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Eclecticism in Action

By Christa Terry

I recently read a wonderful quote with which I wholeheartedly agree. In Cottage Living, designer Jeffrey French said:

“I never rush clients to completion because if you furnish an entire house at once, it looks like a snapshot of what was available at that time. Instead, houses need to evolve like epic stories with chapters from different time periods.”

The sentiment really resonates with me even though French was talking about furniture and accessories from different era as opposed to furniture and accessories from different styles and sources. My own home is filled with things I’ve found in stores, in thrift shops, in my grandparents’ home, in my travels, and, though I am always somewhat loathe to admit it, on curbs. Some of it is new, some is very old, some is mass produced, and some is handmade.


The homes I like best tend to be those whose decor has evolved over time. A room put together all at once risks looking too much like a catalog or a temporary space created just for a magazine shoot. The only downside to letting one’s home evolve naturally is that there are transitional periods. A room may not seem quite right until you find that perfect piece that pulls it all together. A perfect thrift store find may temporarily throw a room out of balance.

Unless you have scads of money and a personal shopper, you just have to be patient and wait for your personal spaces to blossom. All I can say is that you’ll be glad you did because the eventual result will be so much more YOU than a pre-fab design scheme would have been.

2 Responses to “Eclecticism in Action”

  1. La Petite Acadienne Says:

    That IS an excellent quote. The key is to make sure that you’re keeping your older (or hand-me-down) things because you genuinely do love them, not because you feel obligated to keep them. If you continue to evolve your rooms, only keeping that which you truly love, then yes, the result will be much better than an insta-room from a catalogue.

  2. rural juror Says:

    Great post-I agree completely. One of the comments on this last season of Top Design that really resonated with me was a criticism that one room looked as if all the furniture had been bought at the same store. No personality- totally sterile.

    My own desire for my house is that each item, whether decorative or functional, be unique and interesting in some way. I love houses that remind me of miniature museums or curio stores; wherever you look is an item that MEANS something.

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    Christa Terry
    (a.k.a. Never teh Bride)


    Manolo the Shoeblogger