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Extra Virgin -  April 2010
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Home There is a simple art to mixing and matching, and it's all about getting as wide a variety of items as possible to work together, says Miranda Sherry,

Imagine a room where everything matches. If you were conscious through any portion of the 80’s you probably have a few memories to draw on here. Think turquoise wall-to-wall carpets, patterned bed linen (with turquoise in it, of course) that matches the curtains, that matches the lampshades, that matches the frilled tissue box cover on the bedside table. Feeling a little queasy?

How about a lounge where every single sofa, couch or chair is in exactly the same style, in exactly the same fabric? (Oh, go on, seeing as we’re going there, make it all in pale salmon coloured faux leather while you’re at it.) Thrown up yet?

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Finally, décor has ubuntu at its heart. Everything, no matter how different, has a place, a function, and a say towards the final overall look and feel of the scheme.

Using items that are poles apart to create a unified look sounds rather contradictory, which is why it is often hard to begin. How on earth do you know whether the antique Louis XIV chair will sit happily beside the thrift-store coffee table without causing a fight? Will your carved wooden Balinese statue not feel a tad out of place beside the gleaming 32 inch plasma TV?

Here are some simple tips to help you move away from same-y styling, and into the texture-rich world of décor ubuntu:

Don’t think clash, think balance and harmony: Despite the items being from different income groups, centuries or styles, make sure that there is something that can relate the two together. Painting a selection of different dining chairs in the same colour, for instance, will keep the interest without looking random. An echo of similar texture or shape can have a unifying effect too.

Mix it up: When shopping for new accessories or furniture from budget décor stores, don’t just buy everything from one shop; instead, pick a few pieces from each. Purchasing all your items in one swoop may be easier, but you might find that the completed room feels like a mall window display.

Dress it up: A charity shop table with a fresh coat of paint, topped with an elegant slice of expensive marble can create a whole new, funky item.

In some cases, combining different budgets can work in your favour. Rather than buying cheap faux goodies that sort of look like they might go with the gorgeous antique table your granny left you, go for something very modern-looking, sleek and simple instead. Trying to match up too closely can leave both items looking cheap.

Use funky items sparingly. A whole room of suspended, Perspex bubble chairs will just look weird, whereas one alongside an ordinary couch will add interest and excitement.

Don’t stress out about whether your choices will go together; remember that it takes all sorts to make a room.