Top Designer Recommended Styling Tips

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Gillian Grefe

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Published on April 23, 2021

Maybe you’ve been learning the dos and don’ts of interior styling bit by bit over the years, or maybe you’re brand new to what interior design means to you. Either way, we want to help you out! Our expert designers know there are a few key staples that add “oomph” to a space, no matter which style you’re aiming for. Designer Shelby Girard shares her insider insight on design staples that always work.

Combining Function and Form

Sometimes, your design elements cross paths with functionality in a way that just oozes perfection. What’s better than having eye-catching pieces that prevent condensation rings, add aromatherapy and ambiance, or offer useful information?

Coasters, for example, are great for subtle styling (plus, no coffee rings!). They’re perfect for adding a little something to your bare coffee table. We love this set of pink onyx coasters for just a touch of color.

If sticking to coffee table styling, there are a ton of ways to add small-but-mighty design elements to your living area, study, or rec room. Coffee table books add dimension and are interesting for guests to browse! “Use for any surface in stacks of two-to-three,” says Girard. We also have a killer round-up of our favorite interior design books, all of which make prime coffee table additions.

Moreover, to create some more depth, consider “a tray to group objects on a coffee table. Larger decorative bowls are also a great addition to take up some real estate.” Depending on if you want a set of bowls, something with a little charm, or something with height, decorative bowls work as standalone pieces or functional ones, too.

“Useful items like watering cans, candle snuffers, catchalls for keys, etc. are also a perfect way to combine form and function.” As an example, this gold candle snuffer is lovely to look at but is also ideal for any candle arrangements. Or, an object like this bold watering can adds intensity but is also right where you need it when watering day comes around.

Focusing on Style, Style, Style

Not every piece of decor has to serve an alternate function. Sometimes, design items can simply contribute, well, design! Shelves can be particularly difficult to style if you’re not sure where to start, but are great spaces to play with items you just love to look at.

“For shelves, layer small art behind books and objects to create depth. I also love adding in small plants! Plus, found objects like interesting rocks or driftwood can be placed on top of books or shelves, and decorative objects can add a sculptural element and break up the boxiness of books or frames.” Decorative objects are limitless and can be whatever you find appealing and worthy of your space! This mountain coral piece offers some serious texture and likewise, this chain figure adds intrigue.

Candles and greenery are great ways to spruce up any empty-looking tables. Opt for a candle that’s subtle or super unique, whether solo or grouped together. You can use them adjacent to some appealing vases or urns, too! “Vessels like vases and urns, either for florals or simply as sculptural elements, are wonderful design staples. I like to mix vessels with varying materials, heights, and silhouettes in combinations of three.” One great thing about vases is there is always something for everyone. Something on the lighter side, something bold and intense, something shiny and glam, or something simple and textured could be the one thing your space is missing.

And don’t forget the greens! For coffee tables or console tables, I always love to add an organic element using flowers or branches in a unique vase.” Whichever vase you choose, adding a touch of green or a floral element can really bring life to your coffee table moment. Faux flowers are all the beauty and none of the watering!

Ready for the cherry on top in your own home? Find a designer to help you today! 

Words by Erica Buehler