The ABC’s of Styling a Room

November 1, 2016

Text by Karin Lidbeck Brent

Styling a room for photography whether it be Instagram, your website, or simply for your own enjoyment can feel overwhelming— and while it’s a lot of work—making a room pretty should also be fun.

Here is a bit of the inside scoop on what goes into my work as a stylist for New England Home.

Create Balance

When you look at these rooms everything feels picture perfect. That’s because a lot of noodling and work happened behind the scenes before the final photo was taken. Literally everything is moved, styled, organized and tweaked so the visual lines intersect the right way and your eyes take in all the gorgeousness with out any distraction. Checking how objects and lines in your photo intersect is an important part of your picture taking. While this photo seems incredibly simple, it took a lot of push and pull—just enough fur throw, pillow, and rug. Careful consideration was also given to the placement of the bowls, gourd on the table, and the yellow pears in a bowl to balance the yellow leaves. All of these choices and the careful placement of each piece creates a photo that is balanced and pleasing to the eye.

Styling a room Sophisticated country-style vignette

Interior Design by Joanna Seitz, photograph by John Bessler

Layer Accessories

The fun part is bringing in some fresh accessories for the fluff, and the work is getting everything in its right place so every single element adds to the whole, and the room feels lived-in yet perfect. As a final touch I added in the computer (complete with cord) and the coffee cup to add a dose of reality. All these elements give this photograph a sense of home, not a furniture showroom.

Styling a room Litchfield county neutral library

Interior design by Joanna Seitz, photograph by John Gould Bressler

The key to a well-styled room is adding layers. I always bring more accessories than I think I’ll need, and I’ll scour the house looking for pieces that will provide additional weight, scale, and interest. This was the perfect room for creating layers everywhere, bookshelves, coffee tables—even the floor. Layering is like playing with building blocks, creating shapes vertically and horizontally both in front and behind.

I layered piles of books on the table, a bit disorganized, with one book open as if someone just left the room. The scrabble board under the table tells you that this a family space where people play games. The height and scale of the room demanded a big bouquet with a weighty vase. Next time your sitting in your family room look at what the table really looks like at the end of the day and then imagine making it look pretty.

Styling a room Family room with stone fireplace

Interior design by Marisa Bistany Perkins, photograph by Laura Moss

When we started with this room the bookshelves were filled with family photos and less collections. To warm the space I replaced the photos with potted plants mixing them with layers of fun collections pulled from around the house. This was a house full of fabulous collections and fun stuff and I borrowed from other rooms in the home to create the shot.

Styling a room styled bookshelf with natural objects

Interior design by Marisa Bistany Perkins, photograph by Laura Moss

Envision the Space Being Used 

When I saw this elegantly casual dining room I instantly thought of enjoying a large Sunday morning pancake breakfast on a cool fall morning. I unabashedly loaded a to-go box with pancakes from my hotel for my pancake props. I added in some maple syrup and the requisite cup of coffee. I only wish I’d had a Sunday paper to add—that would have been the perfect finishing touch!

Styling a room casual dining room with blue chairs

Interior design by Cameron Scwabenton, photograph by Greg Premru

Need for inspiration for styling a room? Head on over to our gallery of rooms, and you are sure to get plenty of ideas!