“It’s a mistake to think that modern furniture demands a homogenously modern setting,” says Scott Moser of J Mark Designs, Inc., in Naples, FL. Actually, many homeowners are moving away from the matchy-matchy approach, opting for a more eclectic and unpredictable style. And modern furniture’s clean lines and simple forms make it an ideal candidate for mixing and matching.
“It’s awesome to combine a sleek contemporary sofa with an oriental rug and an heirloom chair,” Moser says. “These different pieces with interesting elements can become fast friends.”
Contrast is the key here. Start with a long, sculptural piece such as a couch or sideboard and add a detailed side table, tufted armchair or even traditional piece of art with an elaborate carved frame. Likewise, a contemporary cocktail table placed in front of a more classic sofa can add needed edge.
Setting, too, can provide an inherent contrast for the décor. “We find that contemporary pieces play well in a barn room or other area with rustic walls, exposed brick or even beams in the ceiling,” Moser says. “Lines can be used to play off of other lines.”
One of Moser’s favorite tactics is to combine modern furniture with Asian antiques, as in this showroom setting above. “Asian designs have a naturally clean, Zen feeling which is a natural fit for contemporary furniture,” he says. The cubed credenza with its striking graphic form takes center stage with the Buddha head adding a serene nod to the past. It doesn’t have to end with the Buddha, either: Primitive art and salvaged architectural details—think Shaker or Mission—can echo the simple shapes of modern upholstery.
While much modern furniture emphasizes white, black and silver, contemporary need not mean colorless. “You shouldn’t be afraid to use color boldly. Let it pop,” Moser says. In this arrangement above, bright chartreuse, green and aqua pillows bring a playful, even humorous personality to aristocratic white Mid-Century Modern bucket chairs, while the cerulean glass vases anchor the room. Texture, too, can be layered for effect, with a nubby rug or chenille couch accenting smooth leather upholstery or a glass table. “The more texture you add, the more you take off the chill and make the room more approachable,” shares Moser. (Note that in the above room, another Asian piece, a dividing screen from the 1800s, lurks behind, its hand carvings are a warm reminder of a human touch.)
Left to its own devices, modern design can feel a little soul-less. Organic elements such as driftwood sculptures, plants, shells and unfinished wood shelving soften the edges of futuristic contemporary forms and provide a soothing reminder of the natural world. “Think about what you can do to boost comfort and make a room seem more inviting,” Moser says.
The best rule of all when it comes to mixing and matching with modern furniture? There are no rules. “If you think too hard about what you’re doing, it starts to become contrived,” Moser says. In other words, start with what you love and let your instincts guide you.
Written by Elisa Ludwig
J Mark Designs
3950 Tamiami Tr. N.
Naples, FL 34103