After spending weeks and sometimes years designing a home for a client, staging is the icing on the cake, the finishing touch. One of the most common questions I get asked is “how do I stage or style the homes I design?”
Whether staging a coffee table, end table or an entire home, following a few basic design rules will help sell a house or create a home. Here are simple guidelines to use when styling horizontal surfaces such as bookcases and table tops:
1. Have Something Tall
Large vases or candlesticks are great. When candles are lit they add a festive feel and warm glow to the area. Large vases come in a variety of colors and can be used to add your own style to the room.
2. Add an Unusual Object
Select something that’s sculptural or unusual to express your personality. For example, a piece of coral or driftwood has great texture, adding depth and interest to the arrangement. A childhood toy, vintage camera or old binoculars adds character.
3. Include Something Fresh
A nice potted plant like an ivy or fern; even fresh-cut flowers add life to the space and are easy to change out for an added splash of color and emphasis. A couple of architectural leaves in a small vase will add a lively element.
4. Stack Books
Use a few large, attractive art books to make a stack or platform; this is a great way to let your guest know a little about you and your interest. Top it off with something decorative or even something related to the book subject. A collection of beautiful beach books topped off with a large conch shell or a bowl of sea glass collected from family vacations tells a great story and creates unity.
5. Group Like Objects
A pile of vintage boxes serve as a tiered platform for antique toys. By grouping similar objects, such as vintage clocks and toys, helps to create a collection and has more of an impact then when scattered separately throughout a home. Likewise by grouping objects by their finishes, color or texture creates a collection and unifies the arrangement.
6. Layer with a Tray
Large tables don't feel as overwhelming when you add a tray. I like to use woven or natural wood trays to add texture to the table; it divides the surface and organizes your collections to create emphasis and tell a story.
7. Vary Object Heights
Mimic the lines in a cityscape to create an artful arrangement. Use high, medium and low objects to generate movement. This helps keep the eye moving in a meaningful way as opposed to a boring straight line.
Arrangements do matter; anything can become a thing of beauty when paired with the right compliments, so take an artful look around your home and start to create your stylish space for your well designed life.
At an early age I set out to see the world, and while having already visited over 50 countries, I feel that my journey is just beginning. For me, travel and design go hand in hand. Whether seeking out great shops in trendy neighborhoods or exploring the architectural environment around me, discovering design inspiration everywhere I go enriches me to transform a client’s needs and desires into into their dream home.
Mike Howard is an award-winning designer specializing in kitchens, baths and small space design.