How to Style a Side Table

Buying nice home decor is enough of a challenge, but sometimes styling it once you get it home can be even harder. Being able to style decor is what can take your house from plain to instagram worthy. Some people have a natural gift to make things look pulled together, but for some, it’s a challenge.

This guide will help you style any type of side table– from an console table to a night stand. The styling principles can also be used for just about any part of your home.

Styling is actually just the art of using design principles. For those of you who didn’t go to design school, there actually is a science to making things look nice! Our minds are constantly making sense of the world around us, and design principles help order what we see, and make our brain happy. You can read more in depth about design principles here!

Image via

When styling something, you want to lean on the design principles to make order of objects. The table below relies on hierarchy and balance. There are objects on either side of the mirror, but the lamp has more visual weight because of its dark color. To balance this, there are 2 vases on the other side. Adding the pouf at the bottom play on proximity to add a little assmetry to the table.

Image via Dwell

The table below uses a similar strategy. The tall branches grab your eye, so the right side of the table is balanced out by adding a large object and the basket beneath. Also notice how on both tables in the image, objects are grouped with 2 or 3 friends. Grouping objects of similar colors, shapes, or proximities help create visual order of what actually is just random objects!

Image via 204 Park

This table creates balance through symmetry. The repeated lamps and baskets have a really nice visual balance. If you left the table with only this, it would look too plain and boring. Adding the cluster of plants in the middle ads a ton of visual interest to explore.

Image via Anthropologie

You will notice all of these tables are using a mirror above the table. The mirror adds a focal point that is the first thing you look at as you make order of the table, but it doesn’t have to be a mirror. This smaller table uses framed art as a focal point, a floor standing plant to create proximity, and a group of 2 vases and 3 books to fill out the table. Overall, there are 3 major pieces to look at– the art, the plant, and the table. The art itself even has 3 pink brush strokes and 2 dark ones that help visually group them! Are you starting to get it?!

Image via CB2

That is your design lesson for today! If you still are a little unsure about your styling skills, remember to keep it simple, find 2-3 objects with similarities to group, and create visual balance between the “weights” of objects– weight meaning heights, colors, or scale.

Did this inspire you to restyle part of your house? Post a link to it below!

2 thoughts on “How to Style a Side Table

  1. Love the design principle image, so helpful! I definitely fall into that “struggle” category, thank goodness for Pinterest and bloggers who can guide the rest of us through it :). So thank you!

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