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,



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