Many of us are afraid to combine design styles. That it’s against the rules. The truth is that many showrooms display looks featuring one specific aesthetic or design style, but that doesn’t mean you need to do the same. A look that is too uniform can be downright boring. Instead use your space to tell the story of everyone who lives there.

New décor styles have developed thanks to the mixing of styles. Many types of design reflect a mishmash of other styles that have evolved over time.

Whether you are looking to combine décor styles with a partner, have a well-loved piece of furniture that doesn’t quite match, or you are transitioning between styles because you can’t or don’t want a complete redo of your space right now, you can make it work! Whether you want to take bigger risks or play it safe, there are many tried and true ways to make multiple styles work within the same room.

The Easiest Looks to Combine

Some types of style are easier to pair than others. For beginners consider sticking to eclectic and funky for greater flexibility. Looking for something a little more modern with a bold flare, try pairing Scandinavian and Bohemian for a ‘Scandi Boho’ look that is versatile and fun, and that works well with retro, rustic, and vintage pieces as well as natural textures and graphic patterns. Surprisingly animal prints and graphic patterns can work nicely with a classic look as funky ‘near-neutrals’.

The 80/20 Rule Isn’t Just For Healthy Eating

In design we talk a lot about scale and ratio. This is because when you get it just right a room looks fantastic and balanced! When designing your vision for your space pick a style that will be the focus, and another that will work to provide a style assist, 80/20. Many prefer to make their pricier or signature items the elements that make up the 80 percent so their investment pieces do the heavy lifting.

They say that variety is the spice of life. In design this is also true, but with limits. Keep a cap on the number of design styles in each room, to a maximum of three (maybe two for beginners). Popular design styles include: Minimalist, Contemporary, Traditional, Transitional, Rustic, French Country, Shabby Chic, Coastal, Scandinavian, Hollywood Regency, Urban Modern, Art Deco, and Bohemian. To get a full definition of many design styles check out this informative list, complete with photographic examples from Décor Aid.

Use Colour & Patterns To Unify

Just like too many styles can distract and clutter up a space, so can too many colours. The good news is you can use colours, textures, and patterns from your varied décor styles to help bring the room together. Knickknacks and items of furniture from completely different design styles and eras will better accent each other when they are the same shade or made from the same grain of wood (something that can also be faked by staining wood to a similar shade).

Selecting Your Colour Palette

You can pick a basic colour that you like and adjust the tint or shade by selecting slightly lighter or darker versions in the same family. To pick complementary colours look for ones that are on opposite sides of the colour wheel and embrace neutrals to make up the rest of your space.

Using the colour wheel, you can also decide whether you want your room to have a warm or cool feel. Tara Mastroeni of Freshhome says, “Reds, oranges, and yellows are often described as warm colours. They are typically more vibrant and seem to bring a sense of liveliness and intimacy to a space. In contrast, blues, purples, and most greens are the cool colours. They can be used to calm down a room and bring a relaxed feel. When choosing color temperature for a space, you should also consider the size. Using a warm color in a tight room could make things feel a little claustrophobic. However, using cool colors in a spacious room could leave things feeling stark.”

Feeling bold? HGTV has an extensive list of design palettes that work but are less traditional combinations including: Crimson and Sage, Green Grass and Tangerine, Periwinkle and Fuchsia, or Bubble Gum and Black.

Group Items Together By Size, Colour, & Theme

Instead of simply matching everything in your space, consider tying it together by size, colour, or theme. This will allow you to connect items that may not seem like fast friends. Knickknacks that are the same colour when displayed on a shelf or end table work well. On a coffee table consider unifying the height of your items. You can even use books or stylish trinket boxes in similar or neutral colours to make smaller items stack up beside taller ones. On shelves consider one shelf with larger items, one with smaller items, and one with items that are all made of glass. Have a collection of antique inkwells or floral teacups? Group them together to create a bigger wow factor.

Creating Balance Using The Buddy System

If you place ALL the rustic items in one section of the room, it’s not going to work well. This applies for any aesthetic. Try a buddy section where items of the same theme are placed around the entire room, or at least two distinct locations. To create balance, make sure that each item has a ‘friend’, whether it’s another table in the same wood tone or a pillow that matches the curtains. If you have a bold piece of art that just isn’t jiving, consider adding colour elements from the art into pillows and other small items in the room. When integrating modern items into a space give that chair or end table a friend in a lamp, rug, or modern art.

When There Is One Item That’s Not Like The Others

Sometimes the cheese stands alone. If something is sticking out in a room, consider embracing it and making it a focal point. Let the giant painting, fireplace, or chandelier steal the show! On the other side, if you are creating a theme for your room make sure you don’t go overboard and turn your space into unicorn island.

Putting It All Together

To put your room together begin with an empty space. Place your furniture, working from the largest items to the smaller ones, to get your scale right. Then move in accessories, working with ‘different but the same’ groups of items to give the room a balanced feel. Don’t be afraid to play around with items or ask an impartial friend or relative to come in and provide some advice if something seems slightly off. Their fresh perspective could help you nail the look you want!