4 Ways to Make Mismatched Furniture Work For You

When you move into your first (or fourth) apartment, decoration might not be a priority. If you’re like me, you were gifted with several items of hand-me-down furniture that, while functional (and free!), don’t match. In my case, they miss each other by decades.

Mix and Match

Credit: By Scott Smith on flickr creative commons

Making your apartment feel cohesive can be difficult, especially if you’re on a budget. The easy way out is, of course, to purchase brand new furniture that all matches. Voila! For those of us who can’t do that, though, here’s a few tips to pull your furniture together so that it appears “eclectic” rather than a hodgepodge:


  1. Find The Same Patterns or Textures In Accents

Even if your furniture doesn’t quite match, you can still find similarities in pattern or texture. Great decorating relies on playing off opposites and creating patterns across a room. So if you have a wooden table, find other ways to incorporate wood into your room. Even if it’s not the same color or kind of wood, the consistency can help bring the room together.

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Use accent pieces like blankets, sconces, knick-knacks, or other bright pops of color like greenery to emphasize certain patterns and downplay others. Pillows, for example, can help tie the room together when things don’t match. Use it to echo a color or pattern from one side of the room to the other.

If you’ve been gifted a couch with a crazy pattern, find a more neutral pillow or accent blanket, such as cream, black, camel, or other dominating solid colors. That way you can tone down the volume and draw attention away from something very loud and very ‘80s.


Patterned Couch

Crazy Couch. Credit: By Green Kozi on flickr creative commons


Patterns and textures don’t have to be color or material-related; it can be simply adding a striped blanket to the top of a couch to balance a striped rug on the other side of the room. Look around and determine what will work for your room; it’s best to find the subtle connections between your pieces and play off of them.

  1. Slip Covers

If you’re sick of your too-loud ‘80s couch, find a slip cover! There’s endless patterns and colors to choose from, so you can turn something that once didn’t match anything to something that fits well with your aesthetic. If your furniture is completely mismatched, try a neutral or solid-colored slip cover and use pillows or accent pieces to help bring the room together.

  1. If All Else Fails, Paint!

Find a common color or complementary color to pull your room together with paint. Be careful, though: many apartment complexes don’t allow you to paint without hefty fees, so check with your property manager.


50 Shades of Green

Green Paint Swatches. Credit: By Dixie Wells on flickr creative commons


If you’re given the all-clear, take a look at your pieces and have a color wheel handy. Choose a color that matches or complements your furniture; you can do that by finding the corresponding color in the color wheel, and moving directly across the wheel to find the complement. Think: blue and orange or purple and green. Alternatively, take a look at the color family. For instance, if you chose blue, think about green, teal, purple, and other cool and calming colors that might all work together, even if the patterns themselves vary.

Related: How to Add Color to an Apartment You Can’t Paint

  1. Own It!

Above all, know that your apartment probably isn’t going to look like one in a magazine. But with a little coordination and a lot of imagination, you’ll be able to turn your room from “yard sale dump” to “eclectic antique” in no time.


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Kayla Lewkowicz

Kayla Lewkowicz

Kayla Lewkowicz hails from the small town of Hopkinton, MA, home of the Boston Marathon. A digital marketer by day and freelance writer by night, she's a passionate storyteller, reader, hiker, swimmer, runner, and eater. Like what she has to say? Subscribe to her blog or say hello on Twitter @kllewkow.

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