Toris Design Box

MIX DON’T MATCH

The true and tested formula of mix don’t match is having a second coming. When decorating you may mix but you must also follow the basic rules of design or you may end up with a space that is more disharmony than distinctive. Restless rather than refreshing. Create a carefully curated space that looks effortless rather than a random mix that shows lack of planning and effort.  The essence is in the details.

Mix Colors –

 Don’t try to match wall colors with the exact shades of the soft furnishings in the room with the artwork with the curtain fabric. It will end up looking either too insipid or trying too hard and failing to get an exact match. There is bound to be variations even if you select the same color.  When combining shades and tones of the same color within a space, the way each element reflects – or absorbs light – is crucial.

What are tints, shades and tone?

Adding white to a pure color creates a tint. Any of the basic twelve colors with pure white added to it produces a tint or pastel palette. Tints are softer and more subtle than the pure colors hence they are often associated with pastel.

Adding black to a color creates shades. Shades can range from medium to very dark  depending on the amount of black added to the color. Black should always be added with caution because it can easily become overpowering. Increasing the contrast will also produce a deeper shade of a color.

Adding black and white, or gray, to a pure color, creates tones of a color. Most of the colors we see in our world on a daily basis are tones of a pure color. Tones have the qualities of a pure color but are not as intense, because they are “toned down.” Be cognizant of the rules and stay within a tonal range.  

Mix Styles –

It is always a good idea to create an organic space with one dominant style and a healthy mix of one other style that is compatible but different from the original one. A study of multiple Parisian apartments confirms that a careful combination of styles results in a sophisticated yet livable space. Most European interiors are able to achieve this effortless yet stylish look by following this rule of design.

'Many different styles - mix don't match

A Mid-Century Modern room can breathe with one or two British Colonial Campaign style pieces of furniture and a room decorated in Hollywood Regency style will benefit hugely from a touch of the Modern Neoclassical. Art Deco can sometimes blend well with Modern or benefit from incorporating one or two items in an Eclectic Global style. Chinoiserie mixes well with French Toile.   

Mix Finishes –

I get a lot of questions from clients enquiring about if and when to combine different wood finishes within a room and how to do it successfully. When it comes to kitchens there seems to be some confusion about whether it is a good idea to combine countertop and backsplash materials and finishes. Same with how and when to combine different materials for the vanity, the shower walls and flooring in bathroom remodels

Mix textures –

This is a must if you want to create a room that is interesting – as opposed to blah – as well as restful. For a room that also looks updated and high end as opposed to dated or cheap mix don’t match textures

Many textures - Mix don't match

A well designed room such as the one above will have a combination of gloss with matte and showcase textures such as glass, metal, raffia, wicker and fabric mixed in together.

Mix scales –

I always tell my clients that small sized rooms benefit from substantial pieces of furniture. Conversely, in large rooms one can introduce multiple small items of furniture mixed in with larger pieces. Smaller pieces that might otherwise make a small room appear tinny or busy. Here again it is important to remember the rules of design so as not to get lost in the how and how big is too big and how many small pieces might one add in a large room?

Mix patterns –

This step is tricky! Before executing this step do a quick study of how the different patterns react to one another.  

Do plaids work with florals?  How does a paisley print relate to a geometric pattern? Would a sofa covered in a fabric with blush cabbage roses on an off white background work well against a dark green palm leaf pattern wallpaper. Or can I choose the same wallpaper in an ecru shade …..and make it work….etc etc.

Pattern mix bedroom

Photo credits –

Mixing colors – image of Living Room in mix don’t match shades of gray and yellow courtesy Elledecor.com ~  Style mix – ëclectic Living Room with gate leg table and modern accent chairs courtesy Lonny.com ~ Mixing finishes – image of earth tone living room – courtesy ballardesigns.com – Texture mix – photo of David Netto-created Connecticut dining room courtesy Verandah.com ~ Different Scales – image of bi-level living room with white sectional sofa courtesy Goodhousekeeping.com ~ Pattern Mix – courtesy Architecturaldigest.com

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