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How to Pick Furniture that Goes Together

Choosing furniture with a similar style and weight makes any room look balanced, and strategically placed color draws your eye farther into the room.
Choosing furniture with a similar style and weight makes any room look balanced, and strategically placed color draws your eye farther into the room.
Hemera/Thinkstock

You bought a new house that you can't wait to furnish. Visions of comfy couches and dining room chairs dance in your head, but when it comes to putting it all together, your mind is reeling. If you want to make it easy, you can go matchy-matchy and buy a suite of furniture.

But many of us are more interested in creating an eclectic room with a personality, including pieces from different designers and even different eras. Eclectic isn't just a word for throwing together everything you have in hopes of making it work. There's a strategy to pulling off a harmonious, eclectic look, and it involves a decorating scheme with unifying elements.

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One strategic way to mix and match your furnishings is through use of color. It's a great way to provide continuity in a room with pieces of different styles. For example, you may be a flea market hound who owns a room full of mismatched wood furniture. So consider painting it all one color. A monochromatic scheme of white walls and painted white furniture in a variety of styles is the basis of the popular Shabby Chic decorating style, which has been in vogue for years.

Complementary colors lie across from each other on the color wheel and provide the most vibrant color combos, so don't be afraid to make bold choices. But if you want to use multiple colors in your furniture or accessories, consider a neutral backdrop, such as white or beige walls and trim.

Choosing fabrics with bold patterns and contrasting colors is a great way to tie together a couple of furnishings that wouldn't ordinarily "go" together, from a color wheel perspective. Funky and vibrant patterns are all the rage, and the rooms that successfully combine a variety of patterns are wonderful to be in. For example, you could reupholster your couch in a striped pattern and choose a large scale floral in like colors for your guest chairs. Then choose a smaller scale of the same floral pattern for accent pillows on the couch.

If you want to keep it simple, find a rug that has the colors you want in your room. Take heed, it's wise to choose the rug before the furnishings. You could spend an exorbitant amount of time trying to find the perfect rug to harmonize your sage green couch with your orange patterned ottoman. It's much easier to find the rug first, and then choose upholstery that matches.

Consider scale when furnishing a room. With a large sofa and chair, you want a chunky coffee table that matches the other furniture's girth.
Consider scale when furnishing a room. With a large sofa and chair, you want a chunky coffee table that matches the other furniture's girth.
Jupiterimages/Comstock/©Getty Images/Thinkstock

Another way to achieve balance is to choose furniture that matches in visual weight. For example, you wouldn't want to pair a comfy overstuffed couch with a spindly-legged coffee table. Instead, you should opt for a chunky coffee table that proportionally matches the girth of the sofa.

The scale of the furniture should work in tandem with the size of the room. If you have a small bedroom, you don't want to stuff it with a king-sized bed and matching dressers. It will make the room seem overcrowded and anything but an inviting place to lay your head. Conversely, if you have a cavernous dining room, a table for four and a small buffet will get lost in the vastness. As much as your furniture needs to have a sense of scale, it also needs to work well in the room.

If you prefer wood furniture in its stained state, finding different pieces in the same shade of wood is a great way to unify a dissimilar combination of furniture. If you're feeling daring, you can successfully mix up a combo of light and dark woods, but be sure you have enough of both to balance each other. For example, if you have a big dark coffee table, and you want to use smaller end tables in lighter wood, you'll want at least two of the smaller tables so that they have similar visual weight as the coffee table. Metal is a good complement to a contemporary eclectic decorating scheme, but it won't work as well in a formal room.

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Sources

  • "Basic Decorating Tips with Personal Style!" Spirited Lady Boutique & Affirmations. March 27, 2010. (Aug. 28, 2010) http://www.spirited-lady-boutique.com/decorating.html"
  • Decorating Tips and Hints." Plantation Furnishings. 2010. (Aug. 28, 2010) http://www.plantationfurnishings.com/buying-tips-decorating.php
  • "Design Dilemma: Changing Design Styles Mid-Stream." HomeDesignFind.com. May 26, 2009. (Aug. 28, 2010) http://www.homedesignfind.com/how-to-tips-advice/design-dilemma-changing-design-styles-mid-stream/
  • "Ten Top Interior Design Myths Dispelled -- Dos and Don'ts for Successful Interior Decorating." Handy American. 2010. (Aug. 28, 2010) http://www.handyamerican.com/articles-myths-interior-decorating.asp

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