This week I want to suggest something that some of you might find a little daunting. How does one "style" a dresser? It's honestly easier than you'd think. The hardest part is curating your items you find, but after that, putting it together is a breeze. Your basic concept has to start by understanding the basics of design.
Step 1: Line, shape, and space
Look at the lines and shape of the furniture and decide what sort of style it fits into. Is it a traditional piece or is it more modern? Are there intricate carvings and handles or is everything sleek and smooth? How tall is it? If it's shorter, you'll want to add height with a large mirror or art piece behind it. If it's not, adding anything tall will only take away from the statement your dresser makes.
In our piece, you can see that it's not very tall. As a result, we wanted to use an art piece that filled the space, like this one by local artist Kay Lee. However, we also needed to hide that unsightly thermostat, so placing the lamp on a stand worked well because it added height to that side and provided a beautiful new texture.
Step 2: Color, form, and texture
If you've added a mirror, you might be looking to add more color to your dresser. My favorite way to do this is with large accessories like plants, photos, or even old books. You can buy leather-bound classics in such vibrant colors these days, and you can even stack them horizontally and put something on them, like a framed photo.
You'll see that we added our ZZ plant, a Debbie favorite, as well as these beautiful accessories: we have a blue crystal bowl as well as a green and white wooden inlay box. All three - four if you include the container the plant is in - make incredible examples of these three elements.
Step 3: Contrast, emphasis, and value
Creating any of these three things is so easy with a little light. You can hang a track light near your space and aim one light there, position the dresser within a well-lit area, or very easily add a lamp or two. Even a candle can emphasize a tray of candy. You can also incorporate contrast, emphasis, and value into the art piece or mirror you chose earlier. A variety of colors in an art piece draws the eye and makes a statement.
On our dresser we added a tray with our office accessories such as a pencil holder, post-it bowl, and business cards. The candy offers such fun color and is a great pick-me-up around three o'clock. Of course, we love scented candles, so it was obvious that we'd need to add this one here. If your dresser is in your living room maybe make it a drinks station. Even your home phone and a cute notepad would be stylish and functional. If you're styling a bedroom dresser, you can accessorize the top with jewelry boxes, trays of perfume, or a little station to grab your travel makeup for mid-day touch-ups. This is where you get to pick out all of the little things that just jump out and tell people who lives here.
Step 4: Pattern, rhythm, and movement
When you start adding anything to the top of any surface, you want to be sure it strikes a balance between crowded and spartan. As always, whichever side you lean towards should be reflected in your personal style. If you're a collector like Debbie, put your beauties on display. If you prefer a minimalist look, stick to the basics. This is where you'd add framed photos, candy dishes, or other small accessories you may not have added yet. If your style is looking a little vertically challenged (maybe you chose not to add a lamp) candlesticks are an easy way to add height interest without any extra bulk in width.
We switched Debbie's ZZ plant for our Money Tree while we added other accessories like our inspirational frames and a candlestick on the right and the candy dish and Louisiana print on the left. Once we had the Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler print up, we realized we wanted a more Louisiana look, so we swapped our art for this colorful pelican by local artist Leah Morace.
Step 5: Balance and unity
It took me a long time to understand that balance is not the same as symmetry. You don't have to make the space perfectly symmetrical to achieve a sense of balance. As long as one side of your dresser doesn't overpower another, you won't feel lopsided. This is a concept people struggle with in design, but that worry is not necessary. Position your pieces in a way that offers maximum aesthetic with (seemingly) minimal effort. If a perfectly symmetrical dresser will make you step back and sigh with relief, then by all means, follow your heart.
Finally, we switched back in our ZZ plant. It had a fuller look that just complemented the design perfectly. Remember that you are not married to your styling in any way. If you put something up there and literally the next day you decide it's not what you wanted, then swap it out for something new! It's all open and you're totally free to add whatever quirky details you like.
In fact, here are a few bonus examples of beautifully styled dressers so that you can see some completely different design styles represented.
We really hope that this has helped you style your dresser or inspired you to start styling in your home. Nate Burkus said it best, "Your home should tell the story of who you are, and be a collection of what you love."