weather icon Clear

Dos and don’ts in eclectic design

For decades, interior designers have been adding eclectic touches to rooms and tinkering with merging style elements that, on the surface, might seem too different to coexist in a home.

But today, adding traditional elements to contemporary clean, straight lines might be more of an expectation than a big risk. Regardless of whether you’re averse to trying your hand at eclectic design or are daring enough to throw wrenches into design threads throughout spaces in your house, designers shed light on some dos and don’ts when it comes to eclectic design choices.

Accent, don’t balance

Lee Bryan is the owner of Atlanta-based Lee Bryan Interior Design LLC. He has done work on model condominium units inside The Ogden, Juhl, One Las Vegas and Veer Tower. The designer emphasizes that going eclectic requires more accenting instead of trying to balance equal amounts of two styles.

“You can mix an antique picture in a contemporary home, but the focus is more as an accent piece versus a 50-50 blend. That never works well. It just looks like they’re fighting each other, or like you couldn’t make up your mind,” he said.

Bryan likes to incorporate a design element that ties elements together, too, such as a certain wall color throughout a home or a type of wood finish. You can branch off of that common element with a variety of accents from different eras.

“That thread helps it all seem less like a thrift store. It could be a wood character … upholstery, fabric,” he said.

Sarah Barnard, principal of Sarah Barnard Design in Los Angeles, advises clients to be aware of “cognitive overload.” Eclectic should come in touches, splashes, not in large pieces that overtake a room or compete with another aesthetic.

Minimalism as a base

When it comes to background color, a “neutral white space” can be the perfect base for eclectic accents or “curating a collection of exceptional objects,” Barnard said.

“Just as in a gallery setting, neutral walls recede and allow the unique attributes of the group to be appreciated. … I encourage my clients to display art collected from their travels along with heirloom family pieces. … Our homes are a portrait of sorts, reflecting where we’ve been, who and what we care about most,” she added.

Michele Aloe, Las Vegas showroom manager for tile and stone company Walker Zanger, sees the use of “elemental design,” a clean but tactile look found in this year’s New American Home series, as a good backdrop for eclectic accents.

In these settings, with lots of gray and a sense of being close to nature, her team might accent with turquoise or its Deep-sea Blue tiles. She has seen some homeowners use animal hides or prints as sharp contrasts.

“It’s a very clean line design, and all of a sudden you get something completely out of the box like that,” she said.

Unique spaces, gallery walls

Walker Zanger recently revealed four interior styles to watch for the coming year, one of which it coined “Nostalgic Maximalism.” The bold style embraces the eclectic and merges modern and retro feels, playfully combining colors, shapes like triangles and landscapes. Aloe describes it as a “large print format that’s extremely graphic with bold colors.” The expert appreciates how the style entirely pulls away from the whites and grays in current contemporary designs.

“It’s timeless and makes people feel good. … It’s a little more whimsical and not so serious,” she added.

Aloe said small spaces within a home are good for experimenting with an eclectic theme or just something different altogether.

“It doesn’t have to be completely themed, but you might want to have that space where you respect that journey you made to Asia,” she said. “Theaters are areas where people will do something different as well. They might have a popcorn machine with bar stools and unique countertops in a space to sit and watch the football game.”

Bryan also uses entryways for opportunities to create deliberate contrasts. He might put a secretary’s desk or an ornate console table from a different era there or a Venetian glass mirror, nodding to the past alongside contemporary flooring and trim.

Bryan also said gallery walls are a perfect place to add eclectic touches. You can easily mix in traditional art, photos and a variety of frame types from clean and simple to some with an older, more ornate look.

“This way it looks like you acquired things over time versus having it made to match. It’s more like a collection than a ready-made package,” he said.

Mid-mod, art deco, Arts and Crafts

Bryan said that a lot of midcentury modern furniture, which often uses maple wood, lends itself to being an eclectic accent in contemporary environments. He uses certain shapes in the furniture style, like the legs of a chair, for example, as consistent tie-ins throughout an interior or as accents in other spaces of a home.

For Barnard, Arts and Crafts homes, which were departures from Victorian industrialization, actually fit well with contemporary design or mid-mod furniture. Barnard doesn’t mind throwing in a dash of Victorian-era art as well.

“While the artistic movements may have fundamentally opposing design principles, they co-exist beautifully in modern life,” she said.

Bryan also likes to weave art-deco pieces into contemporary environments. Both have similar clean-line aesthetics, he said, while still distinguishing their eras. Gilded art pieces can work as stand-alones but do not try to blend furniture with a gilded look into a modern aesthetic. It’s just too large and conflicting, he added.

Have fun, be yourself

Ultimately, making eclectic design choices requires its share of rule-breaking.

“The greatest thread in the curation of eclectic interiors is joy,” Barnard said. “If the objects we surround ourselves with fill us with delight, they will inevitably be visually cohesive because they reflect our personal histories.”

There are no hard and fast rules about juxtaposition, she adds. “Often, the most unexpected combinations are the most delightful.”

Aloe offers a similar sentiment to these more daring design times.

“It seems like there aren’t any real rules anymore. People are kind of throwing everything together, wood, glass, metal, quartz, mixed with porcelain,” she said.

“If your home is what makes you happy, then OK. … A few years ago, everyone was building to sell, so the thinking was ‘what do people want to see so I can sell it?’ Now we’re getting more renovations. … You have to deal with what’s there. You have to be more forgiving in your style and allow that eclectic quality to be somewhat dictated by the original architecture of the home.”

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Central Perk coffee shop opens for business
As part of Saturday’s “Friends” Fan Experience at New York-New York hotel-casino, the artist Nathan Sawaya debuts his life-size, 700-square-foot re-creation of the show’s Central Perk coffee shop that’s constructed entirely out of Lego bricks. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Binion's debuts a spinning bar overlooking Fremont Street Experience
Binion's debuted its spinning bar inside the Whiskey Licker Up Saloon. The Rotating bar only goes at one full rotation per 15 minutes overlooking the Fremont Street Experience. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Green Eggs and Ham at Carson Kitchen in Las Vegas
Scott Simon, executive chef at Carson Kitchen in Las Vegas, makes a Green Eggs and Ham Flatbread with pistou, smoked mozzarella, tasso ham and eggs. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Lemon Semifreddo Dessert at Vetri Cucina in Las Vegas
Ashley Costa, pastry chef at Vetri Cucina at the Palms in Las Vegas, freezes lemon curd with whipped cream, sandwiches it between polenta-based crumiri cookies, sprinkles it with powdered sugar and drizzles it with argrumato, a lemon olive oil. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Hard Rock Memorabilia Exhibition
The 2,600-square-foot exhibit, which is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays to Mondays through Jan. 31, spans eras and genres alike. There are numerous rare and never-before-seen items here, featuring artists from ZZ Top to Nine Inch Nails, Bo Diddley to Britney Spears. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Museum of Selfies coming to Las Vegas - VIDEO
The interactive attraction offers several new selfie opportunities. (Museum of Selfies)
Show of Strength in 'A Choreographers Showcase' - VIDEO
"A Choreographers Showcase" pairs artists from Nevada Ballet Theater and staff from all facets of Cirque du Soleil to design an annual show. (Elizabeth Page Brumleyy/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
David Chang talks about what to expect at his new restaurant, Majordomo Meat & Fish - VIDEO
David Chang tells fans what to expect at his new restaurant, Majordomo Meat & Fish, at The Venetian on the Las Vegas Strip. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pink Lady and Rosey Mary cocktails at Therapy in Las Vegas
Terence Beach, bartender at Therapy restaurant in Las Vegas, makes original pink cocktails to benefit breast cancer research. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Torrijas dessert served at Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill in Las Vegas
Chef Christian Lee of Sugarcane at The Venetian in Las Vegas makes a dessert of torrijas, a Latin French toast, serving it with a caramelized-apple sauce and cinnamon ice cream. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
David Chang to sell Tasty Patties at Palazzo in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Chef David Chang has announced a casual concept that will accompany his new Majordomo Meat & Fish at Palazzo on the Las Vegas Strip. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Latkes, tzimmes at Market Place Buffet in Las Vegas for Rosh Hashanah
Ryan Swanson, Market Place Buffet room chef at the JW Marriott/Rampart Casino in Las Vegas, makes potato dishes as part of the resort’s Rosh Hashanah buffet. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
How Elphaba In "Wicked" turns green - VIDEO
Mariand Torres gets "painted" by makeup supervisor Joyce McGilberry for her role as Elphaba in "Wicked" at The Smith Center. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Hangover is served at The Crack Shack in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Khine Moore, executive chef at The Crack Shack at Park MGM in Las Vegas, makes The Hangover with a fried chicken breast or thigh dipped in honey-butter, sprinkled with Crack Seasoning and topped with an egg. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dessert Before Dinner winner Becky Quan
Nine of Las Vegas’ top women pastry chefs offered original creations built around Girl Scouts Trefoils shortbread cookies Saturday night at Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada’s annual Desserts Before Dinner Gala. The top dessert, as voted on by the audience, was an homage to Good Humor’s old-fashioned Strawberry Shortcake ice cream bars created by NoMad’s Becky Quan. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Chef Sammy D is cooking again in Las Vegas
Sam DeMarco served his first public meal since returning to Las Vegas on Sunday, with a pop-up brunch at 7th & Carson. And the veteran of the First Food & Bar, Rattlecan and Sam’s American has more in store for the downtown spot. The chef, known as Sammy D. to his friends, is taking on a consulting chef role with restaurant that will see some of Sunday’s offerings added to the regular menu. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Carl’s Donuts in Las Vegas celebrates National Cream-Filled Doughnut Day
Carl’s Donuts, a Las Vegas-based company that’s been serving the city since 1966, celebrates National Cream-Filled Doughnut Day with specialties themed to fall. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rick Harrison of "Pawn Stars" has a new store - VIDEO
Rick Harrison, the Pawn Stars co-star and owner of Gold & Silver Pawn, talks to the Review-Journal’s John Katsilometes about his soon-to-open Rick’s Collection retail outlet of mostly mid-century masterworks at the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pok Pok Wing at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas serves Pad Thai Thamadaa - VIDEO
Because of popular request, the 1-year-old Pok Pok Wing at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas serves Pad Thai Thamadaa, with shrimp, ground pork, neither or both. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trial by Fire cocktail at the Golden Tiki in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Adam Rains, head bartender (also Grand Poobah and a few other things) at The Golden Tiki in Las Vegas, makes one of the bar’s tiki drinks, (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gordon Ramsay renovating Las Vegas steakhouse - VIDEO
Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay is preparing to re-launch his Paris Las Vegas restaurant, Gordon Ramsay Steak. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cats owners compete for top show awards
The annual Jazzy Cats event is taking place at the Rio Convention Center this weekend attracting cats owners from around the country and the world to compete for the top show awards. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brooklyn Bowl in Las Vegas serves blackened Cajun catfish - VIDEO
Troy Remer, sous chef at Brooklyn Bowl at The Linq Promenade in Las Vegas, blackens Cajun catfish on the grill before serving it with mashed potatoes and collard greens. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Gold Encrusted Filet Mignon at Mr. Chow - VIDEO
This just may be the gold standard for the filet mignon. Mr. Chow at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas has introduced The Gold Encrusted Filet Mignon, which is coated with real 24-karat gold. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Working as a mermaid in Las Vegas - VIDEO
McKenzie Kawano works as a mermaid at the aquarium at the Silverton in Las Vegas. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pinkbox Doughnuts opens third store in Las Vegas area
Las Vegas-based Pinkbox Doughnuts, which opened its third store at 9435 W. Tropicana Ave., specializes in doughnuts such as the new Station Wagon, with Butterfinger; pink-velvet Pretty in Pink; and hybrid Glazed DoughCro Bites. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal, with image courtesy of Pinkbox Doughnuts
Starbucks brings back Pumpkin Spice early
Starbucks declares Aug. 27 the first day of fall as they make their pumpkin spice items available a full month early. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bachelor Party Fra Diavolo at Carmine’s in Las Vegas
Roberto Leon, a line cook at Carmine’s at The Forum Shops at Caesars in Las Vegas, makes Bachelor Party Fra Diavolo with eight pounds of lobster, a pound each of mussels, clams and shrimp, two pounds of pasta and two gallons of sauce. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
'American Idol' auditions in Las Vegas
“American Idol” was in Las Vegas Monday looking for singers to compete in its upcoming 2020 season. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegan part of the Harlem Globetrotters
Scooter Christensen, who grew up in Las Vegas, will play with the Harlem Globetrotters at The Orleans in Las Vegas Sunday, Aug. 25. (Mat Luschek / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Right lighting can elevate your home

Lighting can be broken down into three parts: ambient, accent and task. Once those utilitarian needs have been assessed, it’s time for layering to create comfort and style.

Container trees have problems retaining water, fertilizer

Trees grown in containers are more finicky than those planted in the ground because the roots don’t have access to as much soil mass. The limited soil volume in containers makes watering and applying fertilizers more complicated; the tree runs out of both more quickly.

Designers focus on creating healthy homes

Architects and interior designers are realizing the importance of designing spaces with people’s well-being in mind.

Uncarpeted floors are great but still need area rug

Tile or hardwood floors are beautiful and practical, but you must have area rugs to make them more usable and comfortable.

Screen or mesh will keep dog from fitting through gate

Screening or mesh will prevent your pet from escaping through your gate. It is available at a home center for less than $20, and you can choose from a few different colors. If you have an extra-large gate, you might have to buy a few pieces.

Select desert plants for privacy hedge

My Saturday, four-week class, “Fix Your Landscape” will start Oct. 26 in North Las Vegas. This weekly landscaping class will show you design tricks that save water and electricity, plant selections that work, planting methods that are successful and how to fix problems, and irrigation installation and how to water.

Choices of art usually reflect your personal style

There are also many forms of visual art. It’s no wonder that people get so confused when trying to find art pieces for their homes. Usually, if you have a certain style in your home, your choices of art will reflect that.