STYLING SECRETS How to Style Your Home Like A Pro
Choosing Home Accessories
Photos by Carley Page Summers
Want your home to look like a magazine cover? After you’ve installed your furniture fundamentals, turn your attention to the finishing touches, those tie together accessories, and edit. As with any story that wants to be told, telling the story well requires a variety of approaches. It requires a combination of subtlety and complexity.
Line and Form
A room's accessories must relate to the environment they will be placed in. Scale and variation are important elements in styling a space, as are shape, height, and line direction. Think of your furnishings and objects like musical notes. The drama and beauty of an opera is delivered as much in the silence as it is in the played notes. The energy and eloquence of a room is as much in the negative space as it is in the forms that occupy.
Balance and Performance
Mostly, you should stay away from small accessories. Balance the weight of objects from one side of the space to the other, but maintain asymmetry. Larger objects are more dramatic. However, the more unique and unusual an object, the more it engages the viewer’s attention.
The more contrasting colors in a room, the more energy it will have. But the opposite is also true. Too much pattern and color in a room can overwhelm. You want to place objects with the ideal of creating visual balance. Each object should elevate the others in a grouping.
Styling Art Objects
When styling a surface, it is helpful to consider the concepts of repeating shapes and motifs. Designers aim to repeat shapes as a method for creating interest and visual harmony. This is one technique you don't want to overdo, because it's easy to cross that the point where it feels like a skip in the record. When grouping objects, the items should be able perform well together, each with it's own note or highlight to add. Repetition in composition is to visual appeal what rhythm is to a song.
Repetition of an item, color, or element creates a pattern, and patterns draw the eye in to a composition. Although the shapes aren't all exactly the same, the repetition of similar shapes forms a pattern. A pile of stacked books is perfect example of line repetition, pattern, and grouping. But the technique is also applied to furniture groupings, and art objects.
Motifs can be thought of as units of pattern. In design, motifs are bounded areas that contain a specific grouping of art objects. Motifs can be copied or arranged to create a desired effect, such as repetition, rhythm and pattern. Use this design technique to style tables, shelves, consoles or any surface that can hold your functional or decorative items. When motifs or design elements are arranged, repeated, or alternated, the negative space between them or how they overlap can create rhythm and energy in the space. In visual rhythm, design groupings become the beats.
"I’ve learned the hard way, that trying too hard to reach for trendy perfection can result in costly purchases that you later regret. Trends are there to make you feel bad about what you don’t have. Choose timeless and imperfect."
Edit and Elevate
To begin any styling project, start with a blank canvas. Empty the room of all accessories, and then play with the placement and removal of various objects until you get a combination that feels both meaningful to you and to the surroundings. Group objects together in odd numbers. Avoid making certain areas appear too heavy, or on the other hand, too light or neglected.
I’ve learned the hard way, that trying too hard to reach for trendy perfection can result in costly purchases that you later regret. Trends are there to make you feel bad about what you don’t have. Choose timeless and imperfect. When thinking about new purchases, only buy what means something to you, what is interesting, or what is functional.
When styling a space, dynamic depth and energy are the ideals you are looking to create. You want your space to be chic, but you don’t want it to feel like a showroom. Styling is not about randomly throwing objects onto a surface. It is about carefully considering how each object relates to another. Each object must elevate the others next to it, and the room itself. No object should overwhelm the space, and neither should the core furniture overwhelm the accessories.
Things to Consider
Always consider the interaction between the various elements in a room in terms of material, shape, proportion, and height, and don’t forget, color. Consider, do you have enough contrast? Do you have any dreamy vintage or dramatic pieces? Are your materials diverse enough? Are you taking enough design risks to be challenged? What do the objects mean to you?
"What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity… something like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue.”
- Henri Matisse