How to Mix and Match Furniture

Figuring out how to use mismatched furniture can be a daunting home decorating project. Here are some ways to mix and match seemingly unrelated furniture.
Furniture for the home often turns out to be a collection of random pieces: a combination of inherited or second-hand items, pieces from an earlier apartment or house, and some brand-new items. It may seem impossible to arrange this hodgepodge in a way that makes sense and creates a cohesive interior design, but luckily there are options. Here are some basic ways to effectively use an assortment of furniture.

There are a few basic elements that should be taken into consideration when figuring out which pieces to use: line, color, and materials. These elements can be used or adapted to suit the collection of furniture.

  • Lines. The “line” of a furniture piece refers to the shape or style of the item. It can range from the clean, basic lines of a more modern or contemporary sofa to the decorative trim of an ornate dining chair from the Victorian era.
  • Color. Color is another attribute that can unite a collection of furniture. A traditional dining room table with an assortment of vintage dining chairs looks natural if the wood or stain on each item is the same.
  • Textiles. The textiles used in the furniture is another element that, combined intentionally with other pieces, can unify a room of random furniture.

When deciding whether a certain set of pieces will work together, think about the above elements as they apply to the pieces. If two pieces have similar lines, for example, they will likely work well in the same space–even more so if they are both painted white or have cushions from the same color family.

Here are some examples of unmatching furniture pieces, and how to use them in the same space:

  • A traditional tufted armchair and a modern cube bookshelf. While the lines of these pieces may differ, color may be an easy place to find common ground. Try slip-covering the armchair in a neutral tone like beige, chocolate brown, or white. Match the bookshelf to the slipcover, either with a fresh coat of paint or by strategically-placed accessories.

  • An antique blanket chest and a sleek platform bedframe. The worn appearance of a second-hand blanket chest may look odd next to a clean dark brown or white platform bed. Capitalize on these pieces’ similar lines and suit them to each other with a few minor adjustments. Try painting the blanket chest to match the bed frame, or unify them with textiles. Place the blanket chest next to a bedroom windowsill and arrange some throw cushions with similar colors to the bedding to create a makeshift window seat.
  • A basic futon sofa and a large vintage footstool. A plain beige or brown futon and a footstool with a patterned cushion don’t appear to have much in common. A simple addition of some throw pillows may solve the issue: pick out one or two colors from the footstool and make cushion or pillow covers that match. The similar colors will pop out against the neutral futon and unite these pieces.

Designing a cohesive living space with a variety of furniture types and styles does not have to be a headache. Taking the elements of line, color, and textiles into consideration will help create a stylish room that looks pulled together.