Walls of Wonder

Styling and Organizational Tips by Whitney Durham Interiors

(Photo by Laura Negri)

We are turning to our friend Whitney Durham, of Whitney Durham Interiors, for our next installment on organization for our extended stays at home.  Check out these helpful tips on where to begin when styling coffee tables, bookshelves and kid's "stuff".  The goal is to achieve a collected, warm feeling in your home without being overwhelmed by clutter (says the girl who battles clutter every day;).  Original art plays a big role, especially on bookshelves!  Take it away, Whitney!

xx, Emily

Coffee Tables…

When styling a coffee table, consider the personality of the room and factor that into your choice of items to display. There are three main items I’d suggest you include (below). Keep in mind that you want to leave room to see your pretty table, set a drink down, or play a card game!

  • Greenery - I love including a mix of fresh flowers and/or greenery. This adds warmth, color, and an organic element to the room. My personal favorite flowers to use are tulips because they have lots of greenery on the stems and seem to last a while. They can also hold their own in a vase without too much styling and shaping. If you don’t love to buy and change out fresh flowers, a fern or moss bowl is always a nice alternative. You can get creative with your vase or greenery bowl - I personally love to use blue and white ginger jars, mint julep cups, and vintage milk glasses. 
  • Books – Consider displaying pretty coffee table books that have a similar color palette to the room, without being overly matchy-matchy.  I encourage clients to collect hardback books on topics that interest them via amazon.  For example, books on art/artists, travel, home and garden, your city, home decor, musicians, etc. Pay attention to the size of the book when purchasing. You want a few larger books and a few smaller to stack on top.
  • Antiques/Unique Objects - I always mix in a few unique objects on the coffee table too. You can find one of a kind works of art or objects in antique shops and flea markets that really add character to your coffee table.  Some of my favorites are sculptural pieces, Chinese calligraphy brushes, boxes and turtle shells. When styling the surface, layer your objects in different directions. You don’t always look at your coffee table from the exact same angle! 

(Photo by Ballard Designs)

Family Room/Living Room Bookshelves…

When styling bookshelves, my goals are to create balance and reflect the personalities of my clients. I suggest mixing items with various shapes, textures and sizes on each shelf to play off each other and add interest.  You can’t go wrong with a mix of artwork, sentimental framed photos, books and objects.

(Photo by Ballard Designs)

  • Balance – Balance is key to styling bookshelves that will be pleasing to the eye.For example, in the image above, I visually balanced the objects on the left of the TV to the objects on the right of the TV.  Since I have a heavier object on the right bottom shelf, I balanced that on the bottom and top left shelf.  Don’t forget to factor color and texture into the equation for balance! 
  • Artwork & Framed Pictures –Original artwork is a key component of bookshelf styling!Works of art in various sizes and framed sentimental photos add the most beauty and personality. I would suggest mixing a round object, square frame/artwork, and a stack of books for warmth, height and dimension. Just be mindful of clutter and do not to place too many objects on a particular shelf.  I usually stick to a maximum of 5 different types of objects per shelf. 
  • Books - If you feel like you don’t have enough items to fill your bookshelves, books are your answer!If you can’t afford a whole collection of coffee table books, you can always find books at flea markets or second hand shops. I would suggest removing the dust jackets to display the colorful spines.  Consider pairing books and objects of a similar color palette for a cohesive presentation.  

 (Photo by Laura Negri)

Kid “Stuff” (Toys, Books, etc…)

When making choices around how to store items for your children, simplicity and dedicated spaces are key!

(Photo by Laura Negri)

  • Baskets - When styling and organizing childrens’ rooms and mud rooms, I love to use baskets of all shapes and sizes!  Baskets can hold stuffed animals, dolls, legos, video games, dirty clothes, dress-up clothes, etc…! They keep order in your child’s room and make it easy for them to pick up after themselves too.  All while being easy on the eye! ;)
  • Fun Favorites - I like to stack colorful board games and hardback books together for function and appearance. Try placing one of their favorite (but attractive:) toys on top for a fun detail. These items add color and personality while looing cute stacked and grouped together. Leaving these items in plain view also allows children to access them easily!
  • Dedicated Spaces - If you have a mud room, it’s ideal to have separate sections with drawers/baskets for each child. This gives each child their own special place to put their shoes, toys, book bags, etc… If you are able to have drawers, baskets and hooks for their own items, it will help keep everyone organized and prevent less chaos in the mornings before school or after-school activities! 

(Photo by Holly Knight)