So I have finally reached the fun part of completing a room design.....the styling! The styling brings with it a whole host of decisions and in my case headaches! I have spent the last couple of decades traveling, collecting things and living in small houses so many of those things have been in storage whilst it has been fun to get them out and find them a home in my home I have realised there are huge gaps in what is needed to create a killer design. For me it is really hard to move forward on this as want my home to be a reflection of our lives simply filled with personal items. One thing I have learned to recognise is that not everything has to have a story attached to it. In fact if I can buy a few select items that really make the others pop I am doing a good thing.
Any room you design should have a collection of vignettes, in the lounge the main focal point is fireplace so the styling on the mantle has to be on point or the whole room will be thrown out of balance if you get it wrong - no pressure guys. Knowing this has sent me into a blind panic so I have decided to hit research mode and share my findings with you. Let me talk you through what I like in each of the examples below and why.
I was initially drawn to this as this lounge has dark blue walls, like mine, but when I looked at the styling there were other elements I really loved. In particular the large display of green plant life. I mean if you are making a statement just make it, this toe in the water attitude to design really grinds my gears. I think the scale of the mirror adds real grandeur without the mirror itself being ostentatious in design. I also loved the balance to a relatively neutral pallet that the bright yellow statue brings to the design.
Despite this being quite a stark colour pallet there is a lot of interest still going on. The sculptural pieces, the layered artwork. The very dark horse works a stark contrast against the white backdrop and makes the composition pop. I especially like that the flowers they used as the living element of the mantle design also have a sculptural quality. The overall design is quite minimal in its design and colour base so these flowers (which I think are aubretia) work well to compliment that, no bushy meadow bouquets here, and the small orange colour pops stop the whole thing being too bland.
This mantle has a lot more colour in which is far more up my street and is clearly above a working fire. I love that they have gone for a very commanding piece of art but balanced it well by offering the eye something else to look at. A small collection of bottles are a cute addition and they can be changed up by displaying different flowers or greenery in them. The mantle is a great place to show off a micro collection. Not everyone has 100 of something but a fair few of us have 3/4 of something. The books are a great way to add a bit of your own personality to a vignette.
By this point it is clear that I am drawn to layered artwork. Again the books are added with the addition of very cute book ends. The skull hung on the wall adds real interest and hanging it on the wall adds height to an otherwise low lying composition.
This is a really crisp design and shows that even with a minimal look you can still create interest. By making the layered art various sizes and altering the orientation it still adds interest regardless or the neutral colour pallet of the pieces. The simple shape of the black lamp works as a great sculptural piece. The plant softens the composure by adding life, literally and a much needed shot of colour.
I have saved my favourite one until last. This mantle is from the styling powerhouse that is Emily Henderson. The reason I love this one is that it is styled yes but it looks less contrived than other mantles I have seen. I love the amount of colour in the artwork and the colour continues in the stunning arrows and the warm metals. It combines colour, layering, personal books and quirkiness from the tiny wooden shoe and has a collection to boot the only thing missing for me is some plant life.
So what have I learned from this?
- Add some colour
- Add personality
- Add plant life
- Add collections
- Vary the heights and orientation of the pieces of art you choose
- And layering is key - it will bring depth to your mantle
Aesthetics are a very personal thing so work with the rules to best suit your taste just like the examples I have shown you. If colour is your thing, go for it. If you are not really into plants and flowers, skip them but replace that lost element with something that adds a more organic shape and breaks up the harsh lines. As for my mantle it is a work in progress I am still playing around with it but I have a good picture in my minds eye of where it will end up. That is the fun thing about your home is that it is never really 'done' it grows with you, you can build on an idea and pull others back. Happy styling!