Styling is one of the most useful tools I’ve learnt so far as an interior designer. Styling takes a space from functional to beautiful. It’s the process of arranging and placing items in a certain way so that your home looks magazine-ready. If you want your home to look like it belongs on a two-page spread, picking up a few styling skills will help you so much. Today’s post is going to go into a few tricks that I’ve learnt, and some examples of gorgeous styling.
Tip 1: Clear your clutter
The first thing you’ll need to do is to remove all clutter and knick-knacks. If you’re one of those people who displays items just because they were gifted to you, you’re going to have to face up to them. Too many things, even if they’re beautiful, will make a space look messy.
Try putting more sentimental (but kinda ugly) pieces in closed storage, and find a covered box to store loose papers and mailers. A command centre is another great option for keeping things neatly organised – and keeping clutter off your surfaces.
Tip 2: Learn to vignette
A vignette is defined as a ‘brief but powerful scene’. In interior design, we use the term to describe small collections of accessories that create a little visual display. When creating a vignette in your home, try to stick to a simple color scheme, and layer items around a focal point like a lamp or vase.
Group pieces in threes or fives for the most pleasing arrangement, and vary the height of items; use books as a stand for smaller items. Vignettes are great for seasonal decorating, because they’re really easy to change out.
Tip 3: Take a shelfie
A shelfie is pretty much exactly what it sounds like – a shelf selfie. Taking a photo of the space you want to style will help you figure out what things need changing, and what things just don’t fit. Like in the vignettes, choose a color scheme for your bookshelves.
When styling a bookshelf, start with the actual books. Arrange them into little sections, then layer in accessories like little sculptures, photo frames, vases, and cute storage boxes. Bookshelves are one of the things that people focus on when they’re in the room, so treat it like you’re displaying pieces of art.
Tip 4: Style your coffee table
Coffee tables are one of the most under-utilized decorating surfaces in the home. The coffee table in my living room only has my brothers laptop on it (but I’m really bad at decorating my own home, almost nothing is styled!). One of my favorite things to do is to start with a tray, and then layer some books, a vase of fresh flowers, and a stack of cool coasters.
For the less attractive things that you like to keep at hand, try a coffee table with drawers. Another option is to purchase a table with a shelf, and keep storage boxes on it. You can keep your remotes and tv guides right where you need them, without cluttering up the actual surface.
Tip 5: Re-arrange your artwork
Artwork is the easiest way to change up your decor. My favorite way to display smaller art is on picture ledges. You can easily move them around or swap them out without putting lots of holes in your walls. Try to keep your ledges color coordinated for a more streamlined look.
If you’re not into smaller pieces of art, go big! A huge statement piece may be expensive, but if you buy a couple of pieces you really like, you’ll have different options for changing your decor out. If you don’t like to hang them (or you’re not allowed), prop them on top of vanities or sideboards and lean them against the wall.
Tip 6: Throw pillows and blankets
Life without throw pillows is sad and uncomfortable. They’re key in making your home feel more cozy, and such an easy way to decorate. There’s a huge range of pillow cases available to buy, and some of them are really cool. In summer, use florals and nauticals. In winter, snuggle up with a faux fur and something with a bit of sparkle.
Throw blankets can also be essential for styling. You can drape them over chairs and sofas, fold them neatly on the end of your bed, or roll them up and corral them in a cute basket. Throw pillows and blankets are both a functional and a decorative piece, and so versatile.
Tip 7: Make it personal
Add something that shows your personality. Don’t just pick up a magazine and style your home exactly like it – your home should be a reflection of who you are and what you love. For me, that’s giant gilded mirrors, and grayscale fashion art. In this picture, there is a brightly patterned rug and a giant shiny apple.
If your home doesn’t feel like a place you would happily move into, then you need to make some changes. Maybe you could hang your favorite hats on the wall, or create a giant instagram-style photo wall. Put yourself into your home, even if it’s scary.
Tip 8: Style your bathroom
Just like the coffee table, the bathroom is an overlooked place to style. We just don’t think about it! The bathroom is a functional place, and when we’re in a hurry, we tend to leave clutter all over the counter and we don’t appreciate the decorating opportunity we have.
Dress up your shelves with candles and vases. Add an apothecary jar or two with your favorite bath salts and soaps. Roll up your towels and display them on your counter. Use a tray to keep all your perfumes, lotions, and makeup in one neatly organised section.
Tip 9: Add organics – plants, cut branches, flowers
Every designer will tell you the same thing: plants can make a home. Whether it’s a single tulip in a skinny vase, a huge fig tree, or some cut apple blossom branches, plant life adds an essential aspect of life and nature into your home. I’m definitely a flowers kind of girl, but I’d love to have some little herbs growing in terracotta pots on my kitchen window sill.
If you have allergies, you can get really amazing quality silk flowers from places like Michael’s (USA) and Spotlight (NZ). Select a bunch of gorgeous flowers, and arrange them in vases all over your house. My favorites are hydrangeas, peonies, gerbera daisies, and orchids.
Tip 10: Let the sun shine in
Natural light will always make your home look better. There’s just something about it that makes things easier to see, and it will highlight all the beautiful aspects of your home. The textures of your linens, the detail of your fireplace, the polish of your hardwood floors.
If you’re stuck with poor natural light like I am, bring in reflective elements like mirrored furniture and glossy paint. You can also purchase light bulbs that mimic the quality of natural light. Another tip is to hang your curtains wider than your window frame, so that they don’t hang over the window and block out your valuable light.
If you’re at a loss for what to do when it comes to styling, a lot of designers offer a consultation service where they can give you advice on what kind of things will look amazing in your home. Remember to only use the pieces that you really love; that way your home will always look it’s best.
If you want some more personal advice on your own space, send me an email with some pictures and your questions, and I’ll be more than happy to offer you some tips.
Header image is from Massimo Interiors.