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A step-by-step guide to styling any space

Styling a space without professional help can feel overwhelming at times, it might seem like there are too many pieces to find and it's unclear where to start your search from. Here, I invite you to join me on my styling process accompanied by a clear step-by-step template that you can utilize when furnishing any space. I am using my cozy reading nook as an example but if you'd like to just read the instructions, feel free to jump straight to the "TIP" sections. I chose to use our reading nook (rather than something more traditional like a bedroom or a living room) as an example here to illustrate the universality of the steps in a less typical space and to show how this approach can be taken for projects of various scales from a large room to a tiny corner in a hallway.

And, as always, all items used are linked in the "shop the look" section below.

When it came to designing our living room, I knew we needed to define different zones due to large open but irregular-shaped space. The second I saw the fireplace, I had a clear image of a reading nook in mind. So I began my search. And I started with a chair. The chair, to be exact. I had defined the parameters: comfortable, warm-toned wood, white upholstery, something more structural to create a juxtaposition with the curvy couch (stay tuned for that one! she is a stunner), and of course, coastal with a mid-century modern flavor. And Anthropologie had just the right one! And since it was a chaise, it eliminated the need for an ottoman and provided almost a bed-like place to spend a leisurely afternoon on.

TIP 1: When planning a space, start with defining the key element - that one functional centerpiece that will do the work. This will give you a clear idea of where to start from. For example, for my reading nook the key element was a chair, a table can be that key element for a dinning room, a couch for a living room, you get the gist! Once you have an understanding which piece is the foundation for the space, then define its parameters: style, materials, color palette, even brands - whatever is most important to you - that can help narrow down your search.

The next item on my list was a side table - where you can place your coffee while enjoying a morning newspaper or a glass of wine when reading a novel before bed. It was clear for me that the space would only allow something tiny and preferably round - anything with corners would get in the way, so a martini or a drink table was the answer. I found a tiny marble and brass table that was pretty neutral yet brought some tonal and material variety to the space.

TIP 2: Finding the right supporting items is next on the agenda, and to do that think about how you are going to utilize the space. In my case, I love reading in the evening with a glass of wine, that brings out a need for something I can place my drink on. Different examples are chairs for a dining room (with a table as you key element), or ottomans for a home movie theater, or stools for a bar counter. But remember, it must be based on your needs. And don't shy away from doing it differently than everyone else! You can do a couch instead of chairs for the breakfast nook, if that's what you prefer, or you can absolutely skip the office chair if you use a standing desk, instead, you can choose a bookshelf as a supporting element. Remember, the process of designing a space is as fluid as it gets - it's all about you and your needs and preferences - the rules mean nothing if the setup does not work for the user.

Once the main characters of my reading nook were chosen, I moved on to lighting. A floor task lamp fit the bill since it can be quite flexible in directing the light and it would also complete the needed trinity in this corner - I used a design rule of grouping items in odd numbers to add visual interest. You do not have to always follow this concept, however it can be helpful if your space seems to be lacking balance. In my case, I needed a juxtaposition in height that the third element - the floor lamp - presented. The lamp I chose is bronze with a marble base - the materials echo the drink table and do not take your attention away from the main character - the chaise. (Unfortunately, the lamp I purchased has been discontinued but I linked a few similar options in the "Shop the look" section below.)

TIP 3: Don't forget the lighting. Lamps create ambiance and provide additional sources of light. They can also create the contrast in height that is necessary for the space to look balanced and interesting.
TIP 4: Consider placing your large pieces in groups of three - it is believed that placing items in odd numbers creates visual interest - in other words, allows your eyes to travel though space and is more effective at capturing your gaze. Try this principle if you feel like your space is lacking something and is not producing the desired effect but don't be afraid to not follow the traditions of design - rules are meant to be broken.

Once the primary functional pieces have been sourced I moved on to finishing touches - the accessories. I went with a comfortable pillow in a tonal pillowcase with a pattern that reminded me of waves (a subtle way to create a coastal vibe) and a cozy textured throw. And voilà - the only things left to do were to grab a book, pour a cup of tea and turn on the fire place.

TIP 5: Cozy up the space with accessories. Choose your finishing touches mindfully - visualizing the use of the area is your key to success here. I am a big fan of clean uncluttered spaces where each item serves a purpose. Of course, there is a wide array of things that can be considered "accessories" from picture frames to pillows and rugs. Be selective - this will help reduce expenses, minimize waste and more importantly keep your space comfortable and functional. Throws and pillows are great in living rooms but might be unnecessary in the dinning or office areas, candle holders can be a beautiful touch on your bookshelves but an inconveniece on the bar counter.

Below is a list of accessories room-by-room that will work for most but take it as a suggestion - you make the choices and your personal needs and preferences should be the guide here, below is a mere reminder of a variety of tools for making your space personal and cozy.

Kitchen: tea towels, serving boards, utensil holders, spoon rests, fruit bowls, bread baskets, food storage jars, trays.

Dinning room: table cloths & runners, placemats, vases, greenery, candles & candle

holders, napkin rings & holders.

Living room: throws, throw pillows, coffee table books, ottomans, trays, baskets, rugs, wall art, plants, candles & candle holders.

Bedroom: rugs, benches, throws, mirrors, trinket trays, humidifiers.

Office: waste baskets, paper trays, pen holders, rugs, plants, stationery items. Bathroom: toothbrush holders, additional mirrors, mats, trays and storage jars, towels, jewelry organizers.

Nursery/kids room: throw pillows, wall art, rugs, hooks, bins and baskets.

Entryway: baskets, trays, bowls, vases, wall art, hooks, poufs/benches.

The list goes on... But remember, keep it fluid - you dictate the rules here!

Follow us on Instagram @fluidbykate, tag us to share your finished spaces and share the love.


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