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It's the Layering I love

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It's the Layering I love

A customer ( a very creative one at that) said this to me this week as she was browsing in store...

It's nice to be reminded of the way I style and merchandise the store as I can often take it for granted. What I do and how I do it (the faffing) becomes so routine I often forget I even do it.

It's also easy to forget that this way of combining objects and styling doesn't come so naturally to everyone, so today I thought I'd reflect and share a little with you.

Layering going on in store.

Layering - what am I talking about? Well you are probably already doing this to some extent, but take it to the next level and it has the ability to transform. It's about creating interest, an aesthetic that excites the eye and the imagination.

I often bang on about layering textures for visual impact but this time I'm talking more about the whole picture - not just a sofa. However breaking your room down into zones will make layering easier for you, and the little 'pockets' you create will tie together if use small 'hooks' to make things cohesive.

My rules:

Zone It

OK, so a living room for example could consist of the following zones:

Coffee table in the middle of a room

Sofa against (slightly - remember! ) a wall

Fireplace and hearth

Window and sill

Shelf / sideboard

Once you've got your zones, think about these things:

Include a backdrop

So for the coffee table, I'd say the obvious is a good rug

Sofa- think outside the box here, a nice bit of art hung off centre with the sofa, a printed wall hanging maybe (great to add visual warmth) and of course a mirror always does the trick

On your fireplace, your back drop works slightly differently as your fireplace kind of IS your back drop. SO think about resting/ or propping an oversized artwork on your mantel. If your fireplace or wood burner is a new installation you are choosing, consider the tactile nature of what you surround it with- stone, raw brick, marble? The possibilities are endless but natural textures will never stop giving.

On a shelf or sideboard prop up a piece of artwork or an old photograph in a vintage frame to base your fore ward layers around.

Work with orientations

When you're dressing, proportions are key. Always include horizontal elements offset with vertical pieces.

Fireplaces and window sills are usually the easiest - go for tall candle sticks sat on top of horizontal books and next to squat vases.


If you fancy filling your full space (like we reckon is best, more is more right?!?), continue this system along the length of your top. Vary the height - but not too routinely, and consider colour and tone - this should balance too.

If you have a super tall candlestick make sure your horizontal elements are wide enough to look like they wouldn't topple over if they were balance weights ;)

Coffee table - books, pile them high and lay some alone, vary the orientation of the cover page and always have the spines facing outwards - they are often works of art themselves. Add a candle and small vase to finish the set. If you collate your small items on a tray or plate it will bring the whole look together.

Sofa - a standard lamp and a side table will easily nail your sofa zone. Make sure your side table is either above or below the height of the seat of your sofa to avoid clashing lines. Bring in your standard lamp so it sits nicely within the frame of your 'zone', overlapping it with your back drop just enough.

ZONE WITHIN A  ZONE - Add the other elements were talking about here to the top of your side table to nail another zone and up the anti with the visual intrigue.

Drapes & Unstyled Textures Are a Must

On your sofa add an abundance of throws, linens, wools, fur and cottons. Imperfect elements will soften the look, make the place look and feel more inviting and give the eyes a little workout. When things are too perfect our brains acknowledge this and give up looking before we even get properly started- so add a bit of intrigue with some unexpected ease.

Not so easy is bringing in this element to narrow top spaces like sills and mantels; this is where greenery becomes your friend. Go for loops of lengthy eucalyptus or stems of meadowy fauxs - the more natural in form the better. We're breaking neat boundaries here so don't be afraid, your zone NEEDS this element, trust us. Green need'nt always go in a vase either, lay it horizontal for more of a space filler, overlapping slightly with mirror and glass can give the most unusual depth.

Once you feel happy with your zones, look about for gaps. Big empty floor spaces can be easily filled with log baskets, large vases and unusual finds that can also make great doorstops. Remember to look beyond eye level to make the whole space interesting, go high and low for super layered up spaces to dream of.

In short -

Add something in the background, something in the foreground, something vertical and something horizontal. Add softness, vary heights and consider colour combinations. Forget symmetry (in fact I often adopt asymmetry) and plonking things in the middle and in no time your pad will be uber-layered up cool!

Happy Sunday!