If you follow me on Instagram, a few weeks ago you got a peek at a new addition in our living room (and I’m not talking about that very spiffy and very sleepy dog!) I picked up a great, used, slatted wood mid century coffee table from Pittsburgh Furniture Company, which is one of my go-to spots for cool things with tons of character. Seriously, go there right now. It’s the best. Up until now we had what was basically a filler coffee table. Nothing special (not even worth showing you…I promise) and it just wasn’t doing anything for the living room and our existing furniture. If anything, it was bringing the rest of the room down and if there’s one thing I don’t like, it’s downer furniture. It’s like wearing that perfect little black dress with a pair of Crocs…it just cancels out all of the good stuff going on. I had been on high alert for something with a classic shape and clean lines when I found this great mid century coffee table. The fact that it was old and imperfect made it even better and the $75 price tag made it a no-brainer. Don’t you love when your favorite thing in the store is also the least expensive?! Because I think we can all agree that, that rarely happens.
Styling a console table, or other surfaces like shelves, mantels, etc., can sometimes be tricky. Too many tchotchkes make you look like a hoarder but, on the other hand, naked surfaces just seem weird. I mean, where’s all your stuff? Were you just burgled? Did the cast of hoarders just leave your house and take all of your
crap treasures? Striking just the right balance of “things” on a console table can be difficult though, so I’ve come up with a few pointers for creating perfectly styled surfaces every time.
Disclaimer: Sometimes, empty surfaces in my house stare into my eyes and beg me to pile junk on them. They manipulate me and convince me that it’s okay to stack junk mail on them and that no one will notice if they’re covered in magazines I don’t have to heart to throw away yet. Basically, it’s a really unhealthy relationship so, in order to avoid these moments of weakness, keeping surfaces styled and looking pretty prevents me from junkifying them. Believe me, its not something I’m proud of.
This Hemnes Sofa Table from Ikea used to live in our foyer as an entry table but we recently moved it into the dining room where it acts as a sort of wet bar/console table for now. It’s a table of many identities and I like the new persona it has taken on. When it came to styling the top, I layered items on, step by step, to create a nicely styled surface. So, here are my tips on styling a console table (or any surface for that matter) without fail…
1. Create Symmetry: A good way to start the styling process is to create a little symmetry. I love a good pair of lamps, like these Tripod Metal table lamps from Target, to flank whatever is going on in the center. Whatever you’re using as your symmetry on the edges, in my opinion, the taller the better. You want these to be the tallest items in tabletop decor so give yourself some height to work with. This symmetry will ground the surface and create the “frame” of the table so a pair of tall lamps is a great way to get this symmetrical ball rolling.
2. Get Centered: Inside of that symmetry you’ve created, you want to have some sort of focal point. I’ve used a nice big mirror hanging on the wall above the table but this is also a good spot to hang or lean a piece of art. The same goes if you’re decorating a mantel…use that big open space in the middle to make a statement.
3. Make Levels: In order to dynamically style a surface so that it doesn’t fall flat, it’s important to create different visual levels. If you have a bunch of stuff lined up in a row at the same height, it’s going to look unfinished. My favorite way to create different heights and visual levels is to stack books. Books, in my mind, are the best way create pretty and casual looking layers on different surface. (You might remember, when it comes to using “books for looks“…I ain’t scared.)
4. Use a Tray: This may be one of my favorite tips for styling spaces in general. Don’t underestimate the power of a tray. A good tray can take something from “cluster of junk” to “thought out collection” instantly. Put a few things in a tray on your surface and suddenly it’s a well styled space. For this wet bar/console table of ours, I’ve clustered a few pretty decanters, liquor bottles and stemless wine glasses in a tray for easy entertaining and convenient drink making. All of this stuff alone can say “severe alcoholic” really quickly, but put them in a tray and suddenly I’m the stylish hostess with the most-est.
Even though styling surfaces can sometimes seem difficult, using these 4 general tips will help you get it right every time. Taking it one step at a time and layering in your items will help you create dynamically styled console tables and prevent you from looking like an alcoholic hoarder. Because, even if you are, nobody needs to know that ;)