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Home Styling | Three Steps for Creating a Harmonious Space


While spending so much time at home during lockdown, the creativity did at times take a dip. It was challenging to stay motivated, to keep home from becoming lacklustre, without so much as a fresh bunch of flowers to brighten the space. It did however encourage resourcefulness - including a new appreciation for foraging outside for greenery - and the constant need to rearrange furniture and objects. Ideally I like to take my time when styling and photographing spaces at home, but often during the course of day-to-day life it can become a little bit rushed. Often while editing photos, especially due to my perfectionist streak, I notice little things I wish I had tweaked further. If anything, lockdown gave the gift of time, and I'd find myself styling areas until I was genuinely happy with the end result. It also got me thinking about why a space ends up feeling 'just right' and how I reach that point. Breaking it down into a few key steps, here is how I create that sense of harmony. 

— The Three P's: Proportion, Placement and Personalisation —

When deciding on furniture for your space, the overall proportions are key. Always do your research and measure up carefully. For example when choosing a sofa, (a good starting point for your living room), you don't want it to be too small, where it gets lost in the space, or too big, where it dominates. The same applies to your coffee table, for which I have written a break down of how to choose the right one for your space here. In addition to the size of your room, take into account its shape and ceiling height. These will help determine such elements as how tall your floor lamp can be, and what size art work to choose.

This is one of my favourite parts of the styling process. Following on from choosing those key furniture pieces above, you should have a clear idea of where they will be placed in the room. When it comes to artwork, lighting and smaller objects, there is more room for interpretation. To demonstrate, I've shared our living room above, styled in three slightly different ways. When it came to hanging my two artworks, I chose to place them slightly to the left of the sofa, rather than directly above. In the past, I have always liked to create gallery walls that are irregular, with a mix of art works in different sizes. Changing to just two in the same size, I wanted to keep that feeling of interest. A good tip is to cut out the shapes of the artworks (to scale) on to paper and place these on the wall first, to create the configuration you like best. 

Our lamp, with its moveable arm, then balances out the white space. Achieving a sense of balance however is also about embracing space, to allow the pieces to breathe. Ideally, the pieces should be placed in such a way that they are in dialogue with one another.

Smaller items (which I go into more detail about in 'Personalisation') are carefully placed to create balance -  grouped in different heights, with a mix of shapes and textures. 

When we replaced the dining table lights (changing from two pendants to one), I took a long time figuring out not only what would be best aesthetically, but also where to hang it and how low. I took into account how the lamp would look at every angle, especially being surrounded by so much glass and outdoor greenery, along with how it would look in proportion to the paper pendant lights in the adjacent living area.

This is the fun part, where you get to hone in on your personal sense of style to choose finishing touches that make your space sing. Keeping the two P's above in mind, look for items that compliment the proportions and placement of your key pieces. Layer in textiles such as rugs, cushions and throws for comfort and warmth. We have wooden flooring, so I love the feel of a cosy, textural rug underfoot. They also help define the living and dining areas within our open-plan space. Preferring a neutral palette, I use cushions and throws to introduce depth and contrast by way of earthy colours. 

My styling usually always includes the following mix: flowers/greenery (fresh, dried or foraged), books, sculptural pieces and vintage finds. I especially love choosing handcrafted pieces with tactile finishes to introduce further texture and interest. Look for items that introduce interesting shapes, such as wayward foliage or sculptural ceramics. Create harmony by grouping pieces in such a way that is pleasing to the eye (as mentioned above), all while adhering to your chosen colour palette for overall cohesion. 

Styling and photography by Michelle Halford for TDC

See more from the Home Styling/Staying In Series here. 

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