Design School How To Style A Coffee Table
When we put the finishing touches on a living room, we like to style the coffee table (and other surfaces) with a little soul–really tell a story of who lives in the house, what they collect, and where they came from. It’s no different for you. Tell a story about yourself and how you live. Your coffee table is great place to do this because it sits in front of your guests and begs them to look closely at what they see.
Here are a few simple rules to get you started:
1. Use some form of low, medium, and high. In the pictures here, you’ll see that we have a flat picture album, a slightly taller bowl and container, and a large horn that provides height. Books are great items because they can be whatever height you need simply by adding more to the stack. In the store, we use books more than any other object to provide interest to table tops.
2. Use objects that have soul—something personal or collected. We like to use things that have been crafted by human hands. In this case, we used a intricately inlaid Japanese box, which must have taken a very long time to make. We also like to intrigue guests with something that they need to know the story behind. The rodeo picture never fails to strike up a conversation.
3. Use objects that function. In this case, both the Japanese metal box and the horn bowl can serve a purpose. Though we didn’t do this, we should have placed candy or a small collection of items in the bowl. The metal container could have held matches for the fireplace. The point is to make sure that nearly every surface in your home has the ability to function. That makes it feel authentic and alive.
4. Use something natural. Here we have two things gathered from nature. Flowers are always a great idea, too, but require that they be fresh at all times. That’s why we didn’t include them. A good substitute would be a bunch of sticks in a vase—or bound with twine and placed sideways on the table.
5. Use objects that are big enough to make an impact on your coffee table—but not too big. Here we covered about half the total surface of the table, which is enough to make it feel full but still allow someone to set down their coffee cup or wineglass. There’s nothing more intimidating to your guests than the prospect that they will have to move your things to make room—or risk spilling something because space is tight.
Follow these rules and we’re sure you’ll find it much easier to put a little personality into your coffee table. Happy styling!
Design School How To Style A Mantel
There has never been a better focal point in any room–ever–than a good mantle. It’s the very first thing your guests will see when they enter your space. Make it count with these simple tricks.
1. Try a lamp. Add a little glow and mimic the positive effects of a fire–those warming, glowing embers–even in Summer. We suggest a small lamp or two, but this effect can be achieved with candles as well.
2. Your mantel really should be ever changing. From season to season, rotating your most beloved objects. While mantels often beg for symmetry, an arrangement of an uneven number of small objects in the middle can be very nice.
3. Try one large focal point layered with smaller ones. We’ve used a large mirror here with a framed botanical pressing–both leaned against the wall rather than nailed into place. This allows us to easily swap items as our collection grows.
4. Use a few special objects that encourage someone to walk all the way up to the fireplace and pick them up; books that you’d want to read the spine of, a small box you want to open.
5. Don’t forget about what’s in front of the whole fireplace. Is there anything more inviting than comfy chair and book to read by the fire?
Design School Smette House: A Kitchen That Works
We are particularly pleased with our efforts for our dear clients Daryl and Kathy Smette, whose mountain home we had the privilege of designing from beginning to end. One of our favorite aspects of their home is the custom kitchen. We snapped a few pictures to provide a starting point for discussion about successful kitchen design.
Despite the fact that the some contains some grand spaces, the kitchen is first and foremost a functional design–not overdone and a wise use of space. We are always looking to bring comfort and warmth to our clients’ spaces, which is achieved here by lower ceiling heights than the majority of the common spaces throughout the house. The kitchen adjoins, and is open to, the dining and living areas but feels intimate, a great cozy space to hold a conversation late at night in front of the stove. Soft, dimmable, under-cabinet lighting and task light above the island avoid the need for large overhead fixtures. Custom painted white cabinetry with special hand glazing brightens what could otherwise become a dark room given the unfinished timber and ceiling. Levels of contrast are important to any space and illustrated well here.
American-made appliances by Dacor integrate seamlessly into the cabinet work, while a hammered copper farmhouse sink sits such that one can look out to the dining room and beyond to mountain views–a lovely place to work while attending to those seated at the bar that forms the backside of the kitchen island.
Counters are topped with stone, river washed Uba Tuba granite, and a ventilation hood is tucked behind a mantle decorated with some of the Smette’s collection of artwork and bronzes. Integrating art into their home is very important and we took every opportunity to do so here. The room has perfect balance, symmetry, and function. To keep the design symmetrical, a stained wood, stand alone “hutch” was built into the space alongside the fridge. This keeps special glassware handy to the dining room. And, of course, no Kibler & Kirch room would be complete without a handmade rug to grace the floor. In all, we think this kitchen is timeless, workable, cheerful, and a perfect example of quality over excessive size.