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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.)