styling secrets – dining table

The dining room table is a bit of an odd one when it comes to styling. If you are styling for the photographs of a glossy mag, then it’s easy. You can go all out, or keep it simple. Or even for sales purposes, you know that the table should be the focus, not what’s on it. But for your home, day to day? It’s a bit different. The table always serves the same primary purpose, but it changes depending on the meal you eat at it or how many people use it at any one time. So what’s the best way of keeping it looking nice all day long?

During the day, you wouldn’t have place settings made up, or food perfectly placed to look fab in a photo. You would have a table. In its raw form. But you can add to this without it looking too staged, just so you have something breaking up that vast flat surface.

Similarly to coffee table stylingflowers or other natural objects always look great at the centre of your dining table. As well as candles in hurricane lamps, or on candelabras. It really depends on the size of your space and the location of your table. If you happen to have a chandelier or other light fitting hanging low over your table, that adds to the overall styling of it, without it even touching the surface.
Sometimes, the simpler the better. A dining table needs to look clean and fresh, as well as inviting. So if it is clutter free, and allows you to quickly and easily set the table for dinner, it’s a winner. You just need a couple of small items grouped together, or one big one in the centre to add enough interest to an otherwise blank table top.

There are countless examples online, but here’s an interesting festive twist to an average vase. This was from a photo shoot I assisted on for Mel at Country Knole Interiors.

Photo by James Billett for Country Knole Interiors
Photo by James Billett for Country Knole Interiors

styling secrets – coffee table

A coffee table is an essential element in the main living area of your home. When you think of this space, immediately the mind goes to ‘something to sit on’, and ‘something to centre those seats around’. Cue your coffee table.

It’s a practical piece, and something you can splurge on, pick up at a thrift store and up-cycle yourself, purchase flat pack from a store – whatever. But once you’ve found the right one for you, and set it in its place, it tends to become a sort of dumping ground – a home for your remote controls and paperwork. But it has so much more potential than this.

It can be styled and beautifully executed. After all, it is going to be in the centre of a seating space – and it can even become a focal point for the entire room. A way to draw everything around it in so that the room feels as though it is all connected and spatially thought out.

Everyone obviously has their own personal tastes, but I do think there are some fundamentals in coffee table styling. For example, flowers, or at least something natural. Pot pourri, natural vase fillers, a pot plant, pine cones.. just something natural. My personal preference is flowers. It adds life and colour to the room as well as creating texture and height on the flat surface of the coffee table.

Other examples include candles, books, decorative objects and trays to arrange these on.
Candles add softness and warmth to the arrangement. They create a homely feel and a coffee table is the perfect place to house these whether they are lit or not. Books must be what are known as “coffee table books”. Not novels. Books that are interesting, and usually based on a theme. Books that you would like to flick through to look at pictures, or ones that inspire conversation between you and your guests. They are usually large and hardback, can be about fashion, interiors, gardening, specific decades – anything really! But make sure you are interested in them. They have to be useful for you too.
Decorative objects are the ‘fluffy’ parts of the whole arrangement. They can be anything from ornaments to mini sculptures. They are another way of adding colour or texture or general aesthetic interest. And finally, trays. This one is quite new to me. But having worked in home retail now for over 2 years, I have come across a LOT of decorative trays. And they are gorgeous. The perfect way to house little objects on the top of your table – or even a new home for those remote controls!

Photo from allurehouseinteriors
Photo from allurehouseinteriors
Photo from decohubs
Photo from decohubs
Photo from maureenstevens
Photo from maureenstevens
Photo from sparklemeetspop
Photo from sparklemeetspop
Photo from caribbeanlivingblog
Photo from caribbeanlivingblog

styling secrets – bookshelves

It’s been a while since I wrote a piece on styling. After my Styling Room by Room series, I didn’t really know where else I could go with it. But I thought I could look in more depth at the details of each room. How to style individual pieces of furniture or  areas of the rooms, as well as the importance of styling window dressings for photos.

So we’ll start with one of my favourites: bookshelves.

They come in all shapes and sizes, widths and heights, with a variety of usable and empty spaces.. so is there just one set of rules that can be followed? Not really. It is dependent on which room the bookshelves are in and what their function is. Some people have feature bookshelves, built into alcoves or custom made to fill a whole wall where they want to display not only books, but decorative objects too. While others have practical bookshelves, that tend to be smaller and serve the primary purpose of encasing books. So there are rules, but you can pick and choose which ones apply to you depending on the kind of shelving you have and what you use it for.

Bookshelves and cases used to be used solely for giving a home to those battered, much-loved spines, but those days are gone. Lots of people want to make even their practical bookcases look a little more special, while others prefer to use the space to display decorative items as opposed to reading material.

1. Colour block your books/objects. This one is self-explanatory.. I have seen great examples of this in a variety of shelves. From grouping the same coloured books together along the lengths of the shelves, to having a pile of books in one colour next to a display of trinkets of that same colour. It doesn’t work for everyone, but if it’s to your taste, it can look fab.

2. Checker-board your books/items. This is slightly more difficult to explain, but if you imagine a checker-board then my description should be of some use. This would work well for those of you wanting to house your books as well as display a few items. Imagine the top shelf split into three sections: on the left hand side, you’d have some books (stacked, standing, however you want them) in the centre, you’d have a cluster of decorative items (a vase, a glass bottle, and an ornament) and then on the right hand side, you’d have books again – the same way you’d displayed them on the opposite side.
Then on the shelf below, imagine it being split into three again. Only this time, from left to right, you’d have decorative objects, books, decorative objects. That’s your basic checker-board. It works well for open kitchen shelving too – mixing up bowls and plates and mugs.

3. Combine books and objects. On each shelf you could have a small pile of books with an object placed on top. Then on another shelf you could have a small selection of books standing up to one side with an object placed next to it. This is very open to your own creativity, but works better for lighter displays (ie. not for shelves that are jam-packed with books!)

4. Alternate. You can alternate shelves of books and objects. Quite similar to the checker-board, but you keep one type per shelf. So a whole shelf of books. Then a whole shelf of objects.

5. Random placement. This is the most creative, it has no limits except that again, this works best on lighter shelving. You can place books and objects in any way you want, remembering to keep a balance of colour and weight across the whole case. Adding eye-catching objects at the edges and corners to draw the eye across the entire display. You can use the rule of thirds here as it works well for aesthetics.

6. Be creative. You won’t get the perfect bookcase on your first try. So attempt a few different things, stand back and really look at what you’ve created. Look at the bits you aren’t happy with and think about what would make it better. Experiment!

Here are a few varying examples of what others have done on Pinterest, so see what you like and remember, it can be different depending on which room it is in.

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what’s trending?

It’s a bit late in the year to be forecasting trends for 2014, but just the other day I was thinking about things I’ve either seen a lot of in interiors, or things that I have expected to see and have not.

Interior trends tend to follow fashion trends, so when you look to the catwalks for next seasons clothing, you can be sure to see the trends featured there seeping into interiors in the following months.

Tribal and ethnic prints have been everywhere. All year. And this is pretty evident in any high street retailer now. The trend has gone from the designers, to the catwalks, and eventually filtered into the homes of everyone. As have florals. Floral prints have been around for a number of years now, and each year they take a different twist. Small, ditsy prints one year, to large, bold, almost Hawaiian next.. then faded and pastels. You get the gist.

The trend I was thinking about the other day is ombre. It’s been around for a year or two so it’s not exactly this year’s newest thing and I am by no means forecasting it. But I just couldn’t think if I’d seen it in interiors at all. And I wanted to know if it had made it into our homes. So I did a little research.

For those of you that don’t know, ombre is a French word meaning shaded. In fashion, it seems to apply to any garment that starts out one colour and gradually changes to another. It didn’t start in fashion though. I first heard about it in relation to the hair colour. I saw it on a celebrity once and thought, ‘I MUST have that, I wonder what it’s called?’

Since then it has appeared as a nail varnish trend, cake decorating (the actual cake batter and the frosting), clothing, floral arrangements.. everything. And I just hadn’t seen it crop up in interiors with the exception of a couple of cushion covers.

What my research showed me is that some people have taken this trend into their interiors; with mixed results.

Here are a few photos of things I’ve seen. Personally, I absolutely LOVE the ombre paint effect on a wall. In certain colours it oozes glamour and sophistication while also adopting its own personality. I want one of these walls. What do you think?

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