Having a matching sofa and chair set for your living space is the easiest way (and the most popular way) to perfect a great living space. Matching sets make planning the layout of a room easy and fast, and they take the guesswork out of making sure the room flows and there is a congruence of color and texture.
Sometimes, though, they can look and feel a little too “cookie-cutter” for one’s particular style and tastes. A more eclectic look always offers a more visually stimulating aesthetic. If you get it right, a living space filled with individual pieces can be eye-catching, charming, and incredibly inviting.
Mastering the art of mixing and matching furniture is important, especially for those of us who find ourselves drooling over a modern lounge chair when our current sofa is more traditional. It’s possible to use both in the same room if you do it correctly.
We can help you understand how mixing and matching sofas and chairs can add individuality to your space and ensure you do it correctly, and avoid winding up with a room that looks unbalanced and conflicted.
Understanding furniture styles is a very important element of making non-matching furniture pieces look great together. While the pieces do not have to be the same style, working among styles that complement one another will make your room look more pulled together.
Adding a truly traditional couch to a living space that is contemporary or modern can work, but there’s definitely design work involved with getting it right. You don’t have to have a degree in interior design to accomplish this, but you do need a little know-how.
To help you better understand style, we’ve broken down five of the most popular looks you’ll see today.
- Traditional. Traditional furniture is formal in structure and adds elegance and ornate designs timeless, classic decor. Traditional furniture features carved wood, curved edges, dark finishes, and heavy pieces of furniture. This furniture almost always looks formal, very Victorian, and European-inspired.
You’ll see lots of solid wood, ornamentation, raised pieces that sit off the floor, and rich, luxurious upholstery. Traditional furniture features darker, deeply pigmented colors.
- Modern. Simplicity, form, and function define modern furniture. Modern furniture reflects post-World War II ideals of eliminating waste, cutting costs, and focusing on usability in design. Modern furniture is sleek, functional, uses neutral color palettes, and is often statement-making because of the unique blends of material with which it is constructed.
Modern furniture uses unlikely blends of materials like concrete, wood, glass, plastic, leather, and tweed. Some modern pieces are even made with unfinished wood. Modern pieces can lean toward contemporary and contemporary toward modern.
- Contemporary. Contemporary style is fluid and changes from year to year. It is reflective of what is currently popular. As such, it can take on characteristics of other types of furniture.
Current contemporary styles feature clean lines, simplistic design, and conservative colors and fabrics, much like modern furniture.
- Mid-Century Modern. This type of furniture is essentially what was considered “contemporary” furniture in the 1900s (think 1930s through late 1960s). When this style originated, the furniture almost had a cosmic feel; bright colors, unique sphere-like lamps and fixtures, patterns, and light wood finishes.
Today, mid-century modern furniture focuses on the same shapes (flare back chairs, tapered leg coffee tables, and geometric designs; however, the colors are more muted and understated.
- Transitional. Transitional furniture blends together both traditional furniture design and contemporary furniture design. Transitional furniture is a happy blend of both elegance and simplicity.
Transitional pieces will feature less wood carving detail and flourishes than typical traditional furniture but are larger and more commanding than contemporary furniture pieces.
You will find transitional pieces often upholstered with leather and crafted from polished wood.
What Works Well Together
If you’ve got a traditional sofa, a mid-century modern chair likely won’t look quite right if they’re placed in the same room (at least not without a lot of effort). When assembling your living space by piecemeal, try to stay within two furniture style families.
For instance, contemporary and modern can pair well together and are sometimes quite interchangeable. Traditional and transitional pieces are very compatible with one another.
In theory, you could pair pieces of furniture from any style; however, your space will definitely take on more of an eclectic feel with each different style you add. An eclectic look is often the goal, but it can sit precariously close to disorganized and inconsistent.
Fabric choices pull your furniture pieces together. Selecting a sofa and chair that are upholstered with two different fabrics can add depth and variation to a room without making it feel unmatching.
There are quite literally dozens of different fabric options for both chairs and sofas. When you are pairing two different fabrics, make sure that the heavier, darker, or more dominant fabric is used on the smaller piece of furniture; otherwise, it can seem overpowering.
For instance, if you plan to use a dark leather chair in your space, opt for a sofa that is upholstered with linen, cotton, or even tweed. If you’d rather have a leather sofa, try to use a lighter color and accent with a darker color chair.
When pairing fabrics, look for balance. If the sofa makes up three-quarters of the design and a chair makes up one-quarter, find a way to ensure the three-quarter item isn’t as heavy as the other.
If you have an unbalanced pairing, you can compensate by adding the lesser-used fabric into your pillows, blankets, and rugs.
Color and Pattern
It gets a bit trickier when attempting to coordinate furniture pieces that are patterned or richly colored. Some people have a natural eye for color coordination, but for the rest of us, there’s the color wheel.
Effective for not only selecting different pieces of furniture but also determining primary, secondary, and tertiary colors, the color wheel helps make sure the colors you select are congruent.
There are numerous different color blending options, including monochromatic (shades of one primary color). Most of us won’t have a difficult time pairing neutral furniture pieces (browns, creams, tans, whites) but adding pops of color can be disastrous if it isn’t done correctly.
Patterned sofas and chairs are not as popular now as they were in the late 1980s and early 1990s; however, patterned pieces are still available, current, and completely capable of being used in a modern living space.
Instead of thinking of patterns in terms of florals or paisleys, consider patterns that are updated and natural. Wood grains, tweed, and monochromatic geometric pieces are all patterns that are contemporary and clean in design.
Patterns can really help pull together a room that lacks cohesion. If you already have a sofa and chair that do not match (and we mean really don’t match), you may feel like assembling an inviting living space is a near impossibility. Using a pattern can help pull the room together. Here’s how.
- Add a patterned rug to the room that compliments the colors of the furniture. The rug will become the focal point, taking the pressure off of the sofa and chair and add congruence of color.
- Opt for patterned curtains. Again, the idea is to make the focal point of the room something other than the furniture. Patterned curtains are eye-catching and also draw attention to natural lighting and the outdoors, which can help give the room a more natural and earthy feel.
- Accessorize with patterns. Your throw pillows, blankets, and even your coffee table can be patterned, and choosing a pattern that matches both pieces of unmatched furniture can make them look as though they belong together.
Your living space is your own, and the most important factor in creating a space that is warm, inviting, and begs you to linger is that it elicits those feelings in you. What works for your space and for your family is the most important factor in designing every room in your home.
If you’ve fallen in love with a mid-century modern tv cabinet, you can find a way to make it fit with your traditional sofa and chair. Using color, pattern, and fabric matching, a room can look comfortable and well-assembled.
If you’re really struggling, consider purchasing your sofa and chair from Modloft. Our design team works tirelessly to create pieces that are unique, modern, and functional. Our pieces are built to interchange effortlessly, look beautiful for decades, and work just as hard.
You can mix and match sofas and chairs with ease, and Modloft can help you find individual pieces that are perfect for your space.
Color Wheel Primer | HGTV
A Brief History of Mid-Century Modern Furniture Design | Another Mag
The history of modern designer furniture | Retro Europe