When Opposites Attract: Rooms With Contrasting Elements (& Why They Work)


Nothing punches up a room quite like contrast. By pairing together pieces with opposing qualities, you can create a space that feels dynamic but also balanced. Whether you’re mixing together dark and light, formal and casual, or old and new, sometimes things that don’t seem to go together can be just right. Check out these examples.

In the living room above from Domino, I love how the two sofas play off of one another. They’re totally different styles—one is rustic and leather-covered and the other is a more traditional look, in snowy white—but together they’re just perfect.

One of my favorite contrasts is that between old and new pieces, executed beautifully here in this room from Lonny.

The chairs in this dining room from Nuevo Estilo are definitely from different eras, but what sets up such a delightful contrast is that they’re very different styles—one very informal and the other almost throne-like. Together, they make an unusual but appealing group.

In this kitchen design from Saveur, a roughly-textured antique island contrasts beautifully with smooth, white cabinets in a modern kitchen.

In this space from vtwonen, an unexpected black chair provides a beautiful counterpart to a light blue sofa (and a pale pink room).

This photo from Jessica Comingore, via her Instagram, is another lovely example of what happens when you dare to mix antique and modern.

Pairing big, heavy pieces with lighter furniture (or just furniture that looks lighter) can create a lovely balance. In this living room from Elle Decoration, a black sofa and a glass coffee table make the perfect pair.

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