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Designer tip: How to style a coffee table, bookshelves or sideboard

Designer tip: How to style

Ever look at the sad, uninspiring surfaces in your home and wonder, “why?” Do designers have all the inside scoop on how to style a coffee table, bookshelves or sideboards? And, do we, as mere people struggling to make our space beautiful have to just guess and by golly?

As designers in the studio, we too grapple with placement and balance, color and texture. However, we also have a few tricks-of-the-trades that make the mêlée do-able. So, how does one actually take things and turn them into artful displays?

Designer tip: how to style

4 tips on how to style a coffee table, bookshelf or sideboard

 Look high and low

Most likely you’ll have objects of varying heights. A pitcher, for example will be taller than a plate or bowl. Start with the taller pieces and work your way down. If everything seems to be about the same, create height by stacking books or plates and then place another object on top of the stack.

When your eye looks up, down and all around there’s more interest. A table or shelf will have intrigue that makes you want to explore and appreciate it more.

Designer tip: how to styleThree is company

The old adage, three’s company, is true when styling a surface. Group objects in three’s. This is one of those, don’t-ask-why’s. It just works.

Show and tell

This is where things get personal. Tables and shelves are a place to tell a story, and that story should be about you. What do you collect? What makes you happy and sparkle? Flat surfaces are the perfect spot for these treasures to shine.

Designer tip: how to styleI’m particularly fond of including specialties on bookshelves. Now, I adore rows and stacks of books for their unadulterated beauty, but placing a photo or vase or small statue in the mix gives it a well-curated look. Remember, we are looking to style our areas.

Think green and organic

Potted plants, flowers, collected branches speak a thousand words when included on any type of flat surface. Whether it’s the fragrance or texture, or the simple fact that something is living in the space, it is a must-have.

Designer tip: how to styleJust like you want friends to know you actually live in the space, include something organic. The beauty here is that a bouquet of tulips instantly brings spring to the table, while a vase of leaves ushers in fall. All of this happens without the need to switch up anything else. But, trust me; you’ll want to play with the other items too.

Here’s the next part. We’d love to see photos of your creations. Nothing fancy is required. Snap a few pictures with your phone, and tag us on your social media. I know you’ve got a creative side. Let it shine!



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