When I receive a call from a client interested in booking a consult, often times they ask for help accessorizing and styling their home. Accessorizing is so important because it is the final layer. It can make the difference between the home feeling and looking finished or not. Adding this final decorative layer comes so easy to a designer but I know it can be a struggle for some. Since I spent last weekend styling a home I thought I’d share seven tips to style your home like a pro.
Let me back up a bit.
Last weekend, my friend Michelle Cortizo, asked myself and another friend, Kim Macumber, to assist her in accessorizing and styling a full home. Michelle had been working on this house for over two years. It is situated directly on the water and it is jaw dropping gorgeous. All the furnishings were in place but the final styling and accessorizing had yet to be done. Bare walls, empty entrance, uninspiring mudroom, you get the picture. The client was headed off for a week of skiing and asked Michelle if the house could be accessorized and styled before she returned. A pretty big job for one designer to get done in a week (did I mention this house is large)!
Michelle, not one to say no to a favorite client, called in reinforcements (me and Kim) and the three of us did a marathon styling weekend. It was a lot of work but so much fun. This wasn’t the first time we had worked as a team. Last Fall we teamed up to design a Moroccan themed table at the Boston fundraiser Heading home to Dinner. We had so much fun working on that event and last weekend was no different.
As designers, because it is such second nature to us, we often go through the motions without really thinking in terms of “steps”. In hind site though, we actually do have somewhat of a formula and this is what three pros did to accessorize and style a house in a weekend.
1. Have a Plan
Since Kim and I had never seen the home, it was up to Michelle to do a lot of the prep work. She made a master list of every room and noted what was required to make each space look and feel finished. It’s a good idea to ask some questions such as, does this room need some art work? Does this table need something on it? What about the bookcase? Michelle made her list and spent the previous weekend shopping. A big difference between a pro and the amateur is that the pro doesn’t drive from store to store, willy nilly, hoping something will “catch their eye”. No, always start with a plan. Even if you don’t know exactly what you are looking for, have an idea of what is needed before you head to the stores.
2. Shop with intention
If there is one thing I want to caution you against, it is running out and filling up a cart with a bunch of cheap crap made in China. The things we bring into our homes should have a presence. They should bring us joy and lift us up. Seek out things that have meaning to you. It was import to Michelle and her client to shop local. She was looking for accessories that would give the home some “soul”. Michelle also loves to support local artists. Original art has such a bad reputation of being overly expensive. It certainly can be, but often times local artists have great prices on their work and Michelle found several beautiful pieces in the hundred dollar price range.
More origional art at the end of the hallway
3. Use what you have
When styling, pull out accessories hidden away in closets, drawers or cabinets. Is there is something that you already own that will work? Since the house we were styling is a new build vacation home, the client had very little. We did find this silver octopus bowl that we filled with green fabric balls.
We also used the client’s pretty blue peacock bowl on the new sideboard in the dining room.
The dining room is a show stopper and Michelle did an amazing job. (table base by Dunes and Duchess)
4. Add something unexpected
Don’t take your home too seriously. Have a bit of fun and incorporate something whimsical or unexpected. The client is a dog lover so we added this locally made dogie created from recycled newspapers.
We placed him right in the entrance to greet everyone as they walk in the house.
5. Add something vintage
Even though this house was new we didn’t want everything in it to be all new. Michelle had already sourced some vintage coral prints for the mudroom
Then the three of us spent Saturday morning trolling local vintage stores to find a couple more things to add a feel of history. We scored with this antique rug that we put in one of the guest bedrooms. The two art prints on the wall were also locally sourced.
6. Shop high low
I don’t think there is a client who exists who tells the designer “go wild and spend whatever you want”. If there is, please direct them to me! No, EVERYONE has a budget, even the wealthy. Mixing high and low priced items allows for a few special high priced items that can then be balanced with some lower priced items. Michelle purchased a gorgeous statement bowl for the bookcase. It reminds me of barnacles on a rock which is so appropriate for the ocean front home.
7. Add something living or green
This last tip is more of a do as I say, not as I do. Since this is a vacation home the clients aren’t there much during the dead of winter. It wasn’t practical to bring in living plants or flowers. Instead, we found some realistic looking flowers and a faux orchid to give the feeling of living plants. Although I am not a huge fan of faux flowers there are some really amazing ones on the market today. If for any reason you can’t bring real plants or flowers into your home then look for the best quality faux you can find.
A new service
The three of us make a pretty great team. I don’t know what it is exactly but we all just jive. Our personalities are a good mix and no one has a big ego.The three of us together are better than one of us alone. By the end of last weekend we realized what a valuable service we gave to Michelle’s client. In a single weekend we took her home across the finish line and gave the home heart and soul. There is nothing else that needs to be done but for the family to arrive and start enjoying their beautiful new home.
We wondered if other home owners might like to have three pros sweep in for a weekend and pull their home together. There certainly seems to be a need for an accessorizing and styling service for those homeowners who are struggling to pull it all together. Within the week we came up with a name and a logo for this new service.
It’s our three initials and the hashtag #styleup. We are ready to roll! If you would like the immediate gratification of having your home accessorized and styled in a weekend, reach out to any of us for details.
Michelle is currently wrapping up the final touches on her new website. Be sure to follow her over on IG at @MichelleCortizo. She will be sharing a lot more images of the project over the next few weeks. You already know how to find me and you can find kim Macumber here.