Do you ever come across a photo of a space that makes you want to dive right in? While that background may have been set by a talented designer, a lot of the magic of photographs comes thanks to careful styling. Interior photographers know the best tricks for making dreamy spaces appear even dreamier for the lens (and some even have tricks good enough to turn a mediocre space into a head-turner). These methods can teach the rest of us a thing or two about making our homes look great in person, too.
Luckily for you, Sara Ligorria-Tramp, a Los Angeles-based photographer and interior stylist, and Joanna Hawley-McBride, the digital influencer behind the lifestyle blog Jojotastic, spilled their best styling secrets in a discussion at the inaugural Meridian Experience, a 4-day conference and retreat for interior design influencers and content creators in Bellevue, Wash. (Calling all aspiring or active design content creators: the waitlist for the 2023 event is now open!) Whether you’re looking to spruce up your bookshelves, put the finishing touches on a room, or just impress company, read on to learn styling tips you can implement right now. Your home is about to get a serious upgrade!
When styling a single shelf, wall, or table, select items that are similar, but not the same, or “cousins, not twins” as Hawley-McBride puts it. A simple way to put this tip into practice is with vintage art. Two portraits with similar color palettes or objects with relatively similar scale will help add that special something and keep your home from feeling like it was pulled from a catalog.
Group in Threes
You may have heard of the rule of thirds in photography. Well, it works with styling too! When using the principle in photography, you divide a scene (in this case, a room) into a grid – three horizontal lines and three vertical. If you’re having trouble visualizing this part, it may help to look at the space through your phone’s camera app with the gridlines turned on. The points where the gridlines connect make great spots to place decor items.
Remember the Golden Triangle
By grouping accessories together in a triangle, you can create more complete “moments” around your space. Experiment with objects until the combination feels right, and when in doubt, use odd numbers to create visual balance.
Bring in Signs of Life
To avoid that sterile, catalog vibe, remember it’s okay for your space to look like people live there. Be it a casually draped throw or the novel you’re currently reading set on a side table, the pros know there is such a thing as too perfect.
Go for Variety
Variation is key! Bring in a balance of height, color, and texture to create visual interest and to avoid a scene that looks too flat. Think brass sculptures alongside a textured vase or stone objects stacked on coffee table books.
Like in any element of a room, you want to consider proportion and scale when setting up the finishing touches. Oversized art or tall greenery in a large vase can help fill space, but a too-large vessel may make your shelving look crowded. Similarly, a massive table with tiny decorative elements will look vast and uninviting. Play around with a few options to find the best fit. (Learn more about scale and proportion in decorating here).
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