Angela Todd Portland Interior Designers

What is Eclectic taste anyway?

If I were to ask you what your decorating style is in your home, would you tell me your style is eclectic? If so, your answer is a common answer but it doesn’t tell me a whole lot about your style. What does ‘eclectic’ mean to you?

One commonly published definition of eclectic is blending 70% of one design style and 30% of nother. That common definition makes me giggle. Isn’t the spirit of the word ‘eclectic’ free flowing, artsy, unrestrained and without rules?

The commonly accepted definition of eclectic in interior design is a mix of several styles that make up one individualized look. With this definition, I think all of my clients have eclectic taste. If you tell me what styles make up your eclectic taste, I will begin to understand more about your individualized style.

For those of you that have attended my design classes, I recommend easy to remember ratios when designing in your own home. Try a 60%, 30%, 10% formula when implementing eclectic design in a space. (This also works for color combinations in a room, but I digress.)

This client’s family room located in Wilsonville, Oregon is an eclectic mix of Craftsman (60%), traditional (40%), and Asian Styles(10%). The Craftsman style is primarily reflected in the architecture of the room and in the Mission styled case goods and square ottomans. The traditional element is found in the sofa and chair, the traditionaly styled piano, and many accessories throughout the room. The actual room’s layout also lends itself to a traditional floor plan. The Asian influence in the room is primarily in the artwork (Thai Temple transfers), but can also be found in accessories like the vases and jewel box purchased in the Orient. Also note the fabric pillows tie in the traditional and Craftsman styles with a subtle reminder. We selected these fabrics and had them made via a local workroom.

The master bedroom featured at the top of this post is from a client’s master bedroom in Beaverton, Oregon. It is a blend of traditional (60%), contemporary (40%) and Hollywood Glamour (10%) styles. The traditional element is found in the nightstands and triple serpentine dresser, the tray ceiling and the moulding in the room. The damask bedding is a traditional design expressed in contemporary colors.

The color palette isn’t your grandmother’s idea of traditional design, so the color itself expressed contemporary design. The two chairs at the end of the bed are not only contemporary styled chairs, but the placement of these chairs expresses contemporary layout.

You also see contemporary design expressed in the mismatched dressers (they aren’t predictably symmetrical), the simple linear window treatments, and the clean lines of the room’s artwork and accessories. The 1940’s Hollywood Glam influence is subtle. It serves as icing on the cake (or bling in the room). You also note it’s influence in the crystal knobs on the case goods, the uplight sconces, the leaning brushed silver mirror, and the shape of the lamps and headboard of the bed.

To select your style ratio, start by accessing the architecture in your room. What is the style? If you have furnishings are they a certain style? Try using what you love most in 10% of the style. Your special pieces should placed sparingly for a “wow” factor, so they serve as eye candy to you and all that enter the space.

The infused styles in your home are an individual expression of your families personality, style and activities. The next time someone asks about your personal decorating style answer that you are an eclectic mix of (insert style 1), (insert style 2), with accents of (style 3). Then tell them about your color palette, architecture and furniture selections.

What did you learn about your decorating styles from this post? I welcome you to comment on this blog about your decorating styles. Your eclectic blend of styles is uniquely you and we look forward to learning how your space expresses you.
Angela Todd works with clients to design exceptional, personalized spaces throughout the Portland metropolitian area.


  1. Taresa Nephew says

    Thanks for this article! I hadn’t seen eclecticism expressed in percentages so that helps as I daydream about my rooms in the future. We really enjoy useful furnishings, and would like to make some of our own, so I think eclecticism will fit us best. A blend of contemporary, mainly in the upholstered and non-wood furniture, and arts -and-crafts seems to suit us best. The house we’re buying seems to have made the choice for us. It’s a 1975 tri-level built with two layers of adobe brick with a middle layer of insulation. The bricks were made from the mud in the field. Much of the house says contemporary, arts and crafts, and the sconces say Asian.

  2. amrutha says

    The perfect meaning of eclectisism is explained. I like the idea of ratios of contemporary and traditional mix and a third style which influences ones true taste and likes.
    I would like to read more on different combinations that can be tried by people across each race, relegion, beliefs etc…. that would be great experimentation.

  3. Mary says

    Thanks for the article! I understand now what eclectic means! Ha ha! My husband and I moved into our new home earlier in the year that we had built. I had some friends over and one commented how much she loved our style and everything was so “eclectic”! She seemed really impressed lol! So I thought ok sounds good to me! But I love how you did the percentage breakdown! I totally understand now why she said that! I do love many different things that now that I think of really don’t go exactly together but I’ve chosen carefully what to pair together do things don’t get too crazy! Thanks! Very well written.


  1. […] What is the style of the inspiration piece you have selected?  What is the overall style of the architecture of your room?  What is the style of your furnishings?  Please keep in mind eclectic isn’t a style.  It refers to mixing styles.  Is your home traditional, and some of your pieces are contemporary and some have French flair?  If so, you have three main styles.  I also find that using the thirds rule is also an easy way to make eclectic work.  Divide up your styles in a pleasing ratio.  To learn more about styles, see this previous blog post. […]

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