How to (Purposefully) Mismatch Furniture

February 29, 2024

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There are plenty of us that inherit furniture from relatives over the years that just doesn’t have the same vibe. But we love displaying it around our home for its sentimental value. Or we buy a chair one year from a vintage shop and a couch the next year from a big-box retailer. Then we carry on with our lives without a second thought. Let me validate you — mismatched furniture can look amazing in a room!

Shop the Kitchen | Bradley Beige/Midnight Rug

But we heard from some of you that you’re struggling with how to curate a room of mismatched furniture that looks thoughtfully put together. I think there’s a bit of an art to it, so today I wanted to share some of the principles that I abide by when curating a look. Since I recently covered how to pair nightstands and beds together, let’s give the living room some love this time.

Principle 1: Legs or No Legs

Linen Couch | Blue Velvet Couch | Rug | Woven Ottomans | Coffee Table | Vase | Boucle Chairs | Side Table | Lamp | Picture Frame | Coffee Table Books | Curtains | Tree Pot | Faux Tree | Mirror | Candlesticks | Artwork | Chandelier

I’ve had mismatched couches in my living room for years. I think the secret to having it look good together is to pair two different styles. For me, it’s all about the legs.

I have a leggy sofa that has a tighter fabric on it in a dark blue velvet. Then across from that I have a slouchy couch that’s slipcovered to the floor in a tan canvas. They’re not even related; It’s husband and wife. But they complement each other because neither is incredibly loud, but both are confident.

I think the same principles apply when it comes to living room chairs as well. Legs or no legs: Can you see the legs or can you not? That’s going to guarantee you’re not in the same style.

Principle 2: Introduce Different Fabrics

Leather Chairs | Acrylic Bookstand | Red Lamp | Rug | Floor Lamp | Black Curio Cabinet

In my living room, two of the leggy chairs feature a leather fabric that’s different from either of the couches. Those have a very heavy look that feels more urban. Then across the room I have solid boucle chairs with no legs. Those chairs feel soft and glamorous. They’re kind of like opposites, but they balance each other out.

A great way to mismatch furniture is to play with using different fabrics. All four of our seatings options are different fabrics: we have velvet, canvas, boucle and leather. How do these all work together? I think it’s because we have double chairs of the boucle and leather. Two of the same chair make it feel more intentional.

Principle 3: Don’t Be Afraid of Color

Leather Ottoman | Coffee Table Books | Wicker Tray | Rug | Brass & Gold Floor Lamp | Black Double Floor Lamp | Faux Tree | Boucle Chairs | Velvet Couch

I also think that color drenching the room in one color — painting the walls, trim and ceiling — can make any room feel more cohesive no matter the furniture. That’s because the colors aren’t competing with the furniture. The interest is the differing sofas and chairs.

Our last living room was white. I say if you have a white living room, go for different color couches. That’s where you’re going to have your interest come in.

Many years ago in our very first house that we bought, I painted the wall of my living room purple. It’s kind of a running joke that it’s one of my interior design snafus. I kept it for awhile and loved it at first. But then it seemed a bit too much. I think I’d rather have a purple couch than a purple living room! That was when I stopped feeling the need for all neutral furniture. Where’s the interest in that?

Principle 4: Find a Grounding Element

Shop the Primary Bedroom

It also helps to have a larger item — such as a rug or a piece of art — echo some of the colors in the furniture. The fun thing about having a rug line is that I’m always swapping in different rugs to see how they play up to the room. We have four different furniture colors in our room — navy, white, leather, natural. One of them is going to fit in with a rug!

Principle 5: Be Open to Change

Coffee Table | White Bowl | Pot | Boucle Chairs | Faux Tree (similar) | Rug | Floor Lamp | Mirror | Chandelier Velvet Couch | Coffee Table Books | Floor Lamp

Now having said all this, I have been telling Chris recently that because we’ve done this setup for five years, I think I am nearing the end of my two separate couches journey. I’m ready for matching sofas — I think it’s a more traditional look that complements our modern colonial house. But I’ll always have different chairs to keep a room from feeling too stale.

So if you’re are going for a collected transitional look, two different couches or mismatched chairs add so much interest. If that’s your style, then take a risk and mismatch your furniture!

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What do you think?

  1. Judine O'Shea says:

    I think the other element to consider here is era. Rooms can sometimes feel awkward. If you’re inserting an inherited peace, for example, that’s a little too close an error to the furniture you already have. Furniture from 1800 can look great in a very modern room, but sometimes furniture that’s too close in age can look like it’s trying too hard… but not quite making it.

  2. Rachel says:

    We have a leggy tufted green velvet ottoman that I fell in love with years ago. Paired it with a newer, fabric to the floor slouchy sofa from crate and barrel in a neutral color and I absolutely love the look. I remember seeing a Ralph Lauren ad years ago and all of the legs on the furniture in the styled shot were different and Ive been in love since then!

  3. j says:

    This is post is pretty right on. When installing furniture mash-up look for commonalities in form. Curves in the arms of your couch and curves in the arms, seat back of your side chairs. Consider common metals. For instance in the livingroom that Chris and Julia have now the side chairs are black iron and the coffee table’s frame is black iron. Somehow it works. Sometimes having an inherited piece just stand out as anomaly is just great. I’s its own thing a conversation starter. It’s a piece of art in its own right. Key? Let furniture have room to breathe in a room. Edit down what you put into a space.

  4. Samantha Karl says:

    This was so helpful. Looking to refresh our living room this summer and I was just debating matching vs mismatched sofas. I would love a “how to mismatch door hardware through the home” because I’ll be in that situation too.

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