{2 fool-proof formulas}

     Is your coffee table a barren gathering place for water-rings and remote controls? Don't you wish you could put together an artful vignette that showcases your personality and enhances the style of the room? Um...heck yeah you do. When was the last time anyone gave you a compliment about what a lovely remote you have? Fret not, friend: Here are two easy ways to style your coffee table, complete with pictures and fool-proof diagrams.

You will need:
1. A tray. If you do not have a tray, a large plate will do the trick. A large bowl works, too.
2. A plant or a vase of flowers. If you can't run to the flower shop, examine your backyard for options. Consider potted plants, trees, shrubs or even tall grasses fair game. Bowls, compotes, or pretty water goblets can make great vases in a pinch.
3. An armful of books and/or magazines. When looking around the house for books or mags you might use, consider whether the titles say anything about your interests, and more importantly: whether the dust-jackets or covers are pretty! Seriously, it's more important that they complement the existing decor. Look especially for eye-catching colors or prints. Oh, don't worry. This next one has plenty of opportunity for self-expression...
4. An armful of meaningful knickknacks.  Look for travel trinkets, things that have been passed down, that remind you of a special day or just make you smile. Your home should be haven for all the things that make you happy. So style accordingly!
5. A pop of color. Make sure something(s) you grab from the list above is (or are) a really saturated hue.
The Plans:
Style Composition 1
(Ideal for working with a smaller tray and a potted plant.)
Speaking of using things that remind you of a special day: The round brass tray was used by my dear friend, Vanessa, during a special fire ceremony she performed for us at our wedding.

     Arrange the books/mags, plant and tray in the format shown in the diagram above. Grab those knicknacks I mentioned and arrange them in small groupings of 3 or 5 (odd numbers look best) on top of each stack. The books/mags act like pedestals, elevating your beloved treasures. Don't forget the pop(s) or color!


  A capiz shell bowl filled with bright flowers injects a dose of color into an otherwise neutral vignette. The vintage clocks-lighter belonged to my parents, from their first home--a treasured heirloom. But what I love most is that entire arrangement feels at once exotic and hopeful, as though in concert the quirky llama, the magical iridescence of the capiz shell, the austere elegance of the pyramid, the sort of ethnic-rawness of the stone trinket box and the whimsical floating clocks seem to suggest there is time yet for travel to far away lands.

(By the way, some of these charming knickknacks are available for sale in The Shoppe.) Go have a look!

Styling with books: A few funky art & design books, a bold flash of color in the form of an infectiously bold lady's bio, and a bit of chuckle-inducing neon captions about my beloved, betimes wacky, hometown. Color, pattern and above all, humour--an excellent design formula worth noting. A few eclectic accessories on top offer another layer of insight into the homeowners' minds. (Aren't we fun?)

Style Composition 2
(Ideal for working with a large tray and a floral arrangement.)______________________________________________________________________________________________
     Set the largest stack of books down on the left side, portrait-orientation, and place the vase in the center of the books. In the center of the table, set down the large tray and a bright array of small books, perhaps colorful paperbacks; or you can make your own eye-catching covers out of cardstock. The small books go on the right side of the tray to create a visible decrescendo. For the left side of the tray, aim for something slightly shorter than the vase, but taller than the neighboring stack of paperbacks. This is the perfect design moment to really showcase something unexpected: It's a large tray, so be sure to serve up something interesting! Lastly, another small stack of books to the far right--not more than two or three, so that the stack is smaller than the last--will finish off the set.
 You'll notice that I tend to not leave well-enough alone in my own home...note the various pops of color. (But how can I just choose one!) And the piece de resistance at the very end, an open book revealing it's punchy graphic stripes (Stripes! Gasp! My favorite!) functions as yet another unexpected objet d'art.

How's this for a great find? Jade green or bust! Get it??? ...I know, I know--stick to making pretty.  


This darling little brass turtle is in need of a good home. Can you see this little guy living with you? He's in The Shoppe now!

The bold stripes are the perfect backdrop for the delicate colors of our picturesque Geisha Trinket Dish (available in The Shoppe, of course).

Can you guess the name of the book, by the way? It is none other than the apropos "Decorating is Fun!" by the queen of ballsy design, Dorothy Draper. (A total must-read for anyone interested in home decor.)

I hope you've found this little tutorial insightful. If any of this was helpful, please let me know with your comments below.
Until next week!



  1. Great post! I recently use some of your tips when thinking if a way to store accessory pieces for a client. I stacked awesome books underneath a bowl and plate I used to place major statement pieces and then used memorable items around it like you said. Thanks for this post.

    As always, I'm giving it a smile, a wink and smooches
    Stephanie M. Guerra, ~Stiletto, Fashion & Personal Stylist

    Email: tastebystilettostyling@gmail.com
    Follow me and Like:
    Twitter: @stilettosstyle
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    Blog: stilettoclicks.com

  2. Steph,

    I'm so glad you found it inspirational! Thanks for all the love and keep up all your great work. Not every stylist will go the extra step to consider clever storage for their clients. You rock, toots!



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