Styling 101 | The Coffee Table

Accessorizing and styling is a tricky activity. There’s some rules to follow but there’s also some trained eye that you need to incorporate. Above all, practice makes perfect. Because, once you start playing around with styling, the more you do, the better you get. Before you read too much further, it’s important to understand that even designers have to test out certain items and combinations to see if they work out. We don’t always have the vision in our head that gets seamlessly transferred to reality; some of it is just plain ole trial and error, so don’t get discouraged.

A coffee table is a big empty space smack dab in the center of the room. It’s a functional piece, so it should not only be styled, but it should be useful. However, there’s a way to mix both. Today we’re going to give you some quick tips to follow when styling your coffee table. Hopefully these methods will simplify the styling process for you.


An easy go-to styling tool is to use groupings of 3. Odd numbers like this feel more fluid and natural when displayed where as sometimes even numbers can feel forced. Variety is important, so mix up the items you’re using. Select items with different shape and texture and always, always, ALWAYS select items with varying heights.


Just like a room needs a rug or large piece of furniture to ground it, a coffee table needs a base to ground the accessory display. A couple of our go-to grounding objects are trays and books. These flat items create a distinct cluster on top of the coffee table that adds a finished feel. Otherwise, items on a coffee table can feel like they’re just randomly placed there and floating. A stack of books beneath or a tray to group everything seems purposeful.


Use the shape of the coffee table as a basis for the objects you select to place on top of it. A big square or rectangular coffee table looks great with multiple stacks of books — mimicking the square/rectangular shape. A round coffee table lends itself more to round vases, curved sculptural objects, and soft edges. Don’t get us wrong, you can absolutely placed square books on a round coffee table and a round vase on a square coffee table, but be sure to take the shape into consideration when placing the items so that the shapes don’t seem to fight each other.


On tables with multiple levels, don’t ignore the bottom section. Address all flat surface are.


And finally, don’t over-crowd tabletops, though. Less larger items is better than a lot of smaller items —- a bunch of clutter is a quick way to make a coffee table look messy instead of accessorized.


There are a lot of great coffee tables out there and accessories are the jewelry that finish them off. Don’t neglect this surface just because it gets used frequently. Make the accessories work for you!

Paint Color Picks | Our Go-To's

We’re thinking today is a good day for a good ole fashioned paint color post! Everything has been upside down recently with hurricane Dorian so we’re looking for a little stability. And we couldn’t think of a better staple then our go-to neutral paint colors. Even though there’s a number of different paint brands out there and each one comes with a huge variety of color options (only adding more each year), most designers have their comfort zone of paint — colors and brand. We pick colors that we know work because we’ve used them before….and thus, a staple is born.

When we’re going for brighter pops of color, we are usually selecting it based on another specific element in the room — a fabric it coordinates with or a wallpaper. So bright colors don’t usually make it on our staples list. Neutrals however, are always being used. Neutrals work not only for wall colors but also for trim colors, door colors, even exterior paint colors. Once you find a good neutral, you file it away for safe keeping because you know you’ll have another use for it soon.

So that’s what we’re giving you today — our go-to, tried-and-true, tested and proven neutral paint colors. Instead of giving you a bunch of whites or a bunch of greys, we’re going to give you our top pick of each — one white, one greige, one grey, or black, and one blue. These colors, like almost any color, will change in different lights, so be sure to test them in your own space before you go painting an entire wall….but we don’t anticipate there being much not to like about them. They’re just good colors!

As a side note, we love Sherwin Williams. Sherwin Williams is our go-to paint brand for color choice. So all of these selections are Sherwin Williams paint colors.


The image never does this white justice. It’s much brighter in person but has just the right amount of warmth in it to not feel cold and sterile. It’s soft but crisp and clean—definitely our favorite white!

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We refer to this as our chameleon color. This color can go more gray in rooms with cooler tones and more beige in rooms with warmer tones. It’s definitely more current then a basic beige with it’s gray undertones however, it works well for the person who’s scared of white but wants an updated look!

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If you’re still a die-hard gray fan and haven’t given up on the “new neutral” that emerged around 2011, then this is the best bet for you. Repose Gray will give you that cool gray tone with just a hint of beige to keep it soft. It’s darker than Drift of Mist so it’ll give you contrast, if that’s what you’re looking for, but won’t feel like an office building!

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Black has become a staple color for us. We love it just as much, if not more, than white. Black makes things pop and makes a statement. While selecting a good black isn’t as hard as figuring out the perfect white, there are still lots of choices out there but this one is our fave.



With the revolution of the painted cabinet, blue has quickly become a staple neutral. We’ve always thought it was (for the record), but everyone else is finally catching up! Ha! So what’s the perfect blue? It’s hard because for cabinetry, the wood species can affect how the color takes, but we do love this muted blue by Sherwin Williams. Naval is denimy and calming and if you test it out, you’ll realize it can really work with any other color!


A Finish Comparison | Painted Cabinets or Stained?

The type of finish you used for your kitchen cabinets didn’t used to even be a question. It was paint. Always paint. Stained cabinets were dated and and normally either too yellow or too red and painted cabinets allowed you any color option your heart desired! Most importantly, paint allowed you a bright white kitchen…something everyone loved. But as always, everything comes back around and this is the case for staining. With the popularity of the SoCal look, a light, waxed white oak cabinet has become super popular and with it, the reemergence of the stained cabinet. There are so many more stain options available now so the color options are expanded…even with stain. And you can still keep the natural wood look instead of completely hiding any sort of graining like you would with paint. That being said, there are still pros and cons to both options. So aside from the style you’re wanting to achieve, consider these items before making your cabinet finish choice.

As we mentioned before, paint will completely cover the wood grain on any sort of cabinet. This can be an attractive option for those who prefer a cleaner look and wants something very tailored. More modern kitchens would definitely be the place for a painted cabinet…but also consider the rest of your home. What’s the style you’re trying to achieve and would a wood grain work well with that?


On the other hand, if you want to show off the character of your cabinets and love the fact that they are real wood, you may not want to cover them up with paint but rather highlight the natural beauty with a well suited stain.


It’s important to consider what your cabinets are made of as well. Obviously a cabinet that is not real wood cannot be stained. The stain is simply pointless since there’s no natural wood material to enhance and no graining to show. If your home has cabinet doors that are a material other than wood, paint is really your only choice.


Don’t be discouraged though. The nice thing about paint is that the color options are endless! You can literally paint your cabinets any color you want! Most stains are some version of black, brown, grey, or white. There is a variety of tones and hues within those neutral families however, there’s no getting a true blue or green cabinet which some people want.


Practicality is a big factor when it comes to kitchen cabinet finishes since the kitchen is a high traffic area. Stained cabinets, because they have more movement in the graining, actually hide more imperfections. Painted cabinets, though, typically show any sort of nick or ding. The paint color is a smooth coat so any break in that coating will be visible. For this same reason, painted cabinets are harder to touch up whereas stained cabinets are easier to fix.


Depending on where you purchase your cabinetry, it can cost more when it comes painted. Most common stain finishes are less than a painted finish, however, the newer stains don’t always fit into the “inexpensive category”.


Finally, consider what is required when you want to change your cabinet color down the road. A painted finish can usually just be primed and painted over whereas a stained finish has to be stripped and re-stained which requires a lot more work.


It’s a lot to consider! The nice thing is that you can get a lot of look with either option, you just have to make sure the practical side works well for your lifestyle!

Pro Tips | Planning for a Renovation

We’ve been doing more and more renovations recently. Some are small, single bathroom updates, while others are large. Renovations are hard. Period. They’re hard on everyone involved because they are never convenient, never cheap, and never without issues. They are usually so exciting at the end, though! A brand new room in your house…and most likely a room you’ve disliked or wanted to change for a while, is now brand new! Who wouldn’t be happy?! But there are ways to help prepare yourself for the process of enduring a renovation that we want to share. Whether you hire people to do the work or do it yourself, you will always need to be involved in a big way, so here’s what you need to know!

IF you choose to hire someone to help with the work, be sure to do your research! And remember, price shouldn’t be the first concern. We are strong believers in the “you get what you pay for” mentality and people should be compensated fairly for their time…or else, they’ll try to cut corners (to save money on the back end). So get all the info on the people you are hiring—examples of previous work, a clear and mutual understanding of timeline, a detailed scope of work and even a rating on how well you feel that they communicate. Don’t get us wrong, there is a certain level of trust you need to have in your contractor, however, there is also a certain level of communication you should have with them. Be sure you feel comfortable with how they communicate because that one element will be key to a successful renovation!

Have the money talk very early on. Discuss your budget with your contractor, designer, or project manager so that they know where things need to be. If they express concern about how much you are wanting to spend, listen to their concerns. A tight budget can make for more issues and it may be worth it in the end to either adjust your scope of work or wait until you have enough money to fairly cover the costs involved. Do research in advance as well so that you have a good idea of what you think it should be. You don’t want to get scammed by someone over estimating costs but you do need to trust their professional opinion if the conversation goes that direction. We always advise clients to have a 20% cushion for any sort of construction. There WILL be unexpected items that pop up that WILL cost money. Save yourself the headache and have the money available.


Get out! If you are doing a major renovation, move out! For the sake of your mental health, your marriage, and your kids’ sanity, remove yourself from the stress of living in a construction zone because it’s HARD. It’s loud and dirty and distracting and puts everyone in a bad mood. It also adds a whole new level of stress to the entire process that could be avoided. If you’re just doing a small one bedroom remodel and can live in another part of the house during the construction process, that’s a little easier. But if you’re doing any major updates to your home, be sure NOT to be there.


We understand things can change, but it is always best to have as many of the major decisions made BEFORE construction begins. Issues may arise that require you to change your selection, but the least amount of decisions you need to make under pressure and stress, the better. Select colors and tile and make layout decisions when you have a clear brain. Stressed brain doesn’t always make the best choices.


Finally, understand that your involvement is required, not matter what. A renovation is almost never a one man job. Multiple people are involved and even if there’s a project manager who is supposed to be overseeing everything for you, your involvement matters too. You don’t want to turn into a micromanager but you don’t want to be in good communication with the people involved so that there’s no guessing on anyone’s part. For this reason, some of your budget decisions should also involve time….not just money. Consider your daily schedule and plan for the time you’ll need to take out of your day to be involved in this project. It will require it.


Ultimately, look forward to the finished product. Keep the end in sight so you don’t forget what you’re working towards. If you have nothing to be excited about, you’ll quickly become negative which will only delay the process. Positivity and encouragement always makes for a smoother work place.

Design Tips | Tabletop Styling

It’s summer and things aren’t in their normal flow since the kids are out of school and families are traveling, so we’re just doing a fun little styling post for today. Something simple; a quick, easy summer read that may spark some ideas for fluffing when you get home.

There are many layers to interior design but the most fun and most sought after part is styling. Accessorizing and styling is the finishing touch of every room and can really make a room come to life. But even though a lot of well-designed spaces look effortless, there is a certain method to styling. This article breaks it down well so we thought we’d share some tips for styling tabletop spaces or small vignettes.

Just like in a large space, a small space needs a focal point. This could be the largest or brightest item, but essentially, it’s the item that you want the focus on. There has to be a star…not everything can be the star, so you have to decide what you’re trying to highlight.

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Be sure to select items that vary in size and scale. These differences create a balance and flow that makes it appealing to look at and adds to the overall aesthetic. Everything at one height creates a hard line which eliminates flow and too many small items make it hard to know what to look at. Variety equals balance.

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Consider your background or backdrop when selecting pieces. You want a background that adds to the overall look but be careful when pairing items. A very busy background calls for simpler, more streamlined accessories while a simple backdrop can handle something in front of it that is dramatic and makes a statement. Too much movement, pattern, or color creates the same problem that too many small items does — it doesn’t give the eye something to focus on.


Too much of a good thing is bad thing. So make sure you select items that contrast each other in color (light and dark) but are similar in style and feel. The common thread of style and/or texture will tie the entire grouping together.

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Always add something natural like a pop of greenery. Even if the greenery is fake, it still provides a little warmth and coziness to the vignette. And fake flowers can look pretty real without the maintenance, so don’t write them off until you try them!

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Finally, always consider your surface. The piece of furniture that the items are being placed on is part of the whole look as well. Be sure it’s color, size, material, and texture are taken into consideration when accessorizing it. A bunch of great accessories on the wrong piece of furniture can look misplaced or out of whack. Don’t overlook what’s in plain sight.

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