I am apparently a 6 trick pony. And while I add new tricks every year (with varying degrees of success), I still love them when they’re done right. The thing with this one isn’t that you need new stuff, it’s that you arrange the stuff already in your house in a cooler way. It’s like how fashion stylists show you how to see through the edge of your sleeve under your rolled blazer or wear a belt haphazardly to look sloppy in a cool way. These tricks I use are all impermanent, easy to perform, and will only make your home look more stylish and interesting. If nothing else, it’s worth a try, isn’t it?
Huge statement branches from your garden
I’ve been styling with branches in the backyard for over a decade – flowers are often just too expensive for our shoot’s budget. I remember Brady cutting that branch in the photo above for a bedroom at the Portland Project and even I thought, “Woah, she’s aggressive.” I didn’t say anything because I genuinely loved how he went about it, using his creative expression and didn’t want to temper it. A year later, Real Simple asked if they could use that image on the magazine’s cover. While it may be too extreme for everyday use, it was certainly editorial enough to be cover worthy.
The entire mountain house is covered with branches in the backyard – and some can last WEEKS and then dry out, for months! No seriously, some of the manzanita (the branches above) have been dried to look real and are still there 2 years later (which sounds gross as I write this, but I promise not).
Don’t forget the sweet “twig”. Sure, we placed one on the rim of the tub (and most wouldn’t need it) for our photo, but the vanity is a great place to add something organic.
Another great one to dress up is that little nightstand – which might not be advisable on a daily basis, but think of the places you can put a big statement branch that makes sense for your life – to me it’s the dining table, mantle and entrance table.
Hang art in unexpected places
We recently styled this painting on the tiled wall, which I loved in theory but was terrified of doing it myself. But Priscilla used a tile drill and it was so easy (for her). I usually use commission strips for hanging tiles on art, but only if they are smaller pieces and don’t have glass in them.
When we shot Allison Pierce’s house, Velinda and Erik hung some art on her kitchen splashback tile, which I think can look really sweet and unexpected. They used the Velcro type Command strips and Erik swears by it.
If this scares you or feels impractical, consider just leaning it or even putting it in the back of your closets (a fun unexpected hack). That’s typically what I do in a kitchen.
Now the ‘art under a window’ movement can really polarize people because it breaks so many rules, but I still love its brutal rebellion. The point is – think of unexpected places to hang art. It’s super non-committal (command strips!) and shows a lot of personality.
Sara and Emily B. joined this rebellious gang and hung that art under her window like a real baller.
Dress up the back of a sofa
One move that’s far less rebellious, but super-high-impact, is the colorful or patterned throw on the back of a couch — especially when the couch is floating and you can see the back. To make this work for a long time, don’t throw it over the back cushions, but tuck it behind the cushions and drape it over the back, probably covering some seams in the sofa (if it’s a sectional sofa).
If the back of your sofa is prominent, don’t let it be naked. This is especially a good move if you like patterns but don’t want to pin it down to a fully upholstered sofa – you can swap it out so easily, of course.
The easiest way to style a bed… The lumbar pillow
I may never go back to 5 pillows on a bed after the invention/discovery of the long loin. They may be more expensive, but the one-cushion party is a simplified, practical and really stylish look.
Bowser’s cat, Daffy, approves (also how cool is that headboard she made? SO DOPE).
Remember when I shot that Target leather lumbar and then it sold out so fast and you were all outraged? Good news! It’s back!!
The layered art Lean
I think I like to play around with art placement a lot – but “the lean” is one that those casual types out there can really embrace. All you do is literally lean the art instead of hanging it. It’s a strong but casual move.
If you want to do something riskier, like we did here, you can lean it against a window (WHAT??) giving this side of the room some love.
HOT TIP: Be sure to vary the sizes (and types) of art! If you look at the cabinet above, we leaned three different pieces of art – all different sizes, two framed but different colored frames, and one unframed with a completely different texture (because it was a painted piece of wood).
Jess leaned her art on the floor with a graphic sculpture in front of it (good move, J). That gallery wall is pretty epic, but that unexpected piece on the floor is pretty awesome.
I MISS STYLING – ugh, can’t wait to style the farmhouse. I’m desperate to come up with new moves and show you guys (although next week’s basement reveal is pretty awesome, if I do say so myself). Have a great weekend and if you want more design and style hacks feel free to pick up my new book
Oh, and if you’re in the New York City area next week I’ll be doing an intimate book signing at Rejuventaiton and I’d love to meet you! Get your ticket HERE. There will be food AND an open bar too!
Opening Image Credits: Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: Portland Project: The Living Room Reveal