10 Tips That’ll Help Fix a Room Where Nothing Quite Goes Together

updated Oct 29, 2019
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Making a room match isn’t as easy as it seems. Scrolling through Instagram and seeing perfectly staged living rooms and bedrooms make it seem like buying the right furniture and tchotchkes will be a breeze. But, as I started to decorate my first adult apartment with non-hand-me-down items, I realized it was an impossible chess game.

The couch seemed great in the storeroom, but it completely clashed with the kitchen island. The mid-century desk was gorgeous, but it didn’t seem to go with my old-school dining room table. Whenever I bought something to counterbalance the erraticness of the room, I tipped the scale in another direction, and another corner needed fixing. It was a toxic cycle.

If you’re in the same boat,  you have come to the right place. Ahead are tips on how to fix a room that doesn’t match, straight from interior designers. 

1. Create a Cohesive Color Story

You can tie together a hodge-podge room by pulling recurring colors in the space.

“The best trick to fix a room that doesn’t match is to work backward and figure out what colors you have most of, then find either a large piece of art that incorporates these colors or a rug that has the majority of the colors within the design,” Monika Ross, founder of Monika Ross Design LLC, says. “This will make the space feel cohesive, and having a wide range of items you love in a room adds so much personality and creates an eclectic layered look”

Sara Bengur of Sara Bengur Interiors agrees with this point, and says righting a mismatched room takes layering and editing.

“Layer by adding colorful pillows, throws, lampshades, artwork, and unique accessories for the room, and the design starts evolving and becoming cohesive. It is very much like a painting; you have to keep adding color and forms to integrate the parts that do not work.” 

Credit: Carina Romano

2. Pick Your Pillows

Have you ever felt like a room felt empty without a few throw pillows sprucing up the place? That’s because those decorative accents help to anchor a room. So if your space is feeling off-balance, invest in a few pillows that can help pull it back on even ground.

“Consider finding a ‘wow’ fabric that has all of the room’s colors as a starting point. Then, add in a few animal prints as an accent, paired with a few solid ones, too. I find that pillows, throws, and statement art seem to always make the room feel more polished,” Maggie Griffin, founder and principal designer at Maggie Griffin Design, says.

If all of your pillows match, they make the room feel like it matches, too 

Credit: Ana Kamin

3. Rely on Your Rug

If you don’t think investing in a rug with color is right for you, another option is to get an earthy rug.

“Consider a large natural fiber rug to ground the room. And you can take it one step further by layering another on top!” Griffin says. “My favorites are vintage Dhurrie, animal hide, or antique Oushank.”

Credit: Jolie Dionne

4. Have Fun With Hardware

If a piece of furniture is throwing off the space, try swapping out the hardware.

“Change your doorknobs and cabinet hardware to tie together your design aesthetic. This little change can make a huge difference to an overall look,” Jolene Embree, NCIDQ, LEED Green Associate, says.

By tweaking that one detail, you can make the furniture look more like the “theme” of the room, whether that’s boho or country.

Credit: Liz Calka

5. Take Your Bookshelf Above and Beyond

If you’re a fan of random odds and ends and have an eclectic style, a shelving unit can help ground your mismatched theme.

“Anchor the room with a shelving unit and decorate it with all of the small things and accessories that you have collected. Arrange the display with books,” Ross explains.

Your books will act as a neutral and help tie in all of your tchotchkes.

6. Embrace Your Green Streak

If a room needs something to unify it, make “green” that common thread. “Add some plants! If you don’t have a green thumb like me, look for low maintenance plants or opt for good quality faux plants. Greenery has such a great way of bringing a home to life and making it much more cohesive,” Embree recommends.

7. Keep Your Sofa Neutral

If you’re in the market for getting a new sofa, Ross suggests investing in a neutral one. “A neutral sofa can be a stable piece you can mix with other styles of chairs, tables, rugs, and art.”

Credit: Svenja Bruecker

8. Give Your Space the Textured Treatment

When a room isn’t feeling pulled together, Emilie Péchadre from EP Interior Design suggests adding texture to create a cohesive link around the room. Think a fuzzy pillow on the couch with a fuzzy throw on a chair; or a velvet ottoman by the coffee table and a velvet floor cushion on the floor. Your eye will register similarities, and the space will begin to flow.

9. Play With Proportions

According to Ross, it’s quite cosmopolitan to mix styles as long as you stick to the “60/30/10” percent rule for color proportion. Your room should have 60% of a main color, 30% of a secondary color, and 10% of an accent color to feel cohesive. If your room isn’t gelling, see if you need to increase or decrease any of these colors.

10. Go to Market

Sometimes when it comes to an overly-eclectic room, there is a linchpin that makes everything feel off. If you know what it is, it might be time to admit defeat and pull it.

“If you feel like things just don’t quite flow, don’t force it! Identify the furnishings and items in the space you’re completely in love with and eliminate the rest,” Amber Guyton of Blessed Little Bungalow says. “ Sometimes cleaning the slate and starting afresh is the best solution!”

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