getting the right version of all mixed up

Interiors of today are fundamentally eclectic. To their very core they are about mixing a range of styles and influences into a beautiful whole. If you look at any magazine photo you are likely to see a juxtaposition of modern and antique, ornate and spare, Asian and European, natural and engineered.

Talk of modern and traditional is outmoded. We are well into an era that transcends easy dichotomies, pure distinctions, and that is what makes this such an interesting time to live and, well, decorate.

It is clear that we are all exposed to myriad influences every day. Our worlds are not tightly anchored to location. We live in virtual spaces of imagination, as well as real connection and possibility. Travel with our fingertips on keyboards, and physically, is just who we are. Connections with people from all over the world is our wonderful reality. And preservation of elements of the past is what grounds us now.

Doing residences in this environment is so fascinating. Each family brings their own preferences, history, and experiences into the picture. Each engages with the world in entirely unique ways, and they all want their homes to express all of the very varied facets of who they are. It is important to be worldly and have that worldliness reflected in how we live.

Here in lies the challenge. We want it all. We want grandeur AND simplicity, furniture from France AND India, traditional crafts AND photography, a flea market find AND the latest item from our favorite line. Without some thought and restraint the whole thing can turn into a hodge podge. I believe this movement towards the fundamentally eclectic or mixed is the source of several other MAJOR trends in interiors today, which makes the whole mixed up thing work beautifully. Do try these tips at home.

White or near white walls. Flip through any shelter magazine and you will mostly see page after page of white or pale color on walls. The understatement of the background color more easily allows the overstatement of all the other elements. Light walls bring peace, transcendence, a feeling of expansion which allows all the competing influences to get along so nicely.

Simpler fabrics. Prints often seem like too much in rooms where there are many diverse elements. Thus we often see pattern restricted to small areas, or even absent or replaced with texture.  Iif on larger areas, the patterns will be more muted, involve fewer colors, or be more geometric rather than free-form.

Reining in color. Taupe and grey are colors today! In the past they might not have been thought of as colors at all.  Wood finishes have also lost ruddy red or yellow undertones to accommodate the more muted feeling (an entire issue of House Beautiful was recently dedicated to the NEW color of wood!). Overall color schemes for rooms have a more subdued slightly monochromatic feel. These palettes are most conducive to showcasing bright abstract paintings or intricate pieces from Asia, and all other such expressions of cultured living.