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Eclecticism in the interior
How to furnish an apartment in an eclectic style? What furniture and color palette to choose? Get acquainted with the history of this style and its distinctive characteristics on the Room Planner blog.
What Is Eclectic Style?
What does eclectic style mean? The word “eclectic” is defined as “drawn from various sources”. Eclecticism design definition, though, is closer to its Greek root word “eklektikos”, which means “to choose the best”.
Eclectic design lets you select the best of every style that you find intriguing, and combine it to suit your taste, style, and space. In that sense, no two individuals’ concept of eclecticism in interior design is necessarily identical.
It all alludes to the central theme of eclecticism design, which is that there are no set rules to follow or obey; there is no ‘right eclectic design’ and ‘wrong eclectic design’. Of course, the rules of color and texture, juxtaposition and contrast, and similar interior design guidelines will still apply.
However, they revolve around aesthetics and presentation as a whole instead of an adherence to eclecticism itself.
A space intelligently designed in line with eclecticism brings together disparate styles harmoniously. It is ripe for ideas and embraces them in proportion to achieve the most impactful visuals. Budding designers who are still trying to find their feet and individual sense of expression can use eclecticism as a foundation.
It has boundaries wide enough to accommodate both someone’s curious experimentation and their deliberate steps in any direction. Whichever your path, the freedom to play offered by designing in eclecticism cannot be matched by any other style.
History of Eclectic Style
We have touched on the roots of the word ‘eclectic’ but what does eclectic mean in interior design?
It was originally most often used in philosophy to describe how one could extract and combine the best doctrines from various different but established schools of thought.
Literature traces its first use in the artistic sense to 18th century German art historian Johan Joachim Winckelmann. He used the word as an adjective for the works of 17th century artist Annibale Carracci. Carracci was known for combining styles, ideas, and theories from different periods of history and producing individual works of art that defy rigid classification.
Eclecticism gained widespread acceptance as a creative genre with architecture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. There was a breakaway by designers from the tradition of adhering to specific schools of building architecture such as Byzantine, Neoclassical, or Gothic Revival. Instead, there was a greater emphasis on what was most beautiful, interesting, or conducive.
It was inevitable that once eclecticism was embraced in architecture that its application would then trickle down into interior decor. Interior designers similarly began to reject the conformist rules set upon them by theory and instead embrace a more unfettered vision for the spaces they designed.
The great irony is that their deliberate choice to break free of fixed styles of design resulted in the creation of an entirely new school of design, eclecticism. Nevertheless, it created an avenue through which we can appreciate the wonders of creativity from myriad places and eras in a single location. There surely is supreme merit just to that achievement.
Characteristics of Eclectic Style
Precisely because eclectic style forgoes conformity, a space designed in accordance should borrow from various sources and influences. As we touched on earlier, there is no right and wrong approach if you want an eclectic space – the only hurdle could be if one influence occupies too great a proportion of the area.
One important decision is whether to apply eclecticism on a micro or macro scale. A home designed for an eclectic interior may have different rooms in different styles, or individual rooms may embrace a variety of influences, and decor inspired by different sources cab occupy even a small space within a room.
The answer depends on your eye for eclecticism, on the size and shape of the area being designed, as well as the preferences of the client. Beyond that, an eclectic interior can be shaped from:
Color – to comfortably encompass all the possible differing influences, the base color of an eclectic space is almost invariably neutral.
Pattern – as with color, patterns are one of the most obvious giveaways of a particular style of decor; a range of patterns across furniture and drapery fabrics, as well as rugs and art pieces, are a strong sign of the eclectic hand.
Accessories – accessories in their various sizes offer a convenient opportunity to add eclectic influences to any space of any dimension. Trinkets picked up on trips to different corners of the world immediately add a tone of dissimilarity that buoys eclectic decor.
Vintage and modern – the stark differences between the lines and patterns of new and old styles are a strong indicator of eclectic design. Pair movements that favor curves and softness with those that espouse simplicity and tenacity.
With this foundation comes a balance that is capable of accommodating wildly divergent styles without overtly emphasizing any one over any other. After the base is decided, the world is the designer’s oyster – they can create as varied a palette as desired so long as they don’t trespass into the realm of gaudy.
Tips for Decorating with Eclectic Style
Variety is the spice of life, but there can be too much of a good thing. The key to creating a welcoming and aesthetically pleasing eclectic decor is to steer clear of overwhelming the senses. Avoid juxtaposing aggressively dissimilar colors.
Dual purposing is an excellent way of introducing variation. For example, a vintage trunk can double as a coffee table. Set between low chairs in the modern or hi-tech style, it introduces just enough variation to the setting without detracting from the practicality of its placement.
So many of the different decor styles have a direct association with the world of art. If you have already created an eclectic-style space, add works from the associated art movements within them. Take variety a step further by placing art from one style within the space of another.
Homeowners who have bigger collections can opt for a gallery wall. Here, the works may be arranged as a chronological evolution, by international region, or simply in a pattern that intrigues the eye.
Creating an eclectic space is no simple task – it is not as simple as throwing together as many different things and hoping for the best. Get the guidance you need, either as a beginner or a designer, with the Room Planner App.
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