Continuing my exploration of design styles, today is all about eclectic and transitional styles. Most of you probably are familiar with the term eclectic and think of it as a catch-all word to mean mish-mash. In fact eclectic does encompass a mix of elements, more so than any other style, but pulled together with purpose. Transitional, on the other hand, is a less familiar term – often my clients have no frame of reference for this style. Transitional is a gentle blend of contemporary and traditional elements that results in a comfortable, liveable style.
Eclectic Design Elements
What is meant by eclectic design and do you fit the style? Eclectic design is usually perceived as a free and easy, vibrant and unrestrained style. It is not a random jumble of thrift store finds and hand-me-downs but a thoughtfully gathered collection of interesting pieces that work together in scale and proportion – and sometimes are found at thrift stores and family garages. Some of the common elements of ecelectic design are:
- Mix of period pieces
- Mix of styles – a little contemporary mixed with an antique and a splash of Asian or some country blended with traditional and a lovely Moroccan piece thrown into the mix
- Use of the unexpected in unexpected ways
- Combination of art styles: a little modern abstract with a traditional landscape with a little ethnic art thrown into the mix
- Daring desire to have your home “be different” and take risks
This room has a classic fauteuil chair (far right), a modern zigzag stool, an art deco type mirror, a slipcovered chair and a period sofa (I have no idea which period!). This room works because the chair and sofa are similar in style, the red table and zigzag stool are similar in modern feel, the color palette is very neutral and the scale is compatible between all the pieces.
This room is anchored by a kind of country or French Country table and chairs on a plain textured rug (which is too small by the way and Cindy tells you why here). But the dining set is paired with modern simple drapery panels and a very formal crystal chandelier. Yet, it’s very comfortable, isn’t it?
Take a moment and really LOOK at this room. Appreciate all the disparate elements in the space. The classic lines of the sofa, the modern fabric pattern on one accent chair and very traditional lines on the other, a cow hide rug, a distressed Asian styled chest coffee table, interesting lamps (from what style?) and a more contemporary collection of art pieces and pillows. My goodness, what’s missing? Maybe a tribal mask somewhere? And yet all these elements work together to create a harmonious, surprising room.
A fun, energetic room from someone brave with their color and style choices: classic furniture profiles but in very untraditional fabrics, a traditional architecture updated by a bold teal wall color, etc. What other opposites can you find?
WHAT in the World is Transitional?
- Blends the best of traditional and contemporary design
- Softens the sharper edges of contemporary decor; mixes in a few turned legs or a plaid
- Furniture profiles are simple but sophisticated with gentle curves
- Using fabrics like chenille, corduroy, ultrasuede or microsuede, leather and even smooth cottons
- Usually transitional decor is marked by a restrained palette enhanced by pattern and texture
- Use of woods like maple, birch, mahogany in natural finishes; liberal use of glass and metals
- Like contemporary decor, transitional frequently uses minimal accessories
This home showcases both traditional and contemporary elements. Simple dining chair profiles paired with a rich wood table and light wood floors speak to contemporary design but then the chandelier, mirror and chair in the entry hall have much more traditional leanings. Even looking into the living room I see a traditional accent chair but modern glass and metal stacking side tables.
Can you identify the blending elements in this room? Traditional: spindle table leg, fauteuil side chairs, mantel and window treatment. Contemporary: sofa profile, stripe pattern on fauteuil chairs, accent chair next to sofa, color palette.
At first glance I almost didn’t pull this as a transitional room because it seems much more contemporary to me. Then I realized that most rooms are rarely a perfect depiction of only a single style. This softened contemporary room could be considered transitional due to the sofa profile and fabric as well as the side chairs which are not typically modern nor are they classically traditional – or because Kenneth Brown says so.
How would you classify this room? Is it transitional? The color scheme doesn’t fit the neutral criteria, but look at the blending of furniture, the soft curves, the traditional plaid and florals. Or could it be eclectic? A little country plaid, a casual sisal rug , a comfortable color palette, contemporary lines in the side tables and pink bar chair. Whatever style you label the room, it’s certainly inviting and I’d enjoy hanging out here. (again, rug too small for the space!)
Both of these styles exist for those of us that like to mix and match. We don’t like to have to conform to a rigid set of “design rules” telling us that a certain chair style doesn’t work with our sofa. We prefer to be mavericks, adventurers, trail blazers of home decor. Go forth and be eclectic or transitional or create your own style label (and tell us what it is!). Do these styles suit you? What appeals to you, or not, about these looks? Let us know below by clicking the “Comment” and tell us about your style preferences.
Anniversary Celebration Spotlight
Our third contributor to the One Year Anniversary that we’re celebrating on Wednesday is ETSY store Autumn Letters, a photographer. Shannon Marie says, “I love to photograph nature and use my macro lens a lot. I like to experiment and play with bright, bold colors.” Take a look at a couple of her lovely prints and you’ll see her experiments turn into lovely prints suitable for your home.
Take a moment to visit Shannon Marie’s store (link above) and think about which prints you’d like to have if you win. In order to win, all you have to do is visit us on Wednesday, July 7 and leave us a comment. Tell us your favorite features of Your Decorating Hotline; tell us what you’d like us to cover; tell us your biggest decorating dilemma; tell us anything you’d like to share. Then we’ll have a random drawing and 3 lucky readers will win gifts. Our anniversary, your party. See you Wednesday.