Wednesday, November 11, 2015

How To Style Your Coffee Table (for Thanksgiving & Beyond)

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I'm a firm believer that the present-bearing holidays should not be highlighted in your decor until after the start of December -- in my opinion,  the magic lies in limited exposure -- but I'm a big fan of celebrating Thanksgiving by taking the opportunity to "cozy up" your home.  And if you're very smart when styling your home for T-Day, you can simply swap out out a few elements when the next holidays roll around to make your home look fresh and festive. How do you do that? By following a styling formula. Today, I'm going to share my secret formula for coffee table decorating. This approach works in all four seasons but at this time of year, when we shift from one celebration to another in such quick succession, the formula really comes in handy. And don't worry, you can use these same rules when styling mantles, entries, consoles ... pretty much anything. Consider it your grouped-styling bible.

Step 1: Clear the Decks -- This one's kind of obvious. Clear anything off your coffee table (or whatever) and give it a good cleaning.

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Step 2: Add Dimension -- The goal when styling pretty much anything is to draw the eye across the entire space and the most effective ways to do that is to create different planes. Think about how your favorite home decor boutique showcases its wares; items aren't laid out in neat rows, they're displayed at various heights and in a myriad of ways. When styling an area of the home, try adopting this same philosophy. My favorite technique is to use a few of my favorite coffee table books for one, then either books with similar spines (vintage Penguin paperbacks are an affordable favorite that a friend turned me onto) or a decorative box like this one at either a higher or lower level. And then, finally, a tray (or something similar) that's almost as low as the table itself. As in most things, three is the magic number; three levels spread across the coffee table is your easiest/best bet to create the right amount of visual interest without making it feel busy.

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Step 3: Corral the Clutter - When decorating something in your home -- especially something as commonly used as a coffee table -- it's important to keep in mind that it's also a functional piece of furniture that will get daily use. And you and your family (particularly your smallest members) will be using it as a dumping ground. Make it easier on yourself by giving them a designated place to shove all their stuff. I always have one on the table and it's inevitably filled with Legos, barrettes and nail files. But I can live with it because it's contained. And that's saying something because O-C-D and M-E-G are essentially synonymous.

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Step 4: Bring The Outside In -- This one's kind of a "Duh" but really, it makes all the difference. Be it an arrangement like this one ( by the ever-fabulous Cedar Grove Gardens ) or just a pretty branch that you find on a walk, bringing the outside in literally adds life to your space. And that's always a good thing. The only thing to keep in mind is that whatever it is shouldn't block views -- between you and someone else, you and the TV, you and ... anything.And remember, the vessel holding it is just as important as the flowers themselves. This bowl is so lovely; it adds yet another level of visual dimension to the overall group.

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Step 5: Inject Your Personality -- If you want people to walk into your space, smile and say it looks awesome and "so you", then take the time to collect objects that reflect you. And that doesn't mean that your (albeit lovely) face has to make a framed appearance. Collect small bits that make you smile, remind you of something about you, your family or your adventures and you'll have a three-dimensional representation of your personality. And anyone who "gets" you will enjoy taking it all in (and honestly, screw anyone else. Amiright?) I like to think of each of my islands as a three-dimensional diary showcasing loves, likes, wishes and dreams. A little too vaguely-English-major of an explanation for you? Have a glass of wine and give a try ... you'd be amazed.

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Step 6: Leave Some Room -- OK, this one's probably going to be the hardest to understand but it's also the most important. If you want your styled space to look "professional" then you have to understand the importance of negative space. Tiers and bowls and bouquets are lovely but they need EMPTY space around them in order to shine. You want your coffee table -- or any space -- to look considered instead of something akin to your Great Aunt Maude's immense Precious Moments collection. So think of each of those tiers as islands in an archipelago -- something in and of themselves but part of a whole -- and you're off to a very good start.

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Step 7: Enjoy It -- Once you've created something pretty, SHARE IT. And I'm saying this as someone who's trying really hard to do this herself (I'm serious, I just invited over four boys and their moms for a playdate and I'm practically hyperventilating). I'm so often too nervous that my space isn't "perfect enough" for company that I won't invite people over. But really, how idiotic is that?  I AM NOT PERFECT so why the heck should my space be?? I'm quirky in a (I'd like to think) lovable kind of way. Quirky isn't perfect; it's quirky. And that's OK. So ... invite your friend over for a cup of coffee and enjoy the process of sharing a little piece of yourself. And then repeat.

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Need some more help getting ready for the holidays? Are you in Boston? Then check out Lusterity's Pop-Up Marketplace this Sunday, 11/15. RSVP in advance and can get a free ticket using the code "MVD" at checkout!


***This post was created in collaboration with the fabulous folks at Lusterity but all words, ideas and opinions are my own. Photography by the talented Marie Zemler-Wu.

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