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!

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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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.


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!



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!