Thomas J. Story

Create your own look with unexpected combinations

Interior design trends shift like tides. One year it's all about midcentury modern, the next it's tradition with a capital T. But there's a surefire way to keep things fresh: Mix periods and styles fearlessly for an eclectic look. Make a contemporary piece your own with playful juxtapositions of texture, color, and form. These three key principles help you pull it off.

1. Contrast textures for warmth. A smooth manmade surface next to a natural material adds richness to any interior. Here the sinuous lines of the space-age Verner Panton plastic chairs look even bolder against the wood grain of the antique kitchen table. The finishing touch: a traditional candelabra given a modern twist in glass.

2. Add color to a neutral backdrop. On its own, the minimalist sofa can be somewhat stark and uninviting. Brighten the room with splashes of hot reds and oranges in bold paisley patterns, and add a Persian rug updated in recycled plastic. The rounded coral lamp would be right at home in a drawing room, but here it's more cutting edge than classic. Ditto the Asian-inspired red garden stool, which adds an element of offhand glamour.

3. Group similar shapes together. It's the oldest design trick in the book-no matter when a piece was made, curvy lines pair well with curvy lines, straight with straight. Case in point: The grooved, organic forms of Bahari's modern pottery blend seamlessly with the fluid shapes of classic Bauer pitchers.

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