Mismatched furniture doesn’t have to look like a room full of yard sale finds, even if it is (Shhh, we won’t tell!). Interior decorators, the budget conscious, and those with an eye for the eclectic all use these techniques to transform a room’s look from bored to adored. The best part is, you’ll develop a knack for knowing what works along the way, coming up with your own spin on interior style.
Pick a Theme, Any Theme
Creating a theme (or mixing two of your faves) is an excellent way to make mismatched furniture work, no matter which room you’re decorating. Take a good look at the existing furniture and accent pieces to see if they share a common thread, such as a beachy look, chippy paint or similar prints and patterns. Salvage similar items from other rooms in your home and use them in the project room to make the theme more obvious. You could even make a few accents yourself, such as cafe curtains made from old flour or coffee sacks.
Found objects can also help create a cohesive look for a themed room. For instance, if the room has a vintage or travel theme, cover the top of a table with old postcards, travel photos and maps (or photocopies of them) and sandwich them under glass. Swap out the paper items any time you want to change the look, or as you find more interesting pieces. For a beach or seaside theme, add apothecary jars full of sand and seashells, beach-glass or tiny bits of driftwood. Smooth river rocks displayed on a bookcase or table enhance the look for a zen or nature-inspired room. The possibilities are virtually endless.
Joy in Repetition
Color repetition is a secret weapon when it comes to making your mismatched miscellany look good together, even if you can’t decide upon a basic theme for the room. A Fracture or photo on the wall featuring azure waters from your last vacation plays off the aqua tones in vintage medicine bottles used as vases near a window; an espresso brown console table pairs with a black and tan trunk from an import store or an ebony figure purchased during your travels. Pick a color from upholstery, a rug or a photo and repeat it somewhere else in the room, such as on a lamp or even a set of place-mats. If the room already has loads of unmatching colors – for instance, one with an eclectic or Bohemian theme – find an area rug or large painting that features some of the same hues to tie the look together.
Paint is your friend, too – spray paint the legs of several thrift-store tables to make them match, or paint some old toys the same color for a quirky display for the bookcase. Paint the inside back walls of a bookcase apple green to match throw pillows across the room, or cover those bookcase walls with a decorative contact paper matching a color in your favorite chair’s upholstery. For even more playfulness, paint or cover each section in a slightly different color. Go ombre or rainbow, or mix things up even more just for fun (keeping the room’s other colors in mind, of course). Paint empty picture frames in different shades to match some of the fabrics in the room for even more excitement.
Dining With Diversity
Mismatched seating adds a random and ridiculously fun look around a dining table. The secret? Go for similar seat height. Since seat height is fairly standard, this is easy to accomplish. Mix brown woods with dark metals and white painted chairs, for instance, or use a group of wood chairs, each painted a different color and distressed a bit to show off some of the wood beneath. Go for all vintage or salvaged chairs for an eclectic retro-inspired look, or grab a few chairs you already have, arrange them around the table and see which look best. Sit in each chair before making it a permanent installation at the table to make sure it is a good match for the table height.
Perk Things Up With Pillows
Throw pillows offer one of the easiest ways to tie together the look of a room, even if the sofa and armchairs don’t match. If the sofa came with a few matching throw pillows, place those on nearby unmatched chairs. Ta da! Now they match. Otherwise, find throw pillows that play off the colors on each piece of furniture. For instance, if the sofa is green and an armchair blue, pick throw pillows that have blue and green in them. The main shade of the pillows themselves can be a third tone, such as gray or off white, with stripes or patterns in blue and green. Purchase some pillows in solid neutrals (beige, for instance) and pair those with the patterned pillows you’ve selected. The patterns and solids team up to create a lush, plush look that makes your furniture choices look intentional and planned; they also make the space look more inviting and comfortable. The main rule is to pick pillows with colors and patterns that look good with one another, and when paired with the furniture.