Houzz Contributor. Hi There! I currently live in a 1920s cottage in Atlanta that I'll describe as "collected."
I got into design via Landscape Architecture, which I studied at the University of Virginia. I've been writing about design online for quite a few years over at Hatch: The Design Public Blog.
Houzz Contributor. Hi There! I currently live in a 1920s cottage in Atlanta... More »
Ah, the tablescape. There's a fine line between a perfect, David Hicks composition and a pile of junky clutter. If you've never been much of an arranger/merchandiser, here is where to start.
Take a good look at your clean surface and give it a good dusting.
Think about scale and height and what you use the table for. Will you need room for a drink? Will it require a coaster? Do you need the light from a table lamp there?
What do you tend to do in this space? Do you need some of it to remain clear for different activities? What will you need to store there/What needs to be close at hand? Is there a blank and boring wall behind it, or something that could use some height?
A lot of tablescape arrangement is simple trial and error. Your eye will know when you don't like the composition of your items. Keep moving stuff around.
Consider fresh flowers. Choose a vase that suits your flowers and your space. I find that limiting the arrangement to just one species of flowers or branches is more versatile than a fancy arrangement (those are best as centerpieces).
Here's a quick cheat sheet for items that look great on different surfaces.
Mantles: Vase collections, candlesticks, perhaps a bust or sculptures. This is also a great place to prop pictures in different arrangements.
Beside Table: Start with a reading lamp. A smile pile of books you like that are also pretty with a small tray on top for jewelry or glasses that you tend to take off bed after you're already tucked in. A cute little clock (I like the kate spade enamel small clocks and the L.L. Bean Big Ben travel clock, to name a few cuties). Yup, you're done - it was that easy. The icing on the cake is a sweet blossom in a small vase.
Coffee Table: Obviously, you don't want to block your view of your guests or your television. A few coffee table books is always nice, and I like to keep a funky box or oversized retro ashtray to hold all of the pesky remotes.
Console Table: Again, candles are great on these, as well as busts, coral, plants, lamps, perhaps a tea service. Because these tend to be longer, some semblance of symmetry is great on a long console.
Your Desk: Personally, I like to keep my desk as clear as possible, so I tend to let my little tablescapes work in one little area. Right now it's simply a ceramic lamp, a fun John Derian paperweight, a small Snow and Graham standing calender, and a small handprinted paper journal from Venice. It's all about the objects you'll enjoy seeing when you pull up to your desk - it might be a matchbox car or a picture of your dog.
The more you experiment, the better you'll get at making these little arrangements. Here's how some people are doing it well.
Sometimes you might not realize that an object you already have can be arranged in a way that turns it into art. Look at all of your things with fresh eyes and ask yourself if it's something that you'd like to admire and show off.