If you want to make the right choices form the start AND love your space, contact me for an online or in-person consultation.

If you liked this post, or found something interesting, share it with someone.


Now tell me more

What’s your biggest frustration when it comes to pulling your space together?

What is your anchor piece? Does it draw you in and give you peace?

Do tell


You might also like…

How to make that odd piece of furniture more current to fit in with your style

How to choose the perfect sofa

Now go experiment with styles, and keep weaving your style tapestry


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how to mix styles like a pro

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