The mismatched outfit is in style--a look which could only have been born in academia, where the possibilities of sweater-and-sock combination are endless. I think it was Einstein who mostly gave up wearing socks, a look which I saw expertly modeled by an undergraduate yesterday, and in the snow no less! Looks like this, which may be born in apathy or originality, are taken up by mass-produced "fashion." Suddenly jeans come pre-torn. And principles on how to achieve an eclectic look are given. Sadly, the organic process of wearing holes into your jeans is cut out. Free People advertises ways in which their products can be incorporated into an eclectic look.
The mismatching of place settings is in vogue as well--using several patterns of glasses, dishes, and silverware on the same table. (For sixty dollars you can buy the This & That Handblown Glasses set--a set of six artfully mismatched handblown glasses from Napa Style.) If you want to mismatch, I say go to the thrift store, go to the flea market, or better yet, use pieces with which you already have a history--pieces from a family member, pieces you grew up with. The key to "eclecticism" is not seeking out some sort of mismatched harmony, or looking for the greatest possible disparity between pieces, it's in only collecting pieces that you really, really like individually, and then in putting them together. Somehow, harmony will emerge. That harmony is very you-centric, as it should be. It is, after all, your table.
I find the "haphazard" distribution of candles and flowers romantic as well. Tea lights are inexpensive--at most five dollars for a hundred candles. You will want to distribute them, like stars, around the room. And you must light them all at once. I've never had a sufficient quantity of flowers to do a great deal of sub-dividing, but I suggest distributing them around the house... casually, sneakily. Your guest should always feel like a daffodil is looking over her/his shoulder and a peony, performing on the coffee table. It is exciting to share your home with flowers.
I wonder if perhaps I am trying to somehow re-create the irregularity of the forest and field--the wild and the unkempt. I do find the subtle chaos somehow comforting, perhaps because when the books and the plates and the flowers relax, I can relax too.