“Something old / something new / Something borrowed / something blue.” This traditional rhyme detailing what every bride should wear to her wedding, in order to bring good luck may as well be the mantra of the eclectic, as well.
Eclectic, by way of a simple definition, refers to anything that derives ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources; or to the person who does such. I like to think of it as the ability to colour outside the lines, and find coordination in the chaos, order in the disarray, and beauty in the seeming hodge-podge randomness of it all.
Mind you, the eclectic style may not be for everyone. There are those who prefer to stay within the lines of style; playing it safe at every turn. Then there are the rule-breakers; those who defy the gurus of widely-accepted “good taste” and go out on a wing that is decidedly left-off-style’s center. And these days, the defiant are growing in number.
Purveyors of the eclectic are an ever-increasing group, as the style has become all the rage in recent times; perhaps in protest of the generic and the ordinary. Indeed, many have jumped on the bandwagon of eclecticism; and what an offbeat, quirky, and fun bandwagon it is.
From architecture and art, to fashion and furniture; even psychology, martial arts (Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do is considered an eclectic method), philosophy and religion, the eclectic style has made its mark.
It is also sweeping the home scene like wildfire, with interiors taking on more and more of a “mixed-up” nature. Think: a dining set with purposely mismatched chairs; an antique window made into a room divider or shelf; a wagon wheel made into a coffee table. Undeniably, the eclectic home is hot, hot, hot!
Daring to be different
Those who have ventured into eclecticism’s oft unchartered territory know that there is great freedom to be had in the journey. There is an exhilaration that comes with this unbridled self-expression; a self-confident exuberance that comes from giving your individuality a voice. This is the perfect way to rise above the humdrum, ho-hum daily grind. Choosing to go eclectic is choosing to break out of the mold: no cookie-cutters here, please.
Eclecticism is also perfect for those who cannot seem to pick a favorite style and for those who “want it all.” Personally, this is probably the main reason I love the style so much. I am ALWAYS hard-pressed to pick a favorite of anything! I blame it on an innate sense of joie de vivre; life simply has too much to offer and too much to be enjoyed!
And, as you may have surmised (and safely so), the choice to go eclectic is one that appeals to those who are a touch – or more – rebellious. That rebel streak is appeased by the absence (and often, even defiance) of hard and fast rules when going eclectic.
But wait! There’s more! Those on a budget will delight to know that this style can be gentle on the pocket, since you do not have to get all your pieces in one go. Remember, mixing-and-matching is key, so you can slowly build up all the different elements, as your money permits.
Laugh in the face of rules, but don’t forget the guidelines
The number one rule of the eclectic style is THERE ARE NO RULES. This is what makes it so much fun!
HOWEVER, there are some guidelines towards achieving the aesthetic eclectic. An eclectic look that works requires thought and effort. In fact, truth be told, It requires a little bit more thought and effort than simple, straightforward decorating with a unified theme. Much like a messy bun or a tousled hairstyle often necessitates more time than a neat and slick look.
But the creative freedom and fun in the process of eclectic decorating makes the effort worthwhile. The end result is something uniquely your own!
Pulling-off the not-so-pulled-together look that is the trademark of eclectic requires first off that you have a clear idea of the space with which you are working. It would help to clear out the room, and determine three decor “anchors.” These anchors will be your starting point for the entire look and feel of the space. Don’t get carried away into eclectic wonderland, or else you will end up with a confused cornucopia of ideas. See the look in your mind’s eye, then begin to arrange. Remember: funky with finesse is the general look of eclectic; not frumpy and frantic or frazzled.
The shape of the room, or any distinct architectural features therein (a post, an exposed industrial-type ceiling; this sort of thing) could serve as one anchor and inspiration for your look. Likewise, your favorite, unique or sentimental pieces – a vase, a work of art, a favorite chair, vintage décor,a light fixture, a family heirloom, for instance – could be another anchor for your eclectic fantasy.
Colour can also keep you from falling off eclectic’s deep end. In fact, one of your anchors should be a colour, the choice of which is entirely up to you. Your pick can be based on personal taste, or perhaps on a dominant colour in a favorite accent piece or item of furniture. Check out colour swatches at your local paint or hardware store for inspiration.
Now comes the tricky part: if you wish to add items to what you already have, shop for pieces that are somehow related with your three anchors. This could be a tad daunting, but so much fun! Keep your eye out for similarities in styling, color, period, texture and finish. DO NOT MATCH THINGS! Matching is the nemesis of the eclectic style. Rather, think of it as “tying in” the pieces with your three anchors. The result will be a sophisticated yet quirky, polished but edgy feel.
A rule of thumb would be this: the more similar the accents or decor pieces to your anchor pieces, the more you can buy. For example, when buying throw pillows, get them some in the same colour scheme as one of your anchors, and buy lots to create a kitschy lounge feel.
The opposite applies, as well, by way of a rule of thumb: items that are dissimilar to your anchors (for instance, a contrasting colour) are best used sparingly, as accent pieces. In the true spirit of rebellion, however, the number of accent pieces allowed is not set in stone. If you see one absolutely off-the-wall piece that simply must have, go for it! You can always rearrange things, to accommodate the piece.
So now that you have the eclectic idea spinning in your head, where to go for fabulous finds? Well, in Manila, I have my fave haunts (much of the haunting happens online, if you must know.) And with the advent of the internet and online shopping, you might find that they deliver overseas – it can’t hurt to ask, or – at the very least – whet your eclectic appetite by browsing through their pages.
First on my list is the place that breathes new life into tired old furniture, Resurrection Furniture and Found Objects Gallery, on Alabama Street in Quezon City. Browse through their Facebook page, and you will see why I simply adore this shop! By way of a brief profile on their page, their mission is to “give new life to found objects, salvaged materials and junk by turning them into something functional & whimsical.” This is the perfect place to find one (or all) of your three anchor pieces, as each item of furniture is a marriage of creative flair, fanciful fun, and timeless elegance; all joined together with impeccable craftsmanship. The result? Vintage quirkiness that is sure to set-off any eclectic space rather nicely. Oh, and they also customize (they admittedly enjoy the challenge of customizing, so do not hesitate to let them know what floats your boat.)
Those looking for something with a touch more Asian inspiration need look no further than Ixxam Neo-Retro Finds. This treasure trove of goodies is located in a big warehouse in Veteran’s Center in the city of Taguig. Designers and craftsmen put a modern twist on retro and antique pieces, old and exotic wood furniture, decor & accent pieces, collectibles & other accessories for your home. This is the spot to find something your grandmother might have owned, but with a hip and trendy feel.
And last, but certainly not least, on my list of must-check-out home havens is the Bangkal Furniture Market in Barangay Bangkal, Makati City. The stretch of Evangelista street (and surrounding streets, as well) is lined with shop-after-shop of unique vintage pieces, curios and antiques. Check out some of the stores in Bangkal at Travelibre.
So what are you waiting for? Ditch the rules, forget the lines; say goodbye to the common-place, and say hello to the eclectic craze!