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How-To Accessorize a Side Table Perfectly.

All of us enjoy accessorizing – it’s the fun part of the decorating process.  We get to shop for all those charming, shiny, silly, beautiful things that we just can’t say no to.  While the shopping may happen throughout the project, when you finally get to put them in place it generally means the project is done and that’s such a relief.  Until you actually place all your carefully chosen doodads and realize……..the room doesn’t look quite right – it doesn’t look polished and perfect.

Don’t go into a tail spin yet.  Like just about everything else in design, good accessorizing can be learned.  Follow a few simple guidelines and soon your rooms will look like you hired a professional.

A side table: BEFORE

A side table: BEFORE


Here’s an example of a typical home side table (minus the clutter of letters and newspapers…..keep the clutter put away so your tablescape shines).  You need a lamp but it’s blocking a lot of the picture; you love candles; the clock is helpful and functional and then the little round box was a gift.  Each piece on it’s own is attractive and meaningful, but as an appealing tablescape, something is definitely missing.

Make a few changes in the developing tablescape.

Make a few changes in the developing tablescape.


This second picture makes a few changes and a stronger statement.  The lamp is moved off center, closer to the seating and doesn’t block so much of the picture.  The fact that it slightly overlaps the frame of the picture serves to connect the art to the table.  A red vase is added to bring the color of the art down to the tabletop but more importantly to bridge the height difference between the lamp and all the shorter elements.  All the various elements are clustered together to form a more cohesive statement.

Final tablescape: After

Final tablescape: After


The final tablescape is a balance of color, size, interest and function.  I added a silk orchid for a touch of softness and life.  It was a little too short so I raised it with a couple of books.  I filled in the empty wall space created by moving the lamp with a dimensional small piece of art – again providing a connection between the tabletop and larger art.  The clock (the functional item) is still front and center so you can easily see the time, the sentimental box is readily visible and there’s still plenty of room to put a drink.


Tablescapes can evolve over time as you travel, go shopping or receive gifts, and these pictures show how that can happen.  Keep in mind a few basic guidelines:

  • Connect the tabletop to the wall or furniture piece behind it by placing a large enough piece to connect the elements and anchor the tablescape.
  • Create interest by varying the textures (honeycomb candle against a smooth ceramic vase).
  • Vary the heights but keep them connected by generally graduating from shortest in front to tallest in back.
  • Add a touch of greenery or flowers to the tablescape to provide a softer element.
  • Leave enough empty space on the table for it to remain functional.
  • Don’t be afraid to try something new.  It’s certainly easy enough to move things around and rearrange.  Bring in accessories from other rooms of the house and try them on your tabletop.
  • Create a tablescape then leave it alone and live with it for a couple of days.  If it still doesn’t feel right, change the elements around.

As a designer I love to accessorize, just like you do.  I’ll scour the showrooms, stores and internet looking for the perfect “jewelry” to finish a room.  I’ll find ways to incorporate the owners’ favorite things into my plan.  You too can have that designer look with a little practice and help from me.

Have an decorating dilemma?  Contact me – I’d love to help solve it.  Did you find this article helpful?  Susbscribe and get more great tips and,



please, share it with friends.

Content sourced from yourdecorating


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5 Small-Room Rules to Break

By Susan Kleinman


Rule to Break: Paint Small Spaces White
When decorator Nick Olsen moved into his 525-square-foot studio in New York City, the walls were painted white, in keeping with small-space convention. “But the place just looked gray and dingy,” says Olsen. And so, rather than just slapping on a newer, brighter coat of white, he painted the apartment’s main room Oregano Green (Benjamin Moore 2147-10), in an oil-based metal enamel, to resemble lacquer.

“Although the apartment is small,” says Olsen, “it’s actually rather grand with 12-foot ceilings, huge windows and a high-relief fireplace. So I felt it would be a shame to tone it down with a pale color or white.” For even more impact, he painted the doors glossy black and the trim white, and added a deep teal velvet sofa. Olsen didn’t shy away from bright color in the 35- (yes, 35!) square-foot kitchen either, wallpapering the fridge in a bright spring pattern and painting the walls and the ceiling Sea Mist Green (Benjamin Moore #2041-50). “To make color work in a really tiny room like this kitchen,” Olsen suggests, “paint the walls and ceilings the same color so you’re eye doesn’t stop at the ceiling line.”


Rule to Break: Stay Away From Lots of Patterns

Solids, tone-on-tone textures and small prints can make a room feel larger by making it seem calmer. Sometimes, however, calm can be, well, boring. But there’s no chance of dozing off in this dressing room designed by April Sheldon. With its bright red chinoiserie wallpaper and zebra-patterned rug, the space is vibrant and lively. And rather than make the nine-and-a-half by 10-and-a-half foot space feel even smaller, says Sheldon, the patterns actually enlarge the space.

“I think big bold prints on the walls and lots of pattern in a small space really distract you from the size of the area,” says the San Francisco-based designer. “The room takes on the feeling of a walk-in art piece.”

Of course, not every mix of patterns will work well in a small space. The key, says Sheldon, is to make sure that the scale of the pattern varies. “If the scale of the wallpaper and the rug had been the same, it would have been overwhelming.” But because the wallpaper’s pattern is much smaller, the room looks – and feels – comfortable, rather than cramped.


Rule to Break: Keep Knick-Knacks to a Minimum

Small, spare space; sleek, empty surfaces. It’s a great look for a trendy hotel room, says New York-based designer Alan Tanksley, but at home, even the smallest space benefits mightily from the addition of favorite objects and collections.

Although the main living space in Tanksley’s own studio apartment is just 400 square feet, it provides several of what the designer calls “visual destinations” – arrangements of interesting objects carefully placed on shelves and tabletops to attract the eye. Among his favorite arrangements is a collection of white objects from several centuries and many countries, grouped together on an antique roll-top desk. “Although they’re made of different materials,” he says, “the objects harmonize because they are a single color.”

Which is not to say that colorful objects can’t work well in a small space, too; it’s just a matter of editing. “Always remember that you need a place for the eye to rest,” says Tanksley. “It’s better to group a large number of like objects together than to scatter them on every tabletop throughout the room.”

Rule to Break: Very Small Rooms Demand Very Small Furniture

While small furniture leaves more room for walking around in a small space, miniscule couches and chairs are rarely comfortable. So rather than place two pokey little loveseats in this 7×12-foot sitting room, designer Amie Weitzman built large seating banquettes into the blue-tweed-upholstered walls.

“This room is part of a guest suite,” explains Weitzman, “So comfort was really the top priority.” The sofas are deep enough to sink into and large enough to flop onto, “and building them right into the wall,” Weitzman says, “buys you a few extra inches of floor space.”

Even if you are using freestanding pieces in a small room, you can go with substantial furniture. “The one thing to make sure of,” says Weiztman, “is that if you need to, you can walk around the furniture comfortably.”


Rule to Break: Hang Lots of Mirrors to Visually Expand a Space

True, mirrors reflect light, which can make a little space look brighter. And yes, mirrors will reflect the depth of the space to the opposite wall, making the room appear larger. But do you really want to look at a reflection of a blank wall – or stare at the same painting in duplicate?

“Sometimes,” says New York-based designer Roderick N. Shade, “a room is so small that even if you mirrored every surface and every piece of furniture, you would just have a small mirrored room.”

So, instead of turning your small space into a hall of mirrors, why not just accept its petite dimensions – and then line the walls with art and objects that you really love, as Elizabeth Blitzer did in the dining area of her 625-square-foot New York condo. “There really is nothing wrong with a small room,” says Roderick Shade. “So sometimes it’s best not to try and make it feel bigger. Just make it the best small room possible.”


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