There are many aspects to design but one skill a good designer has is the ability to style a space. Beautiful fabrics and finishes and architectural details are the backbone of a well-designed space but the styling is what really completes the ensemble and makes it feel livable. While a pristine, model-home type room is beautiful to look at in pictures, it doesn’t evoke the I-want-to-live-there feeling that a well-styled space does.
Styling is hard to teach because it has a lot to do with eye and trusting your gut but there are some guidelines that can be help in styling a space well.
The first good guideline is considering the impact of color. Some pieces used in styling are really just filler —the fill a void and are “background” decor. They keep the space from feeling empty or unfinished. However, there are pieces that add warmth too. Greenery is great warmth-giving decorative element. There is also something to be said for incorporating little pops of color in styling. A fun pillow(s) or blanket. Maybe a sculpture or small piece of art that’s unexpected and plays well off of the other colors in the room. The little surprise pieces should just make you feel satisfied when you see the space because it looks complete.
Don’t be afraid to mix a little old with new. Many people get a few new things and then want everything to be brand new because the old items look dingy or dated. This is true sometimes but when done right, meaning, a lot of editing, it can be really impactful. You can make an antique piece that has a lot going for it into a focal point. Mixing seems to work well when using antiques next to more modern items— the clean lines juxtapose the vintage piece nicely and often create just enough tension to bring a room to life.
The final, most important guideline is not to be afraid of imperfections. Everything has a birthmark…whether it’s a piece of furniture or a wall, almost nothing is absolutely perfect. This can be maddening for some but it really can add character to a space. You can choose whether or not you want to highlight these imperfections or just let them be a layer. Either way, don’t stress about it, it makes it unique!