Add a circle
I know I got this one from a Megan Morton workshop some years ago, and it’s simple and obvious when you think about it (but also, it’s only easy when you know how, right?). So, this tip is basically, to try and add a round shape to a room to break up all the right angles. Think about it: sofas, beds and most tables are squares and rectangles. Sometimes a circle is all you need to get a room just right. Think round rugs, round art, a round coffee or dining table. A few years ago, the ‘in’ way to do this was with a juju feather hat. Remember when they were everywhere?! They’re still lovely but not as common now.
Hang art at eye height
Another one which seems obvious but I see people getting it wrong all the time. I’ve been told this by a multitude of stylists and interior designers and of course, it’s right. Try and ensure the middle of your artwork is at the average eye height. Simple. Of course there are always exceptions with gallery walls and the like.
VIDEO: How to hang a gallery wall
We all have these lying around and super stylist Steve Cordony says: “When styling accessories, I always love to layer with books to give height to decorative items. Balance, whether it be asymmetrical or symmetrical, is key. Always stand back and look at what it is you’re creating – you will know if it feels right using your ‘design eye’!”
Rugs: bigger is always better
I can’t attribute this to anyone in particular because EVERY interior designer and stylist worth their salt will tell you to buy the biggest rug you can afford! It’s always better to have your furniture ON the rug, not AROUND the rug!
Shop without buying anything and from within your own home
Melissa Penfold says: “Keep your eye in shape by window shopping. It’s free, keeps you up to date and inspired, and you’ll pick up stacks of great ideas that you will be able to imitate at home.” Don’t have time to window shop? Hit up Pinterest and your favourite design blogs.
Our favourite international design blogs.
The bed linen formula
Of course, every stylist and designer has their own favourite way to make a bed, but Block judge Darren Palmer says: “Transform your bed simply by styling the linen with some complementary or contrasting coloured sheets, an appropriately sized bed cover, two decorative cushions and two Euro cushions added to your everyday sleeping pillows.”
Leave the colour scheme until last
This one I learned from the master, interior designer Greg Natale, when helping him write his book, The Tailored Interior. So often we start with the idea “I’m going to do X room blue and white” or “that bedroom’s going to be neutral” but this is actually one of the last decisions Greg makes when bringing a room together. Try and think about the other elements of the room first, before the colour scheme, and you may find it works better for you.
Greg Natale on how to arrange cushions
Pull furniture away from the wall
I already knew this but had forgotten until recently when Briar Stanley from Sunday Collector was at our place styling a shoot for Pottery Barn. Try and give furniture room to breathe rather than automatically shoving it right up against the walls around the edge of a room. We have a huge living room so it was silly to have our sectional sofa right up against the back wall. Once Briar suggested moving it into the room a few feet, it looked so much better (thanks Briar!)! If you have space to do this, you could also have a sofa/console table behind yours, which is another great styling opportunity. Even if you don’t have a big living room, you may find that if you consider that the sofa doesn’t have to be against a wall, there are other surprising options for your furniture layout. Sofas in the middle of a space can also break up open plan areas really well.
Look to your wardrobe for inspiration
This one’s from Shaynna Blaze of Selling Houses Australia and The Block, who warns not to get too caught up in trends when it comes to colour. “Look at your wardrobe and your accessories for inspiration, and determine what colours you’re most drawn to. This will help you settle on a colour scheme that suits you, and this is the hardest part! The fun bit is finding ways to bring this scheme into your home, whether it’s a bold feature wall or smaller accents of your favourite colour in furniture and accessories, complemented by a wall colour in a lighter shade of that colour.” (As some who has a 75% navy wardrobe, I find this works for my home too! Jen).
When you have kids, sometimes you have to just let it go!
One of our favourite stylists, Julia Green of Greenhouse Interiors, says: “I would love to tell you I live in a pristinely well styled home but I would be lying! There is crap everywhere! I just let it go these days. Life is too short and I would rather hang out with my kids in my mess than clean it all up and waste the chance to see them. They are precious, precious people. Just messy ones.”
Well, that last one sure makes me feel better. Phew!
Maria Cerne says
Fantastic styling tips Jen! Practical and achievable. It’s great to learn and pick up tips from the pros. Thanks for the great article.
I love the secretary bureau desk you are sitting at, where is it from?
Jen Bishop says
It’s a one of a kind, painted by Fiona from Liylfield Life. She can source you one if you’d like something similar 🙂 http://www.lilyfieldlife.com/
Great blog. Thank you!
Also, love the grey couch in image sourced from Kate La Vie – do you know where it’s from?