Styling tips and tricks

Want your coffee or end table to look like the photos you see in magazines and on design blogs? Adopt these few secrets, and you’ll master photo-worthy styling that’s got purpose and isn’t just a surface of stuff.

1. Use odd numbers. Five is more interesting than four.
2. Mix up the shapes. Think spheres, rectangles organic lines and unique geometry. Safe bets include books (with like spine colors or themes) trays, tabletop clocks, frames, candle holders and coasters. For this end table, I found a glass box that I filled with natural objects, a gold trophy and shells that I paired with a cylindrical candle and a couple of frames. Shop places like TJMaxx, Marshall’s, HomeGoods, Target and thrift stores.

3. Add fresh flowers. Nothing warms up a room faster than the introduction of posies. Stick to the room’s color scheme and bring in monochromatic blooms or introduce a color pop into a neutral space.
4. Stick to two or three colors max. You can easily go crazy when it comes to shopping for decorative pieces for a room. The trick to reining yourself in is to set color boundaries for yourself. I honed in on silver, gold, and white objects for this space.
5. Use what you have. This toy elephant was already part of my prop inventory, and I thought it would be the perfect thing to fill an odd, narrow space in the entertainment center, so I spray-painted it gold. This stack of books was already part of my client’s library. I just made pretty book covers from sheets of fancy paper to create a coordinated collection.
6. Longing for more color? Now you can permit yourself to introduce punches of color. We stuck to soft metallics, shades of gray and pure white in this living room. To make it a bit more interesting, I added a collection of red books on the coffee table. (There is also a touch of red in the black-and-white sketches I hung on the wall.)

Freshen your decor for summer without spending a dime

I’ve been living in Lausanne for a month and a half, and I already feel the need to redecorate. Since we’re only here for eight months, I’m not willing to put any money into the apartment, seeing that I won’t be able to bring much back with me. I decided to freshen up the existing decor with things I brought with me.


I have scarves, sarongs and pashminas, loads of them. I picked three gauzy, fringed numbers, all with a similar salmon-y pink color–one striped, one solid and another with an ethnic print on it–to wrap these lime green pillows on the couch.

Green pillows

Scarf pillows

For all three of these pillows, I placed the square green pillow in the middle of the scarf, sarong or pashmina, then followed these same steps for each one.

Wrapping the pillow in a scarf

I wrapped the pillow like a present, folding in either side widthwise.

More wrapping of the scarf

Then I folded the long sides of the scarf around the pillow so that they overlap at the center of the pillow.

That's a wrap

I knotted this one at the back. The striped version is knotted in the front, and the ethnic print is knotted in the front as well, but I tucked the ends in to hide the fringe and make it more about the large-scale design. To summerize the brown leather modular sofa, I used my lightweight gray scarf as a throw under my refashioned pillows.

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My scarf decorating didn’t stop in the living room. This is my very boring dining table.

kitchen table

Nothing says summer like a crisp red, white and blue palette, so I set a patriotic table with an elegant spin.

Bracelets and tea towels

These red-and-white tea towels came with the apartment. I used a few gold bangles I packed as napkin rings and my favorite royal blue-and-white striped scarf serves as the tablecloth for this summer soiree setup.

A patriotic table

The last room in desperate need of a refresh? The loo. It’s white tile and lacks any storage. Luckily, I brought my collection of pretty floral toiletry bags and double-sided adhesive squares (I brought pictures from home and knew I couldn’t hang anything on the walls).

toiletry bags

Now these colorful cases corral the things I need to keep handy by the sink–hair ties, a comb and cotton facial pads–and add a pop of vivid print to the bathroom.

Bathroom storage

A Parisian-inspired foyer

Parisian-inspired foyer

An elegant chair, round table, classic mirror, stacks and stacks of fashion magazines and a few edited objects greeted Scott and I when we entered the lobby of our hotel in Paris. I was immediately inspired.

Parisian foyer color inspiration

And meandering through Paris’ romantic streets, we stumbled across this little bistro, which led to my color scheme for a Parisian entryway I would create.

Parisian-inspired foyer final

My little entry starts with a curvy chair and a table that I would paint Cathedral Gray. I would opt to remove the top and replace it with a carrara marble remnant cut to size. Check your local stone manufacturer or distributor. The vintage gold mirror would be hung low, and I’d make simple chalkboard art (just paint glass frames with chalkboard spray paint) to prop on the table against the wall. On the table, I’d place a weathered gray lamp, a faux antiqued bust, a silver bell and an aquamarine Eiffel tower figurine. To light this lovely little vignette, I’d hang a gold French chandelier, of course.

Styling an entryway–for less than $100

A neutral and bright living space

Entryways may occupy the smallest square footage in your home, but the small space should not be overlooked when it comes to decorating. I partnered with the incredibly talented Jennie Sullins of BeautyHive Studios to illustrate a few ideas for making an entrance, whether you prefer a relaxed reception or a fashionable foyer.

There was one long wall in this entry, so I found an inexpensive long and slim console table on Craigslist and painted it Cathedral Gray. I decided on a gray, white, silver and gold palette for this project and painted the new hardware gold.

How to style an entryway

Think symmetry when it comes to creating order–even if you’re faking it–in the entryway. These matching starburst mirrors hang at the same level just outside the edges of the table, creating the illusion of a grander foyer and reflecting extra bits of light from the front door.

Styling the entryway

To add some personality to this passageway, I used what Michelle, the homeowner, already had–a collection of black-binded books, a blue vase and a pair of bookends (they used to be bright yellow!), which I painted with the same gold-leaf spray paint I used on the hardware.

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