Design Tip | A Lesson In Styling

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.

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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.

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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!

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Tips & Tricks | Accessorizing and Finishing Touches

The finishing touches to each room are the little layers---the accessories and throw pillows.  The styling.  So many design magazines and images on Pinterest make these details look effortless.  But the truth is, there's a lot of effort that goes into making things look effortless.  Every designer has their go-to tricks; the things they do at every install and for every accessory call.  And each designer puts their own spin on it which is what makes the art of design so cool--each room is different and unique in it's own way.

Today we're talking about some of our go-to tricks to add finishing details.  The things we like to do to make a room look finished & effortless.  Maybe you can take these tips and put your own spin on them to make your home it's own special piece of art.

Greenery.  We also incorporate some sort of greenery into a room.  It can be a small little grass or our signature plant, an orchid (a real-looking fake one, of course).  For height in rooms that need it, a tall tree--either the fig tree or some sort of elephant ear palm is what we're currently loving (but that trend will shift eventually).  Greenery adds color and life and a little bit of an organic feel which can quickly freshen a room.

A large bowl.  This is one of our favorite go-to's because a large bowl can work almost anywhere.  Not to mention the fact that there are so many different sizes of large bowls so you've got options based on the size of the furniture it's going on.  We like for a tabletop area to look finished but not cluttered and the large bowl seems to work really well for accomplishing that.  It can be a dining table centerpiece, a console table topper, even something for the kitchen island.  We mean it when we say--don't underestimate the impact one large accessory instead of multiple small ones.  Something like that immediately becomes sculptural instead of just filler.

The pillow chop.  Yes, this is a real thing.  I had someone ask me once if chopping pillows was really something I did in my job.  The answer is yes.  And there are a few different reasons for this.  The first reason is something you don't always see and that's the fluff that happens before the chop.  We almost always use down pillows because they can be made to look very full and fluffy with just a few pats.  So that's the first step.  Punch, pat, and squeeze that pillow to get those feathers full and filled and THEN chop the top.  Chopping the top to create those little pillow ears is really just the last step to adding fullness.  Once that's done, Stack and layer.  A flat pillow looks unfinished and uninviting.  A full, perfectly fluffed and chopped pillow is exactly the accessory that sofa or chair needs.

A good ole' blanket.  There's something comfortable and inviting about a soft blanket gently draped over a chair.  It can be the pop of color in the room or maybe just a little added texture.  But either way, it adds movement.  We want the homes we design to have an inviting feel.  Not the look-but-don't-touch space, but rather the one that says I'm stylish and friendly!  A blanket adds that lived-in touch but when it's done right, it also adds some style.  So think twice before you leave that ratty old blanket out.  Consider upgrading to something that can have a dual function--style and comfort.

Designer Tips | Fabulous Shelf Styling

You may be able to pick colors and make things match, and you may even have a decent grasp on scale, but do you know how to style?  Styling is something that many people struggle with.  What's the right compromise between "full" and "finished".  It's important for a space to look complete and lived-in but not so full of stuff that it feels cluttered.  It's also difficult for many people to grasp the concept of styling when it comes to shelves.  The reason--shelves a meant to be functional.  They hold books or "knick-knacks" and if you have the shelf space, why not fill it?  Today we're going to discuss ways to make your shelves have a function--storage and display, but also look nice.  Styling is really about the jewelry of a room.  It's the way you add that finishing touch.

Height.  Height matters A LOT when it comes to styling.  The reason being is that the height of objects is where your eye moves as it moves across the space.  If all of the objects are the same height it creates one straight, harsh line your eye skims over.  It leaves you just kind of underwhelmed.  It's expected.  But when the heights of objects vary on a display, there's a flow to the look of the room.  It's more romantic and fluid rather than being harsh and straight.  So when picking the objects that you're placing next to each other on a shelf, make sure they are a varied heights.  Make sure to include objects that actually have some height, as well.  If object heights are varied but they're still all relatively short, the shelf will look like it needs more stuff. One tall item can fill a space visually.

Get Personal.  You want your displays to tell a story and if it's in your home, the story should be about you.  Use objects that you like and that are meaningful to you.  If you are ok with abandoning the "everything has to match" mentality, you can create something really unique and special with your objects.  You can create something that looks collected rather than staged.  These sorts of simple details are what make a home feel well-loved and cozy instead of like a model home.

Group items.  Part of creating a fluid movement in a display also has to do with groupings.  Again, we're avoiding the harsh, straight line effect here too.  You're still trying to achieve a balance, though.  So group items in odd numbers.  A well-trained stylist may be able to make it look fabulous by using even numbers, but that takes a trained-eye.  You know you'll always be safe with odd numbers so start there first.

Think about the backdrop.  You may have filled your shelf, but have you accounted for all of that blank space behind the objects on the shelf?  You may have to make a judgement call on this, depending on your space, but hanging something behind objects is a good way to create height if you don't have any tall objects to place.  Consider your space, though.  A small bookshelf may not need something hung on the back of it, but if you have a single display shelf against a wall, by all means, hang something up!

Edit.  Don't be afraid to edit your styling once it's done.  And don't be afraid to leave some open space.  The eye will jump from object grouping to object grouping so a little rest in between may be necessary.  Negative space can become part of the display too, so don't be afraid to let it work for you!

Of course, we've given you some helpful tips but don't feel constrained by these rules alone.  Think outside the box!  Get creative, use your emotions!  Beautiful spaces are created in many different ways!