5 Tips for Merging Two Decorating Styles

{The following is my June/July 2015 Her Decor column with HerMind Magazine:}

Merging two people’s possessions can be challenging, especially if you are combining different styles. Ultimately the merge is about embracing the person and his/her interests and history without getting too caught up in the stuff itself. Easier said than done? Here are a few tips to get you started. 

Determine what items are non-negotiable. What pieces must stay because they hold special meaning, serve a purpose (perfect reading chair) or make you smile every time you see them? If space is an issue agree to only keep the non-negotiable items.

Start with a blank slate. If you have large pieces of furniture that will be incorporated into an already full room, try emptying the room out and starting fresh with all of the new pieces in mind. This eliminates the “there’s no room” excuse. Refill the space with function in mind and repurpose pieces in different rooms if needed.


Mix up the fabrics. If your styles are very different (traditional and contemporary) consider reupholstering a new sofa or chair that will be added to the mix. Furnishings with traditional lines can look great with a contemporary fabric (and vice versa). This allows both styles to be present without feeling out of place.

Use color to tie styles together. If reupholstering furniture doesn’t make sense or isn’t in the budget, consider adding unifying accessories to a room to tie two or more pieces together. If red is found in both pieces, add red accessories into the room via pillows, throws, keepsakes or art. Use a color that both parties like.

Create rotating collections. If you have art and accessories that you need to mix, consider creating a rotating table or wall gallery. For six months feature your traditional blue and white porcelain on the entry table, followed by six months of his collection of vintage cameras. Add picture ledges to a room to rotate art collections.