Coloring outside the lines

How to break the matchy-matchy curse
There's an undeniable appeal about things that match. A sofa, loveseat, and chair, all covered in a rich dark leather, or a warm woven fabric. Dining room chairs that all match each other, the table, and the buffet. Appealing, comfortable, and safe.

Eclectic Style - It's all about you!

But suppose you have an itch for something different. What if you're mesmerized by the flood of new colors coming out of the Paris catwalks and popping up in magazines and showrooms every season, as we talked about in our last article? (Fashion Trends - From the Catwalk to Your Living Room) What if your inner self needs something that breaks up the sameness of the furniture in your living room? Like a Cypress green chair to offset the mocha brown loveseat. Or a light pastel floral pattern? How about lively Sangria chevron throw pillows. Something that truly says "This is uniquely me." Then decorating becomes an expression of your own personality and taste. It's like drinking white wine with red meat - you do it because that's the way you like it.

Even more appealing in its way, but not quite as comfortable or safe, because it means a step into the unknown: a leap of faith. Eclectic, after all, means mixing ideas, styles, or tastes from a broad and diverse range of sources. Bringing a variety of periods and styles together through the use of color, texture, shape and finish. Guided by your own personal sense of style. Remember, the first time someone mixed peanut butter and jelly - it was an eclectic lunchtime culinary experience. Soon it became a standard.

Where to begin?

With tens of thousands of choices available in showrooms, plus potentially millions more you can custom design, the possibilities are infinite. Where do you start? What shapes can you mix? How can you use that whiskey oak gate leg table that was your grandmother's? Should all the colors be in the same general category? Can you mix silk and leather? Chrome and wood? Urban and antique?

Happily, there is no defined eclectic "style." So you are the ultimate authority. If you think your grandmother's gate leg table looks good beside the chrome and leather recliner, that's your eclectic style. No one can tell you whether it's right or wrong because it's completely a matter of personal taste.

One of the wonderful parts of being eclectic is choice: the entire world of furniture is available to you. Can you mix, say, an Ashley Darcy Red sectional sofa with a 200-year-old rough-hewn Chinese antique in your living room? You can if you want to. Because your judgment is the only one that counts. The bad news is with so many different styles, shapes, and surfaces to choose from, you can feel a bit overwhelmed. Can you really rely on your own taste and judgment? Or are you just making a jumbled mess?

Ask an Expert - Interior Designers are your friends!

There's a simple solution to navigating the world of interior design. Ask an expert. Don't be afraid to talk to an Interior Designer at your favorite furniture store. Whether you're adding one piece, updating your living room, or re-doing your entire house, talk to a talented designer/decorator, like the ones in the Design Center at Mathis Brothers Furniture. They're up to the minute on what's available on the floor and in the dozens of manufacturers' catalogs they have on hand. And it's a complimentary service.

Thoroughly familiar with the latest styles and designs, they're a terrific resource to bounce ideas off of. They can help you create the look you're looking for - even if you don't know exactly what that look is. They'll sit with you, listen, even come to your home to get the complete picture, and help with suggestions that will make your eclectic "leap of faith" more of a "walk in the park."

Best of all, they're anonymous. So when your BFF sees your masterpiece for the first time, and compliments you on your taste, and courage, and decorating skill, you can just say "Thanks. I did it all myself."

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