A very common question I often get asked is, ‘When is it okay to mix styles?’

Most times, I’ve noticed that the majority like to keep things simple and stick to one type of style, such as contemporary. Yet, with a little bit of skill and a slightly trained eye, one might find that a space can exuberate much more character when a little bit more thought and effort has gone into deciding the harmony of co-existing furniture, textures and decorative pieces.

Sticking to these basic principles will broaden your ability to mix styles and still create a space that flows well together.

Choose a primary and secondary style – First things first. Choose your main design style. Let’s say, for popularity’s sake, you opt for contemporary. Then choose the style that you wish to accentuate and finish with that. 1960s retro would be a good option.

Research your design styles – This is to be done before you even consider walking into a shop and filling your trolley with pieces that catch your eye. It is of the utmost importance that you get to know your styles well, so flip through magazines and read online blogs – anything to enlighten and inspire you. Soon enough, you’ll be getting a good idea of what you’re looking for and the direction you’ll be taking.


TIMELESS. A black and white contemporary palette with retro shapes, such as the curves of the seating pieces and the coffee table.


Choose your colour palette – Just because you’re mixing styles doesn’t mean that you can go colour crazy. Choose your 3 major colours, and then play around with their hues and tones to create pattern and depth throughout the space. Remember that you can always go for a one- or two-colour palette. This all depends on the feel of the space you are trying to create. A monochrome palette could mean a more simple and relaxing environment, whilst more colours will create more life and character.


RETRO COLOUR INJECTION. A bold colour palette accentuates a retro feel by bringing in flower power colours and plants reminiscent of 1960’s California.


Create a theme – Just because you’re using two different styles doesn’t mean that you can’t go about designing without any direction or filtering. Each style has numerous ways of being reflected, so make sure you choose your theme at the early stages. This will guide you through the design process. Examples of this could be a neutral contemporary feel with bold retro accents, or maybe minimal contemporary lines with organic retro curves. The sky’s your limit!


IT’S IN THE SHAPES. A very subtle retro effect is displayed here through the use of the seating shapes and style as well as the drop pendant materials and circular shape.


What elements are okay to mix? Mixing styles does not mean one chair is of contemporary design and the other is a 1960’s classic. Having said that, if done correctly, this could look incredible. However, a more simple way of mixing styles is to decide that the primary style will be reflected in the furniture and fixed pieces, whilst the secondary style will be exposed through decorative ornaments, such as cushions, art and other variable items around the home.




COLOUR, SHAPES & PATTERN. A brabantia advert illustrating how even a contemporary kitchen can illuminate a retro feel through the use of a simple item such as the waste bin! The colour and pattern brings retro back. This flows perfectly with the retro feel mixer.


This 5 step guide should be able to help those who are looking to bring an eclectic feel into their spaces. Yet if ever in doubt or if you need some guidance, it is always best to refer to a professional who will be able to answer your questions!

Check out Lillie Helena for constant design inspiration.


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