Style Clash: Old World Meets Sleek and Chic


Style. It’s that ‘je ne sais quoi’ about someone or some place. You can’t put your finger on it, but you like it. Or you don’t.

It’s personal and evolves with time and maturity. And then it might change, again. Style is expressed through fashion, music, decor, tattoos. Our style communicates who we are, what we like, how we feel.

So what happens when one style meets another? Is it catastrophe waiting to happen or is there hope for harmony?

That’s why we created Style Clash. Some design styles are more flexible; others force us to stretch outside our comfort zone. Each week we will offer tips for mixing competing styles successfully.

What do we mean by “successful”, you ask? If nothing seems strange, jarring or just plain ugly, then I’m all for it regardless of time period, colorway or material. I call it a successful Style Clash.

Let’s warm up with an example of a winning mix, to get us acquainted. Can you name the three (yes, three) different design styles and corresponding pieces of furniture in this dining room (top image)?

The Neoclassical credenza under the mirror looks perfect with this Country dining table and chairs and Modern pendant lamps. Classical, comfortable and clever. Voilà! It’s sincerely that simple.

For our first Style Clash let’s marry Italian/Old-World with Contemporary and see where we land.


Italian style (image above and below) is mostly masculine with high ceilings, distressed walls and dark woods. The color palette ranges but the hues are rich, regal and muted with age; never pale or pastel. The look is comfortable, broken-in and distressed. Stone floors, wood beam ceilings and arched doorways are trademark elements (image below).



Contemporary style (image above and below) is graphic in nature with sleek, straight lines and splashes of color mixed in with muted whites and creams. Furniture sits low to the ground and often has metal frames and legs. White walls, lack of window treatments and concrete flooring are other key elements of Contemporary design.


Combining these opposing styles (images below) might sound scary, but actually the result is charming and full of old and new world potential. Let me show you how…


If the name Philippe Starck rings a bell, you probably know a thing or two about Contemporary design. And you should recognize his Ghost Chairs in the image above. Starck is the go-to guy for some of the sleekest, chicest designs around. And his see-through, sexy chairs seem perfectly placed in this Italian dining room (image above and below). Notice the key Italian elements: the arch over the doors, the distressed walls and high ceilings, as well as the stone floors.


The same can be said of this smaller, private eating area (image above). The chairs are Starck’s La Marie, but the effect is still comfortable and serene. These spaces, probably located somewhere in Tuscany, carry all the traditional charms of an Italian villa with a touch of today. Successful Style Clash.

Meet me here next week as we continue to cruise the spectrum of interior design styles, two at a time. Ciao for now!

Images: Interior Divine and AT Casa.

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