How to Avoid Styling Mistakes
10/28 How To

How to Avoid Styling Mistakes

A few tips to get you out of a styling rut.

We like to think of styling as the cherry on top of the design process. It’s the final touch in elevating a space and telling a story.

Styling is about so much more than laying out pretty objects in a row. Thoughtful, personal styling can really bring your space to life.

“Mistakes” in design are always subjective, but there are a few things we notice tend to make a vignette feel a little one-note, and so today, we’re sharing a few things we’ve learned to try to avoid over the years.

Styling mistake no 1. — Disregarding scale.

When there are a lot of tiny accessories in bookshelves, on coffee tables, on countertops, etc. it can quickly make things look cluttered and random. Instead, we like to break up all the little objects by adding large pieces into vignettes like boxes, large vases, bowls, etc. If you get stuck, try corralling small items together by anchoring them with trays or in groupings.

Don’t be intimidated by large accessories! Not only are they substantial and grounding, but the grand scale of them can bring out the smaller items surrounding them as well!

How to Avoid Styling Mistakes
How to Avoid Styling Mistakes

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Styling mistake no 2. — Not Giving your space room to breathe.

White space is crucial if you want your space to feel calm and composed. We love decor, but never aim for an explosion of accessories. If you don’t give your eyes a place to rest, your hard work goes unnoticed.

How to Avoid Styling Mistakes

Styling mistake no 3. — Using too much of the same shape.

Whether you’re decorating on a tabletop or filling a built-in, thinking in terms of shapes can help your flow. Soften the angles of boxes and books with vases and decorative objects.

If you find that you have too many small objects, use stacked books or trays to anchor the pieces and give them a space to gather.

How to Avoid Styling Mistakes
How to Avoid Styling Mistakes

Styling mistake no 4.—Using too much of the same material.

In a lot of kitchens and bathrooms, we notice that people tend to use too much of one material they love, which can end up overpowering a room. For example, you might love brass, but if every accessory in your kitchen is brass, it can end up blending together.

We love to juxtapose our materials to create a well-balanced look that allows our favorite pieces to shine. Softening a metallic with rattans, wovens, or other natural materials can make sleek elements stand out even more, and vice versa.

How to Avoid Styling Mistakes
How to Avoid Styling Mistakes

Fresh kitchen accents.

Brighten up your space with textured serveware to add dimension to your kitchen look.

Styling mistake no 5. — Involving too many trends.

Let your personality show through in your aesthetic. Focus more on what you love rather than what is “in or out.” Avoid buying different versions of the same piece because you love that look. Instead, try to find a few items that really speak to a moment in design you’re attracted to and incorporate timeless transitional pieces to let it shine. This also helps you not tire through trends as quickly!

How to Avoid Styling Mistakes
How to Avoid Styling Mistakes

New textural layers.

Mix elements of warm and cool tones to create a blended look.

This post has been updated from its original version.

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Studio McGee
  1. Thank you for these tips. You and your team are doing amazing things. Thank you Studio McGee! says:

    Thanks so much for these tips! You and your team are doing amazing things. Thank you Studio McGee!

  2. As always – love the informative, simply broken down structure of this post! And I LOVE being able to shop each photo directly below it. Thanks for always spreading the love SM + team!

  3. I always love the way you combine different materials. It’s stylist and homey. Thank you for sharing the tips!!

  4. I wanted to ask what your opinion is on using the same finish on all plumbing fixtures throughout a home for continuity – or if it’s ok to use different finishes in different rooms and what the rule of thumb is for that if you do?

  5. Please label these posts “from the archives”, “a look back” or find some other way to let people know the content was originally posted years ago. Nothing wrong with “recycling” good content, but it feels sneaky/untrustworthy to not be up front about it.

    1. Thank you for your feedback! We are re-doing some of our older blog posts to update the content. Although the links are the same, the tips and photos are all new!

  6. Hi!
    We are living in a rent house and it has a built in furniture in the living room area. It has a big space in the center part for the tv and very narrow and spaces with shelves (that I can take Out) in the sides and 3 spaces on the higher part. The middle lower part above the tv space have doors in the center and drawers in the sides but I put a soft just in front of it and I really don’t have to see that too much. I just don’t want a tv in there! I am not used to have one in my formal living room. The built in furniture is kind of outdated for my taste. My decoration is contemporary eclectic and I have hope that I can deal with that built in thing. I am looking at the photos you post and the book shelves look very nice because they have enough space to display one or more than one object. What could be a good option to decorate a very symmetrical and traditional style built ifurniture like the one I have now that can look contemporary and formal And not looking too symmetrical? I put in the TV space 3 stoned antiqued sculptures in rock that I own with pedestals but in the upper small “holes in the sides and the upper part what I should display? Artificial plants? Or what? I would love to get some ideas.
    Thank You!

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