WHAT DOES MATCHING FURNITURE LOOK LIKE IN THE 21ST CENTURY?
Interior designer Christian Bense paints us a picture of a typical matching furniture set: ‘It’s the three-seater sofa that matches the two-seater sofa that matches the armchairs. The coffee table that matches the TV unit, which matches the entrance hall table.’ It might sound a tad OTT, but today’s Target equivalent isn’t as far from that as we’d like to think. ‘Just like shopping for a living room sofa suite, putting all your interior design eggs in one online basket means everything in your space starts to look like it's been painted with the same brush,’ says Christian. ‘Even though the pieces may differ, they all have the same flavor.’ And it’s undeniably vanilla.
SO, WHAT'S THE VERDICT ON MATCHING FURNITURE?
Interior designer Michelle Gerson sums up the general consensus amongst the professionals quite simply: ‘I do not think your living room furniture should match,’ she says. ‘Using different pieces and collections together in one space makes a room interesting.’ Repetition equals monotony, and monotony is the antithesis of the innate beauty that comes with being unique.
HOW DO I CO-ORDINATE 'UN-MATCHING' FURNITURE?
Matching furniture is a firm no-no. So, how can we combine individual pieces to create a cohesive living room setup? For Michelle, the trick is to make sure ‘the scale of the pieces work together, and the fabrics and textures are complimentary.’ She also suggests using living room wall art and home accessories to create a sense of continuity and cohesion. For example, a rug can beautifully tie a scheme together through color and style and define zones in an open-plan space. Natascha agrees, ‘even if the furniture doesn’t match, a fluid color palette will help to pull everything together.’ Rather than buying new, Natascha recommends using what you already have and reupholstering items with a more appropriate fabric choice. ‘Not only does this save you buying something new, but it also saves your existing piece from going to landfill!’ she adds.
GET THE BALANCE RIGHT
For Christian, it’s all about balance and ‘adding as much depth as possible with various finishes, materials, and styles.’ If you already own a mishmash of furniture and want to refine your selection to create a cohesive eclectic style, Christian suggests you follow one simple rule: ‘get rid of one, keep one, and reupholster one.’ ‘There’s no room for sentimentality if a room isn’t working. One needs to be able to edit,’ he adds.
MIX THE OLD WITH THE NEW
Christian takes a different approach when starting from a blank slate while maintaining his steady rule of three. Shop for ‘something masculine, something feminine, and something vintage… (or just something that looks old.),’ he says. ‘Ultimately what this menage à trois does is provide balance… which is the key to preventing your space from feeling like a suite,’ explains Christian. Could this be the holy trinity of interior design and the answer to our cohesive living room prayers?
FOCUS ON SCALE, PROPORTION AND LAYOUT
Scale and proportion are integral to a cohesive design. ‘If you start shopping for a room without a floor plan, you're going to fail,’ asserts Christian. Before shopping, you need to know what size furniture you’re looking for. ‘Not only will this limit options, but a well laid out room, regardless of style, is half the battle won,’ says Christian.