A sleek, grey contemporary couch; a funky ceramic ’70s lamp; a chrome art deco end table; and an industrial-wood coffee table: believe it or not, with the right approach, they could all work together to create a killer room.
Instead of going for a monotonous singular look, today’s designers are boldly mixing eras to create layered rooms. And according to Jennifer Scott, a designer who’s known for her eclectic style at the firm A Good Chick to Know, there are few rules.
“I don’t put any limits on it—I don’t say this era doesn’t go with this era,” explains the style mix-master over the phone from her office, ahead of speaking about new trends at the B.C. Home + Garden Show, which runs at B.C. Place Stadium until Sunday (February 23). “I wouldn’t put, say, ’50s with only ’60s—they’re too close. If you can get Arts and Crafts mixed with art deco and midcentury, that’s better—and I’m a sucker for the ’70s. If the eras are too close, it might read as one look. So 1920s and ’30s mixed with ’50s, ’60s, ’70s is good.”
The trend of combining styles and vintages is hot these days as a result of changing attitudes toward décor, Scott says. “We’re seeing a departure from that show-home look. Now people are wanting to show bits of themselves in their homes,” she explains. “When you have people over, you want to know those are pieces that mean something to you. No one really wants to talk about their designer; they want to talk about their life.”
If there’s a potential pitfall to the layering the new, old, and very old, it’s that things can appear too busy. But when you look at Scott’s rooms, they’re organized and clean. We’re not trying for the vibe of a flea market or your granny’s attic, after all. The trick? It turns out you might want to lose that red velvet settee.
“For the furniture, we tend to keep the main pieces pretty streamlined—that’s going to keep things clean. And it’s probably in a neutral colour,” she says. “Then you can get into the trends in your accessories. Bring in your eras with accessories and art.”
Scott’s team is known for using retro wallpaper, sometimes, say, a bright-orange ’70s flower print over an antique fireplace mantel, but even here, she’s loath to overdo it: she places it on feature walls, usually painting the rest of the walls white or light grey so that accessories stand out.
“I think sometimes people get really excited about colour and pattern, and sometimes it ends up getting overdone,” Scott says. Instead, one strategy is to keep those hits to textiles that you can swap out seasonally. Lighting is another of Scott’s favourite ways to imbue a room with a cool retro feel.
“We use a lot of vintage lighting. Pendant lights, sconces, floor lamps: they set the tone of the room,” Scott says, adding that one of her best sources is Nineteen Ten (4366 Main Street). “Lighting is an easy way to do it, even if you don’t change anything else in the room.”
To make a room feel really of-the-minute, work in a few industrial pieces—timeless forms that Scott says can bridge just about any eras and act as a neutral base for the overall look. Think sturdy metal pendant lights, or a utilitarian rack to hold books and accessories. “What we see a lot of is industrial shelving,” Scott says. “We see a lot of condos that don’t have a lot of floor space, but they can have a lot of shelving up the walls.” Some of Scott’s fave haunts for industrial finds? She recommends Chinatown’s Space Lab (126 East Pender Street) and Shop Wrong (1192 East Hastings Street).
Scott plans to touch on these ideas in her presentation at the home show—and reveal a few more top trends for spring to work into the look. She doesn’t want to give it all away, but here are some hints: a key colour for spring is sapphire blue, and gold is hot, often mixing with other metals.
Most of all, the designer will be stressing that creating a look doesn’t have to break the bank. “Everyone wants to feel like they’re keeping up on home décor, but just because trends are changing doesn’t mean you have to change everything,” she says. Just think of it as adding, editing, and flaunting your inner vintage collector.