Eclectic design is everywhere these days and has become so ubiquitous it is really what most people are talking about when they say contemporary. There are many variations of course: farmhouse eclectic, boho chic, contemporary eclectic, etc. A decade or two ago, eclectic design conjured images of your crazy aunt’s house that looked like a garage sale exploded in it with tchotchkes everywhere, dark oppressive colors, and a combination of styles of furniture that would give you a headache. But I bet your crazy aunt loved her crazy house and it was truly collected. It represented all the things she loved in her life however badly it all might have looked together.
But now eclectic is pared down with white or neutral backgrounds and interspersed with clean lines to give your eye a place to rest. It’s thoughtful eclectic or contemporary eclectic–not busy or cluttered feeling, but with a collected feeling giving warmth to spare design. It also draws your attention to the collected or eclectic items in a room so they are appreciated instead of lost in the shuffle. This is why your great grandmother’s Victorian settee can work with the Eames chair you just bought at DWR and the Moroccan side table.
Whenever clients ask me for a trend-proof design, one that they won’t have to update in 5-10 years, I give them a variation of this answer: The only design items that are trend-proof are the ones you love. If you really love a particular trend, go for it! But if you overdo it, be prepared to have to update it in about 5-10 years. Do you love painted furniture? Find one piece you love and incorporate it into your overall design. But don’t paint every piece in your living room. Do you love industrial? Add an industrial light fixture you adore or a rustic metal coffee table you scored at a flea market but be cautious about incorporating too many of these pieces and creating too much of a theme that you will tire of more quickly. Do you love a particular furniture line at Restoration Hardware or Room and Board? Buy one or two of those pieces but don’t get the whole grouping.
Things you should always be prepared to update: fabrics and paint colors. Throw pillows and curtains will be updated more frequently than upholstered pieces and paint colors somewhere in between. So many people are trying to figure out how to incorporate their espresso brown leather sofa into their recently painted slate gray walls (that probably used to be beige or Tuscan red). And no matter how much you love gray right now, we are all going to be painting over our blue-gray rooms in about 7 years :). But I bet we’ll keep that farmhouse table/metal coffee table/funky sculpture we bought because we really loved it.