Once the overall look and decor of a room is established and the anchor pieces in place, the fun of styling begins. I love this part. Over the years as an interior designer, I would occasionally be asked to simply update a home with fresh pillows and accessories. Creating new vignettes on tables, chests and shelves is an easy place to start and provides instant gratification. I like to start with the client’s existing items and fill in with new purchases, only if needed.
After taking stock of the pieces I’d like to work with, I’ve used a formula that’s easy and works every time, no matter what the style of the home. It can be adjusted to a variety of looks – from minimal and clean to eclectic with collected treasures. By focusing on two elements, color palette and a variety of heights, a sense of order falls into place. The color story sets the mood and is reflective of the room, while the balance of high and low objects add visual interest.
The neutral room above, by the talented team at M. Elle Design, is filled with abundant natural light calling for a pale palette to complement the relaxed aesthetic. Texture in a woven tray or a carved stone votive holder add dimension and warmth while matte contrasted with reflective surfaces keeps it interesting. Nothing should dominate or be the center of attention, so a set of washed linen striped coasters and book with a subtle cover are as much pattern as I’d want. When gathering items for a story, I make sure there are enough tall pieces to balance the low objects, otherwise it can look boring. Books are a mainstay in every project adding dimension and personality. For some of the best design focused coffee table books see this selection from one of the interior designers at Havenly.
The remainder of the rooms in this post share the same exact approach by establishing a theme with color, then pairing the vertical with horizontal. Stacks of books in varying number are used every time. Collected objects, reflecting the homeowner’s interests, are consistently part of the curating process. The photo above, in a room designed by L.A. based DISC Interiors, tells a contemporary story centered around the balance of sculptural shapes in black, brass with organic earthenware, suggesting a love for art, design and pieces with handmade character.
The L.A. home of Jenni Kayne has raw, natural elements throughout with tons of texture, so the coffee table story is a bit more polished. The inviting decor is modern but far from spare and cold. Bringing in items with shine or reflective qualities balances the rough finish of a poured cement fireplace and reclaimed wood trim. Keeping with the organic vibe of the home, carefully selected pieces, such as an alabaster box, shell inlaid trays, and a blown glass hurricane seamlessly fit right in and are perfectly appropriate. The collected books additionally reflect the overall nature of the home. By introducing just one unexpected element, a gold accented mouth-blown glass bowl, the room gains a dose of sophistication.
A home in Brazil from Galeria de Arquitetura tells another story by sticking to a simple formula of predominantly two items used for the tabletop – large filled planters surrounded by stacks of books. There’s an occasional found-looking object on a couple of stacks, but that’s it. The presentation is predominantly horizontal and flat, therefore not distracting from the vertical interest of the tall windows and view from the room. For clients with a large collection of books, this is a fantastic way to enjoy them, with easy access to browse the pages. This type of arrangement can be quickly refreshed and adjusted to accommodate new books or to clear space for drinks or food trays, if needed.