How I Created an Eclectic Style in My Apartment in Nice
Although I’ve never been an interior designer by trade, so much of my career as a chef and restaurateur depends on the design of a space. Designing your perfect home is different, though. You want the space to be beautiful – to inspire you every time you walk through the door – but more than anything, it must feel like home, which is not (always) the purpose of a restaurant, office or studio. But at the same time, I can’t deny that there are similarities between my places of work and my living space. I love a minimalist kitchen that is super functional and efficient, for instance – both at work and at home – but the moment I sit down to relax, I want the space to envelop me, to comfort and nurture. I also like to create “nooks” within a space into which I can escape, whether to curl up with a good book or to design a layout for a story in the Journal, create a new menu, or paint a still life. My home is made for living in. It’s a place where I can truly be myself. And to be myself, I fill the space with things that inspire me and bring me joy – no matter how unrelated they may seem.
It was only years after I created my first living space (I was still a student) that I realised I had an “eclectic” style. Until that point, I had just put things together and when I felt that spark of electricity, I knew it worked for me. I approach food in the same way, come to think of it. But when you want consistency – when you want to figure out what makes something work so you can do it again – it pays to do a bit of research. To me, it was delving into what exactly eclectic means and taking it from there.
In a nutshell, eclecticism means mixing and matching. It’s when you blend different styles, like let’s say, art deco with chinoiserie, or mid-century furniture with more contemporary statement pieces. It’s when the whole becomes something unique that sums up your personal style. Some interior decorators would go a step further by classifying your personal style as boho or glam eclectic, but in my opinion, you don’t need to go that far. You do you.
When putting an eclectic space together, you’re basically doing the unexpected. Mix different prints, patterns, textures and other design elements that wouldn’t normally go together. Also, play around with furniture from different time periods in the same space. It creates an interesting conversation, doesn’t it? But above all, you need to make it look easy, so don’t try too hard – it always shows. To pull it off, here are some tips I discovered along the way that can help you to bring it all together effortlessly (or make it look that way).
The easiest way to bring a mismatched collection of furniture and other decorative elements together is with a unifying colour. A neutral wall works, but you can repeat a colour with lots of different elements, from your scatters and throws to your side tables and lamps.
The whole point of an eclectic space is to mix and match, whether it’s patterns, prints or textures. But there’s a skill to it. By repeating a sequence, in other words repeating the same patterns, prints and textures in the same space makes for greater visual harmony, because it feels more deliberate – and not like an accident.
This one is not as tricky as it sounds. Think of movie genres. There’s comedy, action, drama, art house, horror, thriller… the list goes on. Whether telling a story, designing furniture or cooking, it’s all about the conventions you use. In the world of interiors, genre is the difference between Scandinavian design and shabby chic, or minimalist and rustic. There are so many styles. I’ve never taken genre too seriously. A Ming vase either goes with a Bauhaus table or it doesn’t, no matter what you call it.
Think about a good photograph or painting. There’s usually something that grabs your attention – something that draws the eye to it. Your space is no different. Create intrigue by painting one wall a bold colour or bring in that one piece of furniture that makes a big statement. On a smaller scale, an elegant table alongside a wall with a beautiful plant or collection of ornaments on it could give the eye a place to linger for a while.
We eclectic souls can often fall victim to hoarding. I’ve been guilty of it myself; that unwillingness to let go of something because you don’t want to miss it when it’s there. There’s a difference between nostalgia and sentimentality. What’s that saying again? When you love someone let them go? Try it with that old biscuit tin you were told once belonged to your great-grandmother’s first school friend. Chances are, you’ll feel a lot lighter. Don’t confuse eclectic with clutter. It’s never a good look.