10 Styling Tips

If you are like me, every new year, after taking the Christmas decor down, I am ready for a room refresh. This got me really thinking of styling and how to style.

Styling is one of those things that bring soul to a space. It is also one of the hardest things to do in a project and I have to admit, it has been something I have had to hone my skill in over the years.

One of the things that helped me learn how to style most was owning a retail store. We had to style and display items to make them look visually pleasing. You are constantly changing things and moving things.

As I was thinking about styling…I came up with 10 principles I go to every-time.

I wanted to share those 10 principles with you today!

10 Styling Principles

When it comes to styling…I think of all the senses- smell, sight, hearing, taste (this one is harder), and touch. As humans…satisfying our sense is what gives us that feel good experience in a space.

So if you just sit on your sofa and imagine what would make the space more cozy, maybe it’s a candle on the coffee table flickering, a throw blanket on the back of the sofa so you can easily pull it over you, an ottoman that cab be moved around for placing feet on, the lighting not harsh but a nice ambience, and maybe a side table to sit a drink down on. To me…this is very satisfying to the senses.

1. Take Everything Off

The first thing I like to do when styling is take everything off and dust. This gives you a blank slate to work with and allows you to really visualize the space.

If you have items lying on the floor and they look good together just lying together…then the chances of it looking good on a shelf together is likely. In addition, if you are panning over the objects and they all seem to go together and then all of the sudden you have a stark difference in items…then maybe find another spot for the item.

2. Have Blank Spaces

If you don’t have some blank space for your eye to rest or graduate from different heights of items…the styling can feel too nervous or cluttered. So there is such a thing as over-styling. Along the same lines…you don’t want every side table to have something on it that someone couldn’t put a drink down. It is ok to leave some spaces un-styled.

3. Add the Layers

One of the best ways to style is adding layers. If we think of the base layer of the room this includes your bigger furniture like sofas and cabinets. The 2nd layer would be the smaller furniture pieces like the side tables and coffee tables. The 3rd layer is the layer that adds the character and soul to the space…this is the styling layer and includes pillows, throws, and decor items. All these layers add so much to the space so make a checklist to see if you have items from all layers.

In addition to this…you want to layer your lighting. Nobody wants the overhead canned lighting at night. Use other forms of lighting such as sconces and lamps to provide the beautiful ambient lighting at night.

4. A Focal Point in the Space

In every room, I always have a focal point. This can be a fireplace, a view, a television…whatever the thing is you want the room to orient around the focal point and then pyramid styling items to the thing.

5. Decorate in 3’s

Odd numbers always look better together when you are styling. In addition, having them different shapes and sizes also helps in this “pyramid” idea for your eye.

6. Mix and Match Different Textures

You never want to use the same textures when styling. If you have an item that is a smooth metal, maybe mix in a cute little rattan keepsake box, or stone decor item. Not to get sidetracked, but this also includes adding in organic pieces. If you think of most houses…a lot of things are straight-lines and square. Use organic items with curve, like beautiful pottery. This really helps add interest to the space.

7. Add Plants

Maybe this goes along with adding in organic items…but plants are perfect! Some of my favorites are adding trees in spaces with antique planters! I am serious…trees by a window are so amazing! I also love having plants really everywhere that makes sense. And I am talking about live ones…the real life living and breathing plants. 🙂

8. Fill Spaces with Big Books

I LOVE BOOKS! This may be my downfall as I am constantly just getting on Amazon ordering books. Big Coffee table books are some of my favorite and they look so beautiful just placed about anywhere. They take up space and are great conversation starters for guests.

9. Creating a Conversation

Speaking of…I love adding in pieces that are collected or found as these are the pieces that have so much sentimental value, character, and of course are great conversation starters with guests! These are probably my favorite items to style with!

10. Just Move Things Around

Shocker…the best way to style is just to move things around and see what works. This is exactly what designers do no matter how much talent and experience they have. They put something on the shelf and step back and see what they think. If it doesn’t feel right they try something out. Don’t stress…you will get there.


What have you found that helps when styling a mantel, shelf, or coffee table? Do you have any favorite items that I need to know about!?


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