Lessons in the Art of Mix & Match from Our House Tours

If there's one mantra pervading the entire shelter industry, it's avoid matchy-matchy at all costs. After all, variety is the spice of life. Well, a jog through the homes I've photographed for you over the past year revealed some of the most important lessons in mastering the art of the mix.

• Mix style eras. In both Angelique & Dan's Feminine Vintage Harmony (picture 1) and Saule & Chris's Clean Eclectic Family Home (picture 3), the owners mix iconic mid-century modern seating in with traditional pieces for a look that's collected, fresh, and interesting.

• Don't be a slave to bed sets. In their East Coast Yuppie Bungalow (picture 2) Aaron and Shannon created a warm and eclectic vibe in their bedroom with an uncommon and upbeat mix of patterns and textures on the bedding. Hallie and Mark of Hip Slice of History house tour fame employed a similar tactic in their guest bedroom (picture 4), creating a layered and casual bohemian feel by combining orphaned bedding items in a variety of prints and styles.

• Throw in an unexpected accessory. The feminine ruffled pillows in the understated rustic living room of Meredith's Historic Farmhouse Dream (picture 5), is a great example of using something "off" to keep a neutral room from becoming too mushy. Likewise, in their Layered and Luminous Arlington Retreat (picture 6), Marya & Rick's used animal print inspired upholstery on a single arm chair, which shakes up the whole feel of the otherwise neutral and traditional living room) It can be a piece of art, an accent color, or a throw, but one small "off" factor influences the whole feel of a room.

• Counter-balance strong styles. Every room in both Zoe and Trey's Refined Eclectic Georgetown Digs (picture 7) and Allison's Playful Chinoiserie Modern (picture 8) could be a lesson in variety, but their living rooms deserve special attention. Zoe counterbalances the rustic exposed brick and stag hags with a mix of plush and polished furniture which gives the whole room an air of collected sophistication. Allison plays down the formality and daintiness of chinoiserie inspired pieces with a bold striped rug.

Images: Leah Moss for Apartment Therapy