Ask the Experts: Home Styling Tips for Beginners

  • Jul 4, 2019

New to decorating and don’t know where to start? In our latest Ask the Experts column, we seek the advice of home styling experts to see what are some fail-safe ways to style your home.

Why is home styling important?

Home styling isn’t just about creating spaces that look like they came straight out of an interior design magazine—although kudos to you if you can achieve that—but it’s also about personalising your home so that it reflects who you are. Emeline from Truffula Forest likens styling your home to creating a sense of belonging, while Visha Nelson, the founder and designer at The Cinnamon Room, sees it as a means of self-expression.

Home styling is a way to express you in your home.

Design: Fuse Concept Beyond just a showcase of your tastes, home styling can also be seen as a way to improve your quality of life, according to the team at Stylodeco. “Coming home to a space that speaks to you, your style, and that is curated with things you genuinely love will instantly make you feel calm and at ease.”

Best areas in the home to work in some styling magic?

Most of the stylists agree that any flat surface in the home is a good place to incorporate some styling. Nina Beale, the owner and director of Bungalow 55, suggests the coffee table, which she thinks most homeowners tend to neglect.

Flat surfaces, like the coffee table, is one of the best places to work in some styling.

Design: I-Bridge Design “More can be done on the coffee table, as it’s usually a big flat surface in the centre of your living room. I always recommend a beautiful box to contain your remote controls and add some life in the form of scented candles or flowers," says Nina.

Flowers help to add life and texture to any styled space.

Design: Bungalow 55 The Stylodeco team highlights three areas where you can focus your styling efforts on. One, the entryway, as it’s where you make the first impression of your home. Two, a large empty wall where you can consider turning into a galley wall, which is a great way to add a personal touch. And finally, the bathroom or bedroom vanity, as styling these private spaces can add a spa-like experience to mundane daily rituals.

Consider turning your wall into a galley wall, filled with art or your personal pictures.

Design: The Scientist

Daily rituals get a lift thanks to a perfectly styled vanity.

Design: i.Poise Interior Design

What are "vignettes" and why should we care when it comes to home styling?

You may have heard of the term thrown around a lot by interior stylists. It is used to describe a small styled space that forms a pleasing scene and is done by arranging different objects or furniture together. A vignette is an easier way to think about home styling, since it helps to break it down into smaller parts of the home. Here are some ways to do up your own vignette, according to the stylists: Vary heights: One of the ways to create a perfectly styled vignette is by varying the heights of your décor items. Stylodeco suggests adding flowers to vary height, while Emeline from Truffula Forest recommends having the tallest element arranged at the back and the shortest in front to create visual balance.

Vary the heights of your grouped objects for visual interest.

Design: Icon Interior Design Stick with a colour theme: If you’re just starting out, Emeline advises sticking religiously to a colour theme. Have not more than four elements arranged on a tray, which can help to assemble your pieces together.

Keep to a single colour theme for the best effect and vary the tones and textures of your items for interest. Here, a classic palette of white allows the variety of materials to shine.

Design: The Scientist Stack elements: Once you’re comfortable, you can try stacking the different elements together. For instance, a stack of magazines or books would provide a great building platform for other decorative accents, suggests Emeline.

Books and magazines are some of the best tools to create more interest in a vignette.

Design: Arete Culture Keep a collection together: If you’re displaying a collection of items, keep them together as they tell a better story rather than having them scattered around the room, says Nina.

Group similar objects together, rather than separate them throughout the room.

Design: DistinctIdentity Find a focal point: Visha recommends starting with a focal point for any vignette. The focal point should be the essential of a room, e.g. the bed in the bedroom, and then adding accessories around it.

Versatile and easy-to-use accessories to use or buy?

Visha at The Cinnamon Room recommends going with a rug or carpet. “It’s one of the easiest way to transform a space. The placement of a rug softens the room, grounds the area and creates a focal point. It also adds texture and colour to your interiors and often completes a space effortlessly.”

A rug helps to tie everything together.

Design: The Cinnamon Room The team at Stylodeco agrees: “Rugs create boundaries and these boundaries create a visual segmentation within a space and helps to pull an area together.” Besides rugs, Stylodeco also wants you to consider lamps. “Table lamps, wall lamps and floor lamps give off ambient light, which creates a cosy, relaxed atmosphere which we feel is one of the elements that make a house a home. Always pair ambient lamps with warm white light.”

Warm light creates immediate ambience in a space.

Design: The Monocot Studio In terms of smaller accessories, go with glass wares and crystal bowls, recommends Emeline. “They are classic and timeless pieces that will never go out of style. These staples not only stretch the dollar, they also catch the light and amp up any styled space.”

Classic pieces like glass wares add a timeless touch to any styled space.

Design: Fuse Concept

Common mistakes to avoid when it comes to home styling?

For Nina of Bungalow 55, one of the biggest mistakes she encountered in her styling projects is homeowners rushing out to buy key furniture pieces without taking into account how they live and then having to rearrange their layouts based on their purchases. “I see clients purchasing 8-seater dining tables and they never entertain at home. I see clients purchasing sectional sofas and they don't watch television.” She says that styling a home is ultimately to tell a story about the person living in that space. “It shouldn't be about creating a showroom.”

Consider your lifestyle habits before making big purchases for your home.

Design: Notion of W Visha, on the other hand, sees many homeowners positioning their furniture wrong. “In an effort to create more space, I often see all pieces of furniture pushed against the wall. In a lot of cases, this leads to no real focal point, making the central area look bare. By pulling furniture away from walls, you can actually create cosier spaces.”

How do we prevent our styled spaces from appearing overly cluttered or messy?

Less is definitely more when it comes to home styling.

Design: DistinctIdentity The main advice from all the stylists? Go with less. “Look at the size of the area you’re decorating. You may only need one lamp on the console, rather than two. Go with bigger items rather than a lot of small items as small things, when grouped together, tend to create clutter,” says Nina.

Opt for larger elements rather than a clutter of smaller objects.

Design: Sujonohun Concept & Design Truffula Forest’s Emeline concurs. “It can get pretty overwhelming and exciting when it comes to decorating with your favourite things, but remember less is more! Rotate and declutter the accents every few months to keep things looking fresh. This way, every prized possession gets their fair chance to shine!”

Rotate your decor items every once in a while to refresh a space.

Design: Lemonfridge Studio Stylodeco shares with us a pro tip to prevent clutter in a small styled space: “Stick with the golden rule of styling with odd numbers—either in 3s or 5s. That is the maximum we would advise, especially if you’re styling a small space like a table-top surface.” Have a home styling tip to share? Let us know in the comments!  
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