Have you ever tried to replicate the classic spaces you’ve seen in House Beautiful? How did you do?
If you missed the mark a little — or even a lot — I promise there’s still hope. You just need a little styling clarity, and we’re happy to give it with today’s 8 styling tips!
Styling Tip #1: Less is More
Did you ever hear fashion icon Coco Chanel’s most famous advice? Whatever you’re wearing, remove one accessory before leaving the house. The woman knew her stuff!
Our first space styling tip underlines the same concept: less is more. If you have too many pieces competing for attention in your space, none of them can stand out.
Put into Practice: If you’re styling a cocktail table, for example, leave side tables minimal.
We styled the cocktail table in the living room of The Sylvan Project and left the side tables clear of any accessories for a balanced look.
Styling Tip #2: Prioritize Function
Aesthetics and function are the two pillars of design. Both are important, but when you’re styling a space, think about function first.
Put into Practice: Storage is one of the most common functions of an element in your home. If you consider storage solutions in your space first (such as a dresser), you can select bold or classic pieces without fearing they’ll clash with the decor. Then, style the rest of the space around them.
By contrast, if you design first and then consider storage, you might find yourself either storage-less OR with a solution that looks aesthetically disjointed.
Styling Tip #3: Pick a Focal Point
In many homes, the fireplace is the focal point of the living room. Your mantel can have a sophisticated presence in your home and is a great place to get brave and add some intentional style.
I suggest placing a focal point above your mantel — could be art, a mirror, your television (recess it if you can!) — and framing it with asymmetrically-placed accessories. Asymmetrical “framing” is key to helping your focal point stand out.
Put into Practice: In the photo below, our focal point (the TV) is framed by two built-in shelving units. The accessories vary in height and visual weight while the stone adds wonderful texture. The mix of heights, textures, and groupings (2 versus 3 objects) are all important for accentuating the focal point! Check out Design Tip #7 for more on asymmetry.
The two articulating lights above and the black firebox help balance the visual weight of the television and add additional depth to the focal point of this room.
Styling Tip #4 | Balance Artwork
If you have multiple works of art in the same room, make sure you mix up their sizes. Here are two different scenarios:
Scenario A: If you have 1 large horizontal piece of art on one wall, offset it with 2 slightly smaller vertically stacked pieces on the wall next to it.
Scenario B: If you have a grid or gallery wall, be sure to balance it with a large focal piece, such as a mirror or other large art, or NOTHING on the walls next to it. Otherwise, your space will look cluttered, and smaller.
Here’s how we balanced a gallery wall in our Blakely studio!
The gallery wall is offset by a SINGLE focal piece in our design studio in North Kingstown, RI.
Styling Tip #5: Draw Attention to Your Kitchen Island
If you want to add some sophistication to your kitchen, the island is a great place to do it. It usually sits front and center, so one or two small additions can give it the edge it needs to command attention.
Put into Practice: Easily style your kitchen island with any of these for a classic look.
- Branches or flowers in a jar or clear vase
- A cluster of decorative jars
- A large wooden or ceramic bowl with or without fruit
- A large wooden tray to hold everyday items
A polished kitchen island in The Mendon Project.
Styling Tip #6 | Create a Solid Base
I love how glass tables can help a space feel open. The only catch? When you style a glass table, your objects might look like they’re floating!
This is easily solved by creating a solid base before accessorizing.
Put into Practice: Use a tray to create a solid base for your glass table, then style within the tray. In fact, we use trays on almost every cocktail table as a great way to ground the rest of the decor.
A brass tray keeps our accessories looking neat and grounded
Styling Tip #7: Asymmetry is Key
When styling, always keep asymmetrical placement in mind. Asymmetry is more interesting to our eyes and helps draw attention to whatever the focal point might be in your space. (Ahem, Design Tip #3.)
Put into Practice: Place a different number of objects to the left and right of your focal point, but don’t put objects at the same line of height as each other. Stagger them like stairsteps, and vary the textures.
Here’s a great example of asymmetrical styling
Styling Tip #8: When in Doubt, Do This…
Add fresh flowers or greenery! I know, it sounds simple, but a colorful bouquet of nature’s finest can truly transform your space. Try it. You won’t regret it!
Put into Practice: …Every project photo in this post. Really, go look.
For tips on planning a larger-scale design project, don’t forget to download our exclusive Interior Design Project Planner. It’ll be an invaluable resource during your process!