How to Style Any Piece of Furniture Like a Pro

Every room and every piece of furniture will require different styling, but there are a few go-to ideas and positioning tricks to make the most of the open surfaces in your home. The tops of dressers, buffets, and end tables are the perfect canvas to display precious treasures, tell stories, and increase the functionality of a room.

Bedside Tables

M Lindsay PhotographyWhen choosing items to display on an end table, it’s important to consider the visual weight of the furniture. For a small, skinny, leggy table, this lamp would probably look too top heavy. Because of the strong, sturdy base in this picture above, this lamp is the perfect size and weight. It takes up almost half of the surface, which makes for a balanced look. In this arrangement, the weight of the lamp is then offset on the right side by the small mirror and tall candlesticks. The gold accents on every element here give the display unity and make the fuchsia candlesticks and greenery really pop.

M Lindsay Photography

Small accents are also a great way to give a room some unexpected moments and character. In the first display, the ram heads on the lamp created some surprise. Here, the arrangement of the lamp, wooden box, and small horse statue brings that uniqueness. That lamp alone would be too small for this bedside dresser, but the wood box platform gives it some added weight and height, and the three pieces read together as a whole from farther away. If you have a lamp you absolutely love, but it isn’t quite big enough for the surface, this is a creative way to give it more weight.

Open Shelving


Populating this many shelves with things that mean something to you takes time. Don’t rush the process. You will not be happy with the end product if you bought all the decoration from Home Goods on the same day. Instead, give yourself time to make intentional choices. Go to flea markets, find one-of-a-kind knick knacks. Find out the story behind the item so that you fill your home with history and conversation starters. Framing your favorite pictures is an easy way to give your styling meaning. Take a page from Marie Kondo’s book (and then take out the part about de-cluttering) and focus on putting things in your home that “spark joy.”

M Lindsay Photography

A note on open shelving: your home may require you use open shelving primarily as a storage option. You may look at this elegant styling and think…but where is all their stuff?? To that, I will offer the opinion that even the stuff that has to be there for functionality can still be styled into looking beautiful and clean. So if you are using your bookshelf for…books, perhaps you can color code them into a rainbow effect, shown here. Or, if you need to put your kids’ toys on the shelves, find cute bins to store them inside to prevent the shelves from looking cluttered.



If you end up with a buffet that does not stretch the entire length of the wall it’s up against, a great trick is to flag either end with decorative chairs or extra dining chairs. Another powerful trick is to place a pair of lamps on either end and decorate in the middle. Even though we see this a lot, these are not rules. But, if you are stuck and need an easy decor option, finding a great pair of lamps is a good place to start. In this image above, I love the layering of artwork and photographs. If the main subject of a painting or picture is visible, don’t worry about covering part of it.


jaziphoto_megmade-71In this basement, functionality and comfort is king. It’s a warm, soft space with carpet and floor cushions, so it shouldn’t be styled with glass and porcelain. Everything should look like it belongs in the same room.


Collections are a great thing to put on display. If you don’t collect something, it’s easy to start! You can often buy a whole grouping of vases or candlesticks on Etsy. If you find a bunch of mismatched items and want them to feel more cohesive, you can easily spray paint them the same color.


M Lindsay Photography

Pay attention to the design of the furniture. If it is boxy, made up of straight lines, putting something on top of if that breaks that pattern is a good idea. If it is a curvy piece, something more structured could work well. Don’t be afraid to mix styles, it gives a room character!

Ultimately, styling is about character. The details help complete the look of a room. What stories do you want to tell in your home? Do you want to display a collection, photographs from a recent family trip, or a flea market find you absolutely love? Great. Things that make you happy always have a place in your home. Hopefully these tips will help you figure out where.


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