Eclecticism is the secret to home ‘design remix’
By Mimi Novak
Do you wistfully dream about getting a home makeover any time your remote is glued to the Home & Garden Television station?
Taking on such a project can be overwhelming, but don’t fret. I’ve scouted our local Goodwill stores and chatted with some interior designers who shared their secrets about blending the old and new to give your home a “design remix.”
“Eclectic is what’s happening right now, and it’s very doable,” explains Kathy Billeci, a Bay Area antiques dealer.
This cool approach shows that items from different eras — from the Victorian Age and the 1970s — can co-exist in dazzling harmony.
Turns out, your poodle skirt-era wrought-iron dining set can sit next to your turn-of-the-century wooden side table without raising an eyebrow. These days, almost anything goes in the world of home décor, and any era can be safely mixed with any other.
“If you watch HGTV, they do it all the time,” Billeci says. “They even decorate older homes using modern furniture and fixtures, and it looks fabulous!”
This vintage-inspired decorating phenomenon is shaking up a home near you, and it’s spreading like buttermilk-colored paint.
Olga Alvarado of Amorosa Antique & Floral notes: “Every era is now mixed together, and it’s very eclectic with a very vintage feel.”
When thrifting, look for items that will bring a compatible mix of vintage and au courant flavors to your home, from faded green ‘40s dressers reminiscent of Grandma’s closet to antique-style (read: reproduction) accent pieces like Moss Rose ceramic tea sets. It seems the best way to mix vintage with modern pieces is to use a little imagination so that they can all blend mellifluously.
But recognizing authentic antique pieces from the reproductions can be as daunting as finding someone who still wears animal furs, especially now that companies are reproducing everything from fabric to furniture.
“Even old buckets are being reproduced with holes in them to give them an older feel,” Alvarado says with a chuckle.
It’s not just the inside of our homes that are going retro, either. Rustic metal gates, wrought-iron salvage pieces and French country-inspired garden ornaments are quite popular and will transform your indoors or outdoors from blah to beautiful.
So why this bow to the past when it comes to decorating our homes and gardens?
One need only visit your nearest thrift store, antique store or flea market. The answer may be found in our longing for a slower, simpler lifestyle.
The eclectic style, with its fascinating amalgam of old and new, is all about being whimsical and unafraid to integrate one-of-a-kind pieces to any room that will add character. And finding that unique treasure piece to complement your personal style – at a fabulous price – is what the joy of thrifting is all about, isn’t it?
EMBRACING THE ECLECTIC
• Mix and match colors, patterns and textures, like gathering a cluster of well-worn velvet and brocade pillows and arranging them on a distressed wooden bench or chair.
• Use items in ways other than their originally intended, like stacking vintage suitcases to create a fun side table, hanging a stained glass window from an architectural salvage yard above your bed for a unique headboard, or turning a vintage 1950s hair dryer into a reading lamp.
• Use what you already have, but shift it around slightly or paint it or stain it a different color, and remember to be whimsical in your design choices.
• Use all five senses when arranging furniture, painting and displaying collectibles, and remember to have some fun!