5 Guidelines for Mixing Decor Styles: Curate a Home That Tells a Story

The magic is in the mix. One of our goals with Broaden is to inspire you to create a home that is full of meaning by including pieces from other cultures and times to create a layered, storied interior. None of us exists in one time and one place only; we are people with histories and our whole lives are journeys of becoming. What if our homes could truly reflect that?

It can be overwhelming either to look at the disparate elements in your home and imagine how they could flow — or if everything looks the same, to know how to add a few nuanced touches that will enable all of the elements to shine. Here are 5 guiding principles to making your home feel curated and cohesive, all while reflecting you. 


1. BALANCE: consider your space. What do you have to work with? A 1950s colonial is a very different stage from a 1920s Spanish revival, and a 1980s ranch a far cry from a loft apartment built at the turn of the 20th century. Embrace the boundaries of what you have. If there is a possibility that you won't live in your current home forever, base your design decisions primarily on what you love, not on trying to match the house. A good rule of thumb in such a situation is the 80/20 principle. If 80% of your items are cohesive, the other 20% can be something else. For instance, if you live in a new build in the suburbs but dream of moving to a historic downtown apartment because that suits your aesthetic style better (or vice versa), opt for a few things that "fit" your current space - same era - and then branch out to other styles from there. If you have a forever home, the same principle of balance between styles applies. Mostly one, with a dash of others for interest. 

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2. EMPHASIS: create focal points. Plan based on your largest or most impactful pieces first. Maybe you already own mostly pieces that you love. Or perhaps you need to purchase one or two key pieces that will define the room  for instance, a dining table, a couch, or a bed. It may be worth splurging on (or saving for) a couch or statement area rug if that item will set the right tone for the entire space. Either way, starting with the biggest rocks first is key to anchoring the design of the space. A question to help you decide what the focal points are: "Where does your eye go first?" A question to think through if you're purchasing: "Does this item fit the scale of the room?" An item that is too large will make the room feel cramped. A piece that is too small will look lost. When you squint at the room, what do you see first? How do the proportions feel? It may help to start with neutral walls - at least at first - while you're deep in the decision-making process. You can always add more color later to complement the pieces in the room. Begin wide and general, then funnel inward from there.

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3. UNITY: find common threads. Repetition brings the design together. Group similar items into collections for more impact. This could be a wall of artwork, a collection of frames on a side table or collection of candlesticks and objects d'art on a mantle, or a corner of plants for a splash of green. Aim for repeated colors or textures. Examples: if you have just one item with a lot of filigree, pulling in another item or two with a similar motif will make everything more cohesive. Or if you're mixing woods or metals, make sure that you have repetition of each of the tones so that they look purposeful. Referring back to the 80/20 rule here can be a helpful guide. If you love blue, use it in more than one place. You can also employ color on the walls as an element of repetition for even more impact, a decision you'll be better prepared to make later in the design process once the largest elements are firmly in place. 

 bright modern boho bohemian bedroom Moroccan pouf Turkish rug cozy decor   record vinyl collection side table gallery wall bright living room decor ideas


4. VARIETY: Pull from personal experience. Items picked up on travels or thrifted give your home uniqueness and interest. Heirlooms provide a sense of history and rootedness. For a space to be timeless, it needs to be based on something deeper than a trend. If everything you see on Pinterest is white and neutral, but you love color, set yourself free from that expectation. If you're happiest with silver hardware but every trend alert is predicting rose gold, choose what you like over the trend. You will be happier longer, because no trend lasts forever. You want to like what you're left with once the trend says goodbye. And don't be afraid of things that don't match. Not perfectly following any formula will make your home feel authentic; if you love something, it will work because it reflects you. 

 Eclectic bohemian dining room kitchen decor ceiling beams open shelving Moroccan are rug   bright glamorous open traditional living room decor global design accents


5. DETAILS, details. Once the bones are in place, it's the artwork, plants, fixtures, accent pieces, and textiles that make a room feel lived-in and welcoming. These details catch your eyes and draw them throughout the space. If you have all of your large furniture items already, focus here for the finishing touches. Look back to your focal points to decide what needs highlighting and interest. 

In summary: it's perfectly ok for your home to be a work in progress. Budget limitations that prevent doing everything at once, or even indecision over exactly what "final" result you're looking for can both be advantages in the end. What we like can change, and gradually curating the items in your home allows it to grow along with you. A slower pace can also enable you to curate more thoughtfully and with an eye to things that will last. Be patient and embrace time as part of the process of filling your home with items that you love. To that end, we'll be doing a series of posts throughout this year with more specific inspiration and ideas for styling and incorporating global pieces into your life. Sign up for our newsletter on our homepage, so that you never miss a post! 

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| Photo sources, top left to bottom right: Pinterest, Cottages & Gardens, SF Girl by Bay, Pinterest, My Domaine, SF Girl by Bay, Pinterest, My Paradissi, Domino, The Design Files |


  • No problems on an iPad!
    Thoughtful and well written article. We all need to be told that indecision and procrastination are OK!

    Kathy T
  • This is a beautiful email. My view of it came through perfectly. Maybe an unusual glitch for the above friend?

  • The color, contrast, and intensity of the print utilized in the body of this email is so faint that I cannot read it.


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