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5 tips for decorating when styles shouldn't match

Posted on 23 July 2017

One of the grand rules of interior design is to create a space that is cohesive by ensuring that everything in your design matches or communicates correctly, that styles are kept consistent.

Well, I’m here to tell you that you can throw away those rules – if you want to! Because rules were meant to be broken, and no fun story ever started without breaking a few!

Playing with contrast – putting two things together that don’t relate to each other, can create some of the most fun, engaging and playful interiors you can imagine. It also lets you assert your more ambitious personality traits into an interior without going over the top with patterns, colours and clutter.

Think of a sleek, modern white interior with a large retro statement piece, or a bold, colourful rug, these little unexpected moments turn something rather clinical into a room that has a controlled explosion of personality.

A great example of this lately is the trend of renovating and rejuvenating Terrace and Queenslander homes in a way that maintains the character of the home but injects modern finishes and colour schemes around the traditional base of the building.

At its core, you’re putting things that don’t go together, together!

1. Lines: When your space has lots of hard lines, add something organic.


Cameron Coffee Table - Available from domu

Your interior might be built around hard angles, hard surfaces and materials like concrete, metals and other stone finishes. This is the perfect opportunity to break that up and add something, big, bold and organic. It could be a soft edged rug, a big wicker pendant light or a round coffee table. Timber, round shapes, the ever so trendy velvet is the fabric du jour at the moment. A big round ottoman in velvet (With or without tufting, it’s up to you!) is probably perfect. In fact, I think you know it is perfect. This works in the opposite direction too. If you have lots of soft finishes in your space, add something hard. Think metals, stones and plastics!


These acrylic chairs, while rounded, along with this glass table, are a great contrast to the softer elements of the room, like the rug and curtains - Source Pinterest


The rounded, delicate form of this crystal pendant really stand out against the strong, masculine finishes in this room - Source: Jessica Helgerson Design


2. Go full on with your art statements


Shangri-La - Original Wall Art by Anne-Maree Wise. Available from domu

If you’ve got lots of white or a very monochromatic interior, find one spot to throw in a lot of colour in the form of an oversized artwork (painting or sculpture, you can have some fun with a plastic garden statue and some fluro spray paint!), or even adding an oversized wallpaper or vinyl decal to one wall. Lots of companies will now create custom wallpapers for you. Find an image, zoom in on it, or get creative with photoshop. That photo from your holiday you love with a pixelated filter over it is the big bold colourful statement you need, and it means something to you!


Large, colourful artworks and wall murals turn a very standard squared room into an engaging and dramatic gallery.
Source: Rafael de Cardenas Interior Design,


A pair of bright yellow chairs and large modern wall mural stand out against the very traditional and whitewashed features of this room. Source: Pinterest

3. Style in the opposite direction

Adding super modern furniture or colourful plastic pieces into a pre-war building, or filling your newly built apartment with layers of art deco creates an unexpected appeal. While it’s easy to work with the space to create something cohesive, it’s far more fun to work against it and create something entirely unexpected. While this can on occasion be an expensive endeavour, it doesn’t need to be with the right piece. Try your luck second-hand stores, garage sales or wherever you like to hunt for your furniture and decor bargains


The contrast of the metal chair's against the wooden dining table is unexpected yet totally work in this space. Source - Pinterest

4. Buy that statement piece you've always wanted

So you’ve got a home all sorted, but perhaps you don’t like the chairs that came with the dining table. Two big bold wingback chairs at the head of the table could be the thing separating you from your design dreams. What about that bedroom? Oversized lamps on your bedside table, or a bold headboard in a completely opposing style and colour scheme will also do the trick!


Favela Armchair by Edra - Source: Pinterest

5. Change the temperature

By temperature, we’re talking about colour. If you have a cool colour scheme (think blues, whites, greys, purples, grassy greens and light pinks), add something in a bold orange or red.


These mixed monochromatic hex tiles set into a hard timber floor contrast the rough and warm organic with the cooler, geometric and harder manmade and great a fantastic focal point in an otherwise simple industrial space. Source: Dwell Magazine, March 2013

If your colour scheme errs more on the warmer side, create a moment of respite from the heat with a splash of cooler colour. It doesn’t have to be furniture or art, it could be as simple as a throw rug or a plant, but it stands against the main space and changes the visual conversation.


Grey Rabbit Fur Throw - Available from domu

Remember to always have fun with your space. Create something for you! Mix up things however you like, and don’t be afraid to mix contrasting elements. Keep playing with your space until it feels right for you!

This weeks article was written by Clinton Moore of Clinton James Interiors


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