Camila Navas, founder of candle company Nlumec, might reside in the artist loft of every creative’s dreams. Previously a soap warehouse, the 1,100-square-foot space in Brooklyn, NY is generously brightened with natural lighting and adorned with artistic relics from across the globe. Modern paintings exist in the same sphere of a Louis XIV mirror which is hung strategically above a vintage leather chair. And, while these elements seem to be strung together effortlessly, they are actually the result of Navas moving in with her architect partner. According to the entrepreneur, the art of combining different interior design styles is more complicated than her cozy haven may suggest.
“Our apartment is the result of us meeting in the middle,” Navas tells TZR, explaining how their interior tastes initially clashed. “He likes to be more minimal and I’m more of an artistic bomb,” she says. The marriage between their aesthetics is undeniable when taking a full look at the space. The room’s base furniture, comprised of a leather sofa, large wooden dining table, bed, leather lounge chair, and marble coffee table follow the same neutral color palette. To add warmth and color, large canvas art, eclectic trinkets picked up from the street, and hints of rich textures are mixed in. And, while this warehouse is beautiful, it’s the unique personality permeating from the decor that really makes the space feel like a home.
Avoid Too Much External Influence
In fact, keeping your design approach as personal and authentic to your home’s inhabitants is the one piece of advice that interior designer, Elena Frampton, principal at Frampton Co swears by. She says asking around for input on a personal space could sometimes lead to its undoing. “A major pitfall is asking too many friends and family for advice. Make your space personal, for you,” Frampton tells TZR.
If there’s anyone who knows how to merge interior design styles together it’s Frampton. Her signature style involves pulling from multiple sources of inspiration, whether it involves organic modern or eclectic aesthetics. The designer’s Fort Greene townhouse project is an accurate representation of this as the living room is a combination of masculine and feminine traits, utilizing a garden variety of colors, textures, and fabrics. It’s glamorous, but more importantly, livable.
Find Common Ground
Frampton’s eye is trained to keep spaces feeling clean without being boring and fun without being over-the-top. “I approach design with a sense of freedom and risk-taking,” the designer says. “Many of the unexpected choices we make come from an intuitive sense, a natural inclination to see opportunity where others see challenges.” But, this is her trade. How do people outside of the interior design world attempt to meld two different aesthetics together? According to Frampton, it’s important to follow one or two focal points and design “loosely” around them. “One mistake is swinging too hard in one direction — either they don’t take enough risks and end up with a vanilla design, or they go overboard with too much of everything, and lose the plot.”
While this is easily applicable to a single person, Frampton’s second trade kicks into overdrive when advising couples on how to apply these techniques to their designs. “Marriage counseling is my second career!” she says. Like any other part of a relationship, Frampton looks to compromise and communication. “Determine the points of agreement first— these are usually functional, like splurging on a comfortable sectional but saving on cost-effective rugs. Then identify the differences, picking and choosing design elements of both to ensure everyone has a win.”
Say there’s a couple where one person dreams of living in a home filled with Scandinavian-style furniture, while the other dreams of a vintage mid-century one. An example of a “win” may look like a large bedroom that has a Scandi-style bed with a vintage chaise set in the room’s lounging area. According to Frampton, it’s essential for couples to communicate their desires, wants, and needs for the space and find an opportunity to incorporate both perspectives.
Collectively Choose A Primary Style
After communication, comes execution. While designing around a “plot” is essential when merging aesthetics together, finding the desired base style of the space is a chore on its own that requires a bit of self-reflection. Interior designer, Victoria Lee Jones, recognizes how difficult it might be for some people to find specific interior design styles that best represent their taste. “It’s natural for us to like multiple things and the idea of merging two different aesthetics together can surely feel overwhelming,” she tells TZR. “The idea of merging aesthetics should begin with identifying your primary style and incorporating elements of another style, whilst finding a balance between them both.” Once this primary style is identified, Jones advises that it should be used to drive “larger purchases” like a sectional or a coffee table. “Then, you can explore individuality in smaller decor pieces, like vases or accent tables, that can be easily restyled.”
But, this can go wrong when couples try to incorporate too much of both desired styles into their space, says Jones. Whether that be adding a gold gilded ornate lamp with a modern, straight-lined desk or placing a Turkish rug under a Louis XIV-styled coffee table, avoid mixing and matching items that don’t naturally complement each other. “I think when people mix styles and it feels random or sloppy, it’s because they are trying to add in every element, texture, and color from both styles, and it becomes completely overloaded.”
While it’s evident that there are certain codes in interior design that one must follow when merging completely different styles together, there’s one truth that all seem to agree on: the incessant need for personality. Whether a couple’s woes are experienced in communicating their interior needs, finding which styles they love, or executing, the need for a space to reflect all parties is a must. After all, these spaces are going to be lived in by you. Whichever aesthetics you choose to merge, your space should be adorned with objects that best match your very own universe.