Get the look. Candelabra ($50; Big Pagoda, or 415/296-8881). Chairs ($215 each; Friend, or 415/552-1717). Table and 17th-century pr
Thomas J. Story

Create your own look with unexpected combinations

Mary Jo Bowling

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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