Creating Eclectic Spaces

There is a quote from Winston Churchill I keep with me often, it reads “We build our homes, and then, our homes build us”. This phrase to me, defines, how the spaces we inhabit influence our mood, productivity and our quality of life, in general.

We spend 87% of our life in interior spaces. More than 4/5 of our lives, we are inside. Therefore, the transcendence and relevance of Interior Design.

‘Interior Design’ means the sum of internal materials that inform a space, this is A) the detailing, the materials that compose the floors, ceilings, walls and lighting; B) all the décor, this is, furniture, art, interior objects and indoor plants.

It also means to do the best possible with the available space. Architects predefine the most relevant factors in a project, such as, height, entry points of natural light, structure of the diverse spaces and other relevant data. Meanwhile, Interior Designers, in most cases, come into these preconceived spaces, and our job is to do the most and best with them.

The general idea of Interior Design is to generate spaces where people can better live. Where we can live the best possible version of our lives. Spaces that convey peace, wellbeing, relaxation and productivity, depending on the area of the project and what we wish it to convey.

We will now study the meaning of eclecticism in Interior Design and how to create harmonious and original eclectic spaces. For those of you that are drawn to spaces filled with character, where objects and furniture tell different stories, this is your style!


The word eclecticism comes from the Greek eklego, which means, to choose. It defines the attitude of choosing diverse historical styles meant for one same space.

In Interior Design, eclectic is an adjective that describes a heterogeneous space where different elements of diverse eras, textures, trends, style and color.

To choose and create this mix, we need to have freedom, imagination and creativity, more over, HARMONY. Harmony to be able to mix different styles, textures, colors and so create a cohesive space.

Generally, I recommend to mix from two to four styles at most, in one single space. We don’t want to generate a sampler or confused style, but create original spaces where the controlled mix of styles can be appreciated.

There is a very thin line between creating eclectic spaces and chaos with cohesion or unity.

We are not aiming to mix for mixing sake. As I have underlined before, the base of eclecticism is harmony and the contrast between eras, styles and quality. This is a style to create unique spaces, different to everything else.

I will underline three historical style that we revisit often in my Studio when aiming to create true eclecticism. There are hundreds of other styles such as Louis XV, Provençal, Brazilian design of mid 19th century and Mexican Baroque, just to mention some. Each style brings its own values and esthetic to the space. The quid is to find those that echo you own personal style, preferences and study them thoroughly, to be able to take them into this new space.

If we were speaking about cooking lessons, I would underline that to create your own style, one needs to know French traditional cuisine, then be inspired by previous knowledge and therefore, be able to create ourselves The same rule applies to Interior Design.

In our study of Eclectic Design, the first style I will underline is MODERNISM.


It came to be at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, it surged from 1870 to 1914.

Its main characteristics are:

– Artisanal manufacture –opposed to massive or industrial manufacture.

– Designs are inspired by nature: elements such as leaves, twigs, vines, lilies and florals are ever-present in the design of furniture and light fixtures,

– Female human figures are such as nymphs, fairies, etcetera.

– There is an important presence of exotic culture, specially a well recorded Japanese influence,

– There is a priority of form over function: objects and furniture are meant to be admired over their functionality.

The main names of Modernism are plentiful; I will enlist my favorite creators.

– Emile Gallé in France,

– Antonio Gaudí in Spain,

– Charles Renner Mackintosh in Scotland.

Mackintosh, a Scottish architect, a visionary who created the renowned Hill House Chair or Mackintosh Chair which will become an iconic piece nowadays. It name derived from the project for which he designed it; Hill House.

This chair is unique due to its back that stands 1.41 meters tall. It is not a functional but decorative chair, it is a work of art to be admired. This is the concept that will be underlined later by the Mid Century Design where functionality is the main theme. Here, the opposite happens to underline ornaments, esthetics and furniture as a work of art.

A crucial part of his esthetics his take on the contrast between black and white, and the grid And geometrical patterns.

A school inside Modernism or Art Noveau is the Vienna Secession. A very interesting style that has transcended time and influences architecture and interior design nowadasys. Derived by its named, it surged in Austria and had 18 members –as relevant as Gustav Klimt— which are famous for their work and forerunners of the Bauhuas school in Germany and Art Decó in France.

My second favorite style, and the one school we go to most in the Studio is the Mid Century Modern.


Materialized from 1930 to 1960, as an evolution of Modernism with a very distinct philosophy, as follow:

– Geometric shapes,

– Materials and colors inspired in nature, a predominant use of wood,

– Functionality is key, as opposed to Modernism were ornamentation and beauty were the norm.

This era has brought many of the so-called ICONIC PIECES, which are pieces due to their design and quality can transcend the frontier of time. I have a proclivity to use said pieces in my projects because they age distinctly well, iconic never is out of style.


This is the last of my favorite styles. Contemporary means what is in trend, fashionable, all that is created by technology, knowledge and today’s needs.

Contemporary furniture is comprised by neutral pieces and wide lines, minimal that enable a swift transition between styles to favor a mix.

Contemporary style enables mix in interior design so eclecticism does not seem obsolete, nor a scenery from the past. Contemporary detail and furniture brings about fresh, fashionable, trends that are current to Interior Design,


Now I will share with you my recommendations to create eclectic spaces in your homes or your clients’ houses, for professional Interior Designers.


Start by defining a dominant color for your eclectic space. Follow this a classical rule: 60, 30, 10. This means 60% of a color, which I suggest soft and neutral, 30% of a more daring hue; and 10% of a color that brings joy and accent to the space.

The proposition of neutral but dominant color is for the other 40% to enable main hues, which may be in furniture or art. If we started with a strong color, it wouldn’t enable the mixture of other colors, creating loud and not harmonic music.

I suggest to have one main color in upholstery and walls, without to many prints or patterns, so it can make way for other textures, patters and hues in textiles, art and furniture.


This defines detailing and textile decision making for furniture, drapes and cushions. I have always recommended elements that age well and are in style, constantly.

There is a greater effort and cost in changing upholstery or rethinking cushions versus a marble floor or the wood gallery of a home library.

Choose stoneware and wood fixtures that will not tire your eyes with time, and that will be relevant, in five to ten years.

For textiles and furniture, we can be much more daring.

Eclecticism is about this freedom and enjoyment in mixing different textures and patterns in the same space. This is, the drapes may have a pattern and the cushion and rug, another.

It is relevant to have certain control so the room always looks grounded and not loud or messy, there has to be a soft mixture of elements, textures and patterns.

I am passionate of experimenting different textures in a spaces, so that they have a conversation: the soft and hard textures, the round and flat, the artisanal and the industrial, the refined with the simple, cold with warm.

The eye has to travel inside a space to maintain interest. We are looking for an equilibrium in which no element holds our sight but all are harmonious and dialoguing within the space, enabling the eye to travel in an interesting and soft way.

For example, I enjoy a dining room with wood planks and a marble table. Thus, creating a counterbalance of elements that are warm and cold, that makes the space equilibrated and harmonious.


Furniture is the area in which we are able to incorporate diverse eras and styles within a space.

In an eclectic project, it is necessary to have two to four historical styles, so that it will not resemble a bazaar. There are many keys as taking something old and modern, an heirloom, a remembrance of a voyage with a contemporary piece.


Few and decisive objects. Never buy just to fill up space, such as a library. Place objects that bring remembrances of trips, a moment in your life, people you love or admire. Objects that entice you for its esthetics or quality. Never buy to buy or place just to place.

Eclectic spaces are even more relevant when we follow the previous mantra: few and decisive.

5.- ART

Art is crucial in any interior space and even more so, eclectic projects were mixture is enabled. Try oil paintings from one era and sculptures from a completely different one.

To achieve eclecticism, it is relevant to create art murals, for example, in this picture you can see diverse oil paintings alongside photography and a framed poster.

My recommendations are:

– have fun,

– forget the rigid theories of Interior Design,

– enable your imagination to fly, include heirlooms, antiquities and others that previously had no place in your home,

– do not let the space get out of control –it should never resemble a bazaar,

– and when in doubt, subtract before adding.

I have always moved away from modernist or mid-century scenic. I tend to create mixtures that are modern with personality and invite you to stay. Remember to treat your project as a unique universe: each has its own family story, the pros and cons of architecture, it is an exceptional challenge and budget. Adjust in measure to each of these circumstances.


Design is a verb, therefore an action and not merely a noun. Thus when we design, we aim to achieve different challenges: make people happier, through a function, esthetics or emotion. A betterment in the life of our clients and our own, with small changes in our interiors, we generate positive reactions and therefore, live a fuller life.

A house needs be much more than a den, a house uplifts us emotionally and spiritually. Each space in each project produces specific emotion. For example, a library should invite us to read, a meeting room to be more productive and exchange ideas, a bedroom to rest and a bar area to feel relaxed and entertained.

Interior spaces are a snapshot of its inhabitants –not of the interior designers—and tell us a story about who they are: where have they traveled, what do they collect, which type of art they favor and if they cherish heirlooms. I do intend to show my clients’ houses or office as the tale of their story rather than my own, or my Studio. Eclecticism facilitates to create their narrative.

The best Interior Design is a project that connects between design and human need, the needs of its inhabitants, their dignity and love.

5 May, 2020