What does it mean for furniture to match? Is it the colour, style, material, or size? And, is it important? Let’s take a look at some design principles for the bedroom, to get to the bottom of this question.
Some people love to have a streamlined home, with everything in matching neutral hues to create a peaceful and de-cluttered environment to relax in. Others, however, find it more calming to be in a home filled with a warm and eclectic mix of pieces from their travels. There are some guiding principles, either way, to keep your bedroom looking put together and welcoming. Going too far in one direction, can result in a bland and stark bedroom with no warmth or life. Going too far in the other can result in an overcrowded and chaotic feeling, which is the opposite of what you want in the bedroom. Let’s look at how to create harmony, through a mix of matching and non matching furniture.
The answer in the end, definitively, is that your furniture do not all need to match, but having variation on a theme is the best way to go. Having different furniture in your bedroom that doesn’t match exactly gives you the opportunity to include different styles, textures, and colors in the decor. Neither are you limited in terms of picking out designs that will improve your decor: If you’d like to have a dresser that is in a different finish or color from that of your nightstands, you totally can, and in fact, I think it’s a great idea. I think different wood finishes, paint colours, and materials create interest and beauty in the bedroom. Although matching furniture sets used to be a popular trend back in the day, some consider it to be quite boring and outdated. But not all matching furniture is bad. There are some that prefer this option and it can give a bedroom a solid style and foundation. Just buying a matching set can take all of the design work out of furnishing your bedroom, and from there, you can mix things up with accessories and other decor items. If you want to be able to mix and match freely, with confidence, here are ten design principles that will help you through the process.
10 Design Principles for Mixing and Matching In The Bedroom
1. Choose a Theme
It becomes so easy to mix it up and choose pieces that don’t match when you choose a theme and stick with it. There can be many variations on the theme, but if you have that core guiding principle it can get you through the difficult decisions of what can stay and what needs to go. I love this because it provides a sense of consistency and stability in the room, while allowing for flair and difference. You can choose any theme your heart desires, whether it be seaside cabin, sleek modern condo, or antique farmhouse. From this theme, feel free to pick out pieces that vary: this can be in colour, size, texture, style, time period, etc… With at least a majority of large pieces in the room being of your dominant style, the room for play will still leave you with a bedroom that feels put together and beautiful.
2. Start With a Few Pieces of Furniture
A great way to figure out a design for your bedroom is by finding a few key pieces of furniture that you absolutely love, and then working off of them. Working off of them does not necessarily mean matching with them. While it can mean matching, there is so much more you can do to make sure that they work together. Picking out a stain of wood, or a similar curving shape, or even a table height can be great ways to create consistency across pieces while leaving room for variation. If you’re someone who doesn’t have a great vision of the entire room before starting, and need a jumping off point, then this option is a great way to go. It gives you something to build off of that you know you love, most likely making everything else move in that direction. I know this can be great for people who love to travel and collect new pieces for their home over time, meaning that you can keep adding as you go.
3. Create a Conversation
Something I like to say about things that don’t exactly match, but make sense together and work in harmony, is that they are in conversation. Creating a conversation between all of the elements of your bedroom will make it feel put together, but also warm and interesting, not a bland flat display of beige. If you want to pair things by this model, a lot of it is based on intuition. It’s good to try things out and see how they work. If it is artwork, place them on the wall next to each other and see if it feels right. There are colours, textures, and styles that can make pieces have this dialogue with each other, but it can also come down to your personal taste. Pulling out elements from pieces that fit together can be personal, and sometimes the better you know the pieces the more able to do it you will be. If, however, you are buying all new furniture, using this principle can be a great way to get around just buying a set at box store, and give you a good guiding principle to mix it up. Even if you do decide to buy the set, there are many other ways to customize you bedroom beyond the furniture. Accessories and art provide a great way to add complexity and diversity to the room, adding interest and vibrancy while you have the anchoring base of the matching furniture.
4. Don’t be Afraid to Mix Warm and Cold
Something that happens a lot that creates many uninteresting rooms is people thinking they have to choose a colour scheme and stick to it. Choosing to use only warm or cool colour tones with each other can work in certain contexts, and create a really beautiful soothing palette. However, it is really not necessary, and sometimes works against you. In this context, matching can work, but is certainly not the only way to go. Warm and cool colours can compliment each other perfectly, creating a lovely balance in the room, that will lend to you feeling relaxed and at peace in it.
5. Use Balance
Speaking of balance, the number one principle to guide you through the process of mixing and matching is balance. While with matching, you don’t have to do much and the pieces just fit together, if you do decide to mix it up, you will need to find a way to create harmony. With scale, I like to think of it as a balance between large scale and small scale items. If you have a large bed, you will need some other large pieces of furniture to counter balance it, but then also want more delicate pieces so the room doesn’t feel bulky. You can try a large bed frame with a thin frame on a painting above the bed, or a large fluffy area rug with a smaller and more refined desk. With colours, you can use a balance of warm and cool colours as we discussed above. With textures, it’s great to mix rougher textures with softer ones.
6. Don’t be Afraid to mix Eras
Many of our homes feature décor and furniture that’s a real blend of different styles and periods. Whether it’s mixing old and new architecture, incorporating an inherited family heirloom, weaving in pieces from trips abroad or simply contrasting colours, it’s rare not to find some form of experimentation in people’s homes nowadays. There is such a thing as too many good ideas at once. When it comes to style, there’s a useful rule that helps to avoid this – the golden ‘rule of three’. So, for example, if you have, or are designing, a Shaker-style kitchen, you could complement it with contemporary flooring and Art Deco pendants above the dining table. However, do not then choose a Victorian or 1950s dining table, as this will be an overload of styles. Alternatively, as seen in this grand kitchen, you could mix and match a more traditional Versailles pattern timber flooring with contemporary lights and Art Deco furniture. A wonderful antique architectural detail in a modern space creates a stunning juxtaposition, as illustrated in this striking kitchen. The very clean lines of the kitchen, flooring and plain ceiling create the ideal setting for this window. If your home has a feature that’s beautiful or one of a kind, protect it and enhance its uniqueness by toning down everything else around it.
7. Focus on Texture
Texture is a great place to start with creating variance in the bedroom. Especially if you’re not ready to mix up colours or styles, which can feel like a larger commitment. Playing with textures is a subtle but beautiful way to start moving away from matching and expanding your design repertoire. To create cohesiveness when mixing and matching bedroom furniture, you need items that have common repeating elements. For example, maybe your headboard is dark wood. You could then match it with a dresser or nightstand with a similar tone. Maybe the nightstand has metal bar drawer pulls which you can then match to the legs of your desk, and so on and so forth. Whether it’s material, texture, color, or even a design, adding items that repeat elements throughout your room creates a sense of consistency and cohesion for your entire space.
8. Try Tone on Tone
Pair like with like when it comes to a family of hues, and you’re golden. When you mix tone-on-tone, it’s virtually impossible to do it wrong. If you love a monochromatic palette but want to add some interest and richness, consider mixing in variations of the same color: it’s a from of matching, but with flair. Use a fluid or dynamic wallpaper with different shades of your base color, and then add in wood with a neutral wash and other richer fabrics like velvet, It will look cohesive yet so dynamic and interesting.The first step in using tone on tone in the bedroom is to consider the lightness and darkness of different colors. For instance, it’s common in the bedroom space to use tone on tone in a headboard against a wall, as in the photo above. The wall may have a slightly deeper tone than a lighter headboard, for instance. In that way, the headboard matches the wall nicely, while not totally blending into it. Bedding can also have different shades or tones of the base color, as can rugs, drapery and wall art. It all combines to create plenty of visual interest in the room. In that way, you can use one color family without the space looking dull or uninspired.
9. Mix Shapes and Scales
In addition to mixing and matching materials, incorporate a variety of shapes and sizes of furniture into your bedroom, too, Backstein advises. “Don’t be afraid to include round shapes with square shapes, or curved lines with straight lines,” she says. “The best way to work these pieces together is through balance. If you make sure to repeat these elements throughout the space, there is no question that it will all come together to create harmony!” No matter what types of pieces you’re using, you’ll want to ensure that they are all the correct proportions for the space. “It’s important to consider the size of the items that you are considering and make sure they work with the items that they will be placed beside,” Backstein notes. So don’t go too small or too large when it comes to selecting furniture. “If you have a large wall that you place your bed against and place small side tables next to it, it will automatically feel like something is off, especially if there is a lot of wall space left on either end,” Backstein adds. “Keeping in mind the scale of the items you are considering and making sure that you are selecting the right sizes will also help to unify they space.”
10. Have Fun with It!
One of the most important parts of any interior design project is to have fun with it. Whether you decide that matching or mixing it up is right for you, or you decided o do a little bit of both, you want to make sure that you are able to express your own style and feel the joy in designing and living in the space. Many people take a lot of joy in having a bedroom and home that is eclectic, full of colours and different styles, and potentially even clutter. Others, however, love to have a clean sleek home with a monochrome colour scheme and minimal objects. There is no right answer, yet you have to make sure the process and end result are fun for you.
Now, here are a few mistakes that can be made that you should make sure to avoid.
Three Common Mistakes to Avoid:
1. Matching Sets
Back before I were ever interested in home decor, I purchased furniture a bit differently. For example, if I were in need of furniture for a bedroom you might find me heading to a big box store to pick up a matching bedroom set for a bargain. The bed, dresser, nightstands, side tables….all of them matching and ready to fill up the room! I understand that those bedroom sets are a deal and that can be hard to pass up! Especially when you have a room to furnish and you just want to be finished with the whole affair. Having some matching furniture is not a bad thing. But you probably don’t want your loveseat, couch, coffee table, and side table to all match. But these days, that super matchy-matchy look is considered outdated. In fact, getting a matching set can make the room feel downright impersonal and sterile. Think: more boring hotel room and less interesting and stylish home. Some of them can match to keep a cohesive look, but if everything is the exact same…you’re going to end up with a cookie-cutter look that lacks personality. However, swapping out one of the matching pieces could make a big difference in the space.
2. Not Layering
One of the most common mistakes with people attempting to create a cohesive and clean bedroom is not layering. It is one of the best ways to pull together different elements and create a sense of warmth and beautiful design. Don’t be afraid to layer! Whether it’s just a blanket, throw pillows, or layering different elements like an area rug and foot stool with a colourful painting. If you aren’t sure how to choose colors for your furniture, you can use the other decor elements in your room for inspiration. If you have area rugs, wall art, lighting, or window treatments that fit in a color scheme, you can use those colors in your furniture as well. Another way that you can achieve a cohesive look is to choose furniture pieces that are different colors but the same style. The common style among the pieces will give your space a cohesive look even if you choose to use different colored furniture. Pull the room together even more by decorating with accents of the same style as well. Accent pieces layered with basics is a great way to create consistency with simultaneous interest, depth, and richness.
3. Sticking to Outdated Rules
Just because your grandmother had a matching set of floral sheets and side table drapes, does not mean you have to too. Styles and trends have changed, and I think for the better. While there are elements you can pull from the past, it’s great to keep things contemporary in overall feeling. There’s an age-old saying that rules are made to be broken, and nowhere is that more true than in the design world. I like to think that there are almost no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to home decor — with something as personal as design, who’s to say what you can and can’t love? Still, there are tried-and-true design “rules” that help contextualize trends or give a sense of order, and some of those catch fire and become tentpoles of modern design, just waiting for someone brave enough to come along, “break” them, and show us the way.
The consensus amongst many is that matching to a tee is a thing of the past, and it creates a lot more interest to layer with colours textures and styles. At the same time, the bedroom is a space of calm and serenity. It can be lovely to have the serenity of matching colour palettes and streamlined furniture. There is so much room to explore new ideas, and your own unique design style. While it used to seem that one, maybe two prints max — that’s the rule, right? Not anymore. Thanks to the return of traditional prints and the rise of design styles like grandmillennial, dimensional pattern mixing is back in a big way. While more than a few patterns were once regarded as garish and over-the-top, mainstream design is slowly awakening to bolder, layered prints. Similarly with styles, there are so many historic and contemporary styles available to us now, and they often can compliment each other in so many ways. Instead of feeling that you need to stick to any matching rules, now is the time to play with textures, colours, materials, and scales. Take advantage of the freedom and accessibility of so many different products on the market, and have fun with it!