If you look through a furniture store that has bedroom sets for sale, you may take it for granted that they all match. Every set has the same style, color, and texture from the bed to the nightstands to the dresser. Because of this, you probably just assume that bedroom sets have to match, but is it necessary that bedroom sets match?
Bedroom sets do not have to match. Many designers encourage people who are buying bedroom furniture to work with varying types of furniture. This is to create a bedroom that works off of a theme with unique pieces that each serve as a distinct part of the whole.
So while bedroom sets do not have to match, they do need to be coordinated to a central idea. That idea may revolve around a small piece of each item or around a color palette. Think of it the same way you would think of putting together an outfit—a shirt, pants, and socks do not have to match. Keep reading to learn more about whether bedroom sets have to match.
Is It Ok to Have Mismatched Bedroom Furniture?
It is not ok to have mismatched bedroom furniture that is cobbled together that ends up looking like a yard sale. But it is ok to have mismatched bedroom furniture pieces from a variety of styles, textures, or colors as long as they are tied together around a central theme. So mismatched should not mean haphazard.
Your bedroom should be a place in which you:
- Feel comfortable
- Can relax
- Can sleep
If you feel that your room is disorganized, then you may not want to be in it. Coordinating mismatched furniture to create your bedroom set can give you a space you love to come home to, but it takes time, patience, and practice to get it right.
But what is right? The right bedroom set is the one that displays your personality in a way that makes sense to others.
Why You Should Mismatch Your Bedroom Set
If you do not want to think about putting together a bedroom set, then you can simply get a matching set. It is easier and it will probably save you time. But your bedroom is the most personal part of your home. Creating a mismatched bedroom set gives the opportunity to use that personal space to show something about who you are.
When you work with a combination of different pieces, you are able to show something unique about yourself that a perfectly matching set would not be able to say. It may take longer to come up with a completely mismatched set of furniture, but owners who do so are rewarded with a great look if they:
- Slow down and take time
- Be patient with the process
- Have a clear idea of a theme
Matching furniture sets are so last century anyway, so read on if you want to learn more about why it is ok to have a bedroom set that is not matching.
Mismatched Bedroom Sets Have a Theme
One of the reasons it is ok to have mismatched bedroom furniture is because mismatched sets are still working off of a main theme. That is what separates them from the chaos of the yard sale look. People who mismatch furniture take the time to organize their room around a tangible source of inspiration like a:
- Piece of Hardware
- Piece of furniture
Think of the outfit analogy again. It is rare to find someone in a compelling outfit that matches perfectly. But it is always compelling when people find independent pieces and put them together in a way that causes you to see something in those pieces that you never would have seen before.
It is the same way with mismatched bedroom furniture. The person who creates this around a theme is able to bring together different pieces from different styles in a way that shows you something new about those pieces. In the same way, it also shows you something new about the person who put the room together.
But where do people get their inspiration for putting together mismatched bedroom sets? And how do they make the individual pieces seem like they were made for each other? Normally people get their ideas from one of three things:
- A piece of furniture
- A color
- A texture
Take a look at some examples of how mismatched furniture sets can be created around a theme.
Mismatched Sets Created Around a Single Piece
Probably the most common way to create a mismatched bedroom set is to develop it around a single piece of furniture. When giving tips on how to design a bedroom this way many designs recommend starting with a piece of furniture that you love, something really inspires you and sparks your imagination.
The pieces for this starting place could come from anywhere. It may be a mid-century modern dresser that you love and want to work off of or it may be a matching set that you want to deconstruct to use the pieces in creative ways. It could be smaller pieces as well, like a narrow, dainty nightstand.
If you think about it, a single piece of furniture has a lot of elements that can inspire connections to other pieces of furniture. A nightstand, for example, is not just a nightstand. It has:
- An overall style
- Possibly variations in its color or texture
- Particular aspects of its design
- Hardware that has an ornate look
When a designer harvests the elements of one piece to make connections with other pieces in the room, it creates a look that is not only ok, but significantly better than a matching set. When it is done right, it brings to life all the pieces of the room.
But how do designers know what elements to use? How do they know when it is done right? How do they know when, to use the elusive style critic’s phrase, it works? In one sense there is no right answer, but in another sense, there are ways to gather ideas around a piece of furniture that works better than others.
Mismatched Sets Connect Different Styles
One way to create a set around a piece of furniture is to connect different styles of furniture, sometimes by showing what is comparable between the styles and sometimes by showing what is contrastive. This can bring life and vitality to a room through:
- A variety of different styles
- Variety within the same style
But it is not just a matter of throwing a bunch of different styles into a room. Remember, you are coordinating different elements to say something about yourself, so you want to bring out your unique personality while connecting the stylistic dots.
One way to do that is with this rule of thumb: find similarities in contrasts and contrasts in similarities. It sounds completely contradictory, but it isn’t. It is simply a way of creating variety in your room. Here is how it works.
A Mismatched Set in a Variety of Styles
Working with a variety of styles is an opportunity to work with contrasts. So if an antique piece is the central theme of a room, a good balancing piece could be in a style that comes from an era that is more modern. Doing this provides an opportunity to create interest while remaining true to the unifying theme.
So, for example, in a mismatched bedroom set that is built of pieces of contrasting styles, you may find that they are unified by a similar color palette or a similar texture. If they are all different in all ways, then all you will find is a hodgepodge of pieces. But if they are unified in some way you begin to see, as mentioned above, how they relate.
You may find that stylistically different pieces may not look so different if they share a similar texture or shades of a similar color. In this way, you are finding similarities in the pieces even though they are made in contrasting styles.
A Mismatched Set in the Same Style
If a mismatched set is all in the same style, isn’t that the same thing as a matching set? No. You can have pieces in the same style, but that look very different from each other. They may be different sizes or different shapes or different colors even if, at first glance, they look similar because they are in the same style.
A mismatched set that is of the same style may have nightstands that are very different from one another, one short and one tall for example. Or it may have a dresser that is in a different but complementary color from the bed, and so on.
The challenge is to find variety where things may easily look very similar. Or, to go back to the rule of thumb, you are finding contrasts in similarities.
Mismatched Sets Connect Color or Texture
Mismatched sets are ok because they can also be unified by either a color palette or texture. Once again this is an opportunity to play with the ways in which the pieces are contrastive and the ways in which they are similar, working off the same rule of thumb as described above.
But it works a little differently when you are connecting through color or texture:
- You can connect color or texture broadly (as in the entire color of a piece)
- You can find colors or textures in pieces that relate to the item you are drawing from
Go back to the outfit analogy. A suit is going to be broadly connected by one color but the tie or shirt adds something contrastive. With other outfits, the shirt may connect to the broad color of the pants through only a small piece of its pattern. The same can be true when connecting pieces of furniture or things like lamps.
Pieces Connected Through Color
One thing you will start to notice is that the ways of connecting different pieces interact together. As you look at color connecting different pieces in a mismatched set, you may pick up on the fact that color is one way to connect different styles and differentiate similar styles.
For example, a broadly shared color can connect two pieces that are dissimilar stylistically, giving them a common connecting point. Or you may see two pieces that are stylistically similar but of different colors to emphasize their uniqueness. But color can be used in more than just, for example, contrasting a black dresser with a white nightstand.
A compelling way to unify a mismatched set is to bring in pieces that have aspects of color from the piece from which you are drawing inspiration. For example:
- If your central piece is a wood piece with different hues in the grain, you could bring in other pieces that reflect those shades
- If your central piece has striping details or brass or copper hardware, you could bring in pieces that match those details
Color is just another way to bring out the life of different pieces and showcase the variety of what you have in your bedroom set.
Pieces Connected Through Texture
When you think of texture, you might relate that to the way a thing feels. But texture also has a visual component that comes into play with furniture. Furniture pieces can have different textures such as:
- Raw wood
- Glossy Wood
All these different textures contribute to the impression that the piece gives you. For example, a metallic piece may feel industrial and utilitarian, whereas a raw wood piece may create a more rustic impression or an upholstered piece with a lot of detail may create a feeling of luxury.
The same rule of thumb applies here. You can work with a unifying texture by having different examples of it through the set. For example, if your central piece is an upholstered headboard with a fat weave to the fabric, you could reflect that in a wicker basket, or a wood dresser with a tight, blocky pattern.
You can also work with texture by, you guessed it, building contrast. You could pair a rustic bed with a raw metal nightstand, for example, if there is something in the color or style that unifies them. Or you could pair a bench at the end of the bed with a wooden dresser. As long as you find unifying details that blend the contrasting textures, the sky is the limit.
Is it Ok If Pieces Match in a Mismatched Set?
It is ok if some of the pieces in a mismatched set actually match. As with all the other approaches to this, the furniture that matches can be just another way to express variety within a unifying theme. It just depends on how you do it.
Mismatched bedroom sets thrive on having an organic feel, so owners who use matching pieces are careful not to create too much sameness in the room. It is best to arrange them in a way that breaks them up.
For example, sometimes you will see matching nightstands in a bedroom set. This is great because nightstands are naturally separated by a bed, so you have the opportunity to create contrast in that separation, maybe by:
- Putting an upholstered headboard between two wood nightstands, or
- Putting a wooden bed frame between two metallic and glass nightstands
Nightstands are the most natural combination of pieces to match up, but theoretically, you could match two other pieces in the room.
Other Ways to Use Matching Pieces
Maybe you have a dresser and a nightstand that match and you really want to use the two together. Put them on opposite sides of the room and use the second nightstand to create the contrast with maybe a lamp to connect with the shared color or texture of the other pieces.
You may also have a bench for the end of the bed that matches a sitting chair that you want in the room. Put them apart from each other if you can, maybe separated by a large armoire. You can also disguise the similarities of the pieces with throw pillows that bring out some aspect of another piece in the room.
So matching, in theory, is ok, as long as it is kept to a minimum. A good rule of thumb is to not have more than two matching items in the set.
Bedroom sets do not have to match like they do in catalogs or on the sales floor of a furniture store. It is ok if you want to go that route, but you do not have to, and it can be more fun and fulfilling if you create a bedroom set from mismatched pieces.
Taking this approach may take more time, patience, and thought, but if you put your imagination to work, you will end up with a bedroom set that is personal and unique to you, as long as it is not a tacky jumble of unrelated pieces.
Mismatched does not mean ugly. Remember, find a piece that you want to create the bedroom set around and look for unifying references to texture, color, and style in the other pieces that you buy. If you do this well, your bedroom set will be way more interesting and special than anything you would have bought in a store.