I’ve mentioned a number of times my love for interior stylist Emily Henderson, but for those that aren’t aware of her work I wanted to bring together some of my favourite bits from her most recently published book, Styled – Secrets to Arranging Rooms, from Tabletops to Bookshelves.

From editing your room, getting rid of what you don’t love and re-purposing what you can’t live without, to creating eye catching vignettes on any surface, this book is like my bible. As an aspiring interior stylist, it’s full of so many inspiring images and ideas that make me want to scrap my house and start all over again. The kitchen chapter is totally swoon-worthy.

However, instead of a book review, I wanted to share with you eight tips to styling an amazing space, according to Emily. Lets get started with the basics…


When it comes to defining your style, there’s no need to choose…

“I’ve fallen in love with so many different styles, and luckily, I’ve learned to live with all of them like an extended family. Come over to my house and you’ll meet my crazy English grandma (a vintage floral pillow), my mid-century Danish uncle (the leather strapping sofa), my seventies Palm Springs father (a vintage brass collection), my Victorian princess sister (all of my ornate rugs), my Hollywood Regency chinoiserie-loving mother (my bedroom dresser), my classic American brother (a simple wood armoire) and my Moroccan bazaar-going stepsister (all of my crazy poufs). And that’s just my immediate family.”

Ignore your colour instincts…

“If you love colour, don’t paint your walls. It’s counter-intuitive, but here’s why: if you have a tendency to buy lots of colourful accessories and you also have colour on your walls, then your room could look like a crazy person lives there. With my colour obsession, I know I have to stick with white walls, wood, and brass finishes, or it would be too much colour and pattern everywhere. By keeping the foundation of your room quiet, you give yourself permission to layer on the chaos, and the result is graphic, lively, and colourful without being busy. If you love muted tones, however, use colour in a bigger way. Paint an accent wall or buy a large solid-coloured rug. Remember your instincts will be to shop for and to layer on objects and accessories in a “safe” colour. A bright, happy hue like peacock blue or a slightly more saturated neutral heather grey will help you avoid a beige-on-beige room. And I don’t care how colour shy you are – nobody wants to live in a beige room.”


The rule of three…

“The rule of three is no secret – it works for writing, photography, and design, and it’s a great trick for layering vignettes. Presenting information in threes makes a grouping more memorable, but you have to include variety. Trying to look at three similarly sized objects at once is too chaotic – they compete with each other. Your eye wants a bit of variety in order to decipher what’s really happening. So I’ve come up with a super-easy, you-can’t-lose rule. For every surface, add these three things – something vertical, something horizontal and something sculptural to tie the two together. For a mantel vignette, you might choose a vertical piece of art and a horizontal stack of books. Then you’ll want something that connects those two to soften the jump your eye makes from vertical to horizontal plane. So always include a bridge, an object which has more organic sculptural lines. A vase with soft peonies might work. Instead of placing three objects next to each other with the same amount of space in between them, arrange one in front of the other to create depth.”

How to hide that TV…

“Include it in your gallery wall – hang art in a similar colour palette all along the wall that holds your TV and it’s even better if you have black frames which help it blend in. Surround it with shelves – mount your TV on the wall, then bring in shelves on either side to create a focal wall. Paint of wallpaper the wall – a dark colour will camouflage the television so well that you’ll have to turn it on to find it. Hide it behind artwork – this involves some installation, but if you do it right, you can easily lift the framed piece off the TV whenever Netflix comes a-calling. Prop a pretty screen in front of it – if your TV is hanging on the wall and you have the floor space, spread out a folding screen to block it from view. Cover it with a beautiful textile – go for something vintage and handmade, like a beautiful quilt or an antique tapestry.”


Bookshelf basics…

“While the initial reaction when styling bookshelves might be to add books and other platforms to help ground a shelf collection, another (almost opposite) approach is arranging small art objects in a flat grid. It’s an easy way for the eye to read each piece. Try hanging artwork between shelving to add dimension and break up the monotony of stacks of books. Be sure to call the artwork out; a wooden chain draped over the frame and a clip lamp both work hard to highlight the piece. Cool typography prints with witty sayings, quotes or mantras will pique a guest’s interest in your bookshelf. And remember; a bunch of little things will look more organised if they are in a small colour palette. Use each shelf to feature books and accessories in one or two colours. This classic Scandinavian collection looks neat and collected in white and wood.”

Six goodies to welcome you home…

“Cheap and cheerful blooms; this is a given. It’s something we all know will make us perk up, but a luxury we tend to pass over. A plush rug; give your rug the touch test before you bring it home. The one for your entryway should feel lavish, almost like a welcome-home hug for your toes. A console; Go for storage or just surface, but either way, this piece will serve as your own personal butler (and keep you organised on your way out). A bench of two side chairs; taking your shoes off at the door will help make that fresh mopping last a little longer. But guests might overlook your cue if not for a comfy sear near a tidy pile of shoes. Artwork; express yourself and create a big first impression. Go for the quick win – something bright and happy and our mother will be impressed. A chandelier; a chic chandelier is an investment you’ll be happy you sprung for. While the installer’s at it, have him add a dimmer switch so you can create just the right energy for your mood.”


Set the bar: beyond the basics…

“A bar that’s styled and ready to go as soon as guests arrive allows you to finish up any dinner details while they help themselves to drinks. First, make sure you have plenty of liquor options for all kinds of drinkers; Vodka, gin and whiskey are the minimum requirements. Tequila, brandy, Scotch will get you bonus points. Don’t forget the fruit, soda, tools and all the appropriate glasses so they can shake and stir to their hearts content. Trays help separate tools, liquor and fruit so guests can find exactly what they need. A cocktail book gives them courage to try that new artisanal manhattan all the kids are raving about. Transferring your spirits into glass decanters makes them feel special, but be sure each one is labelled so you know what’s what. No area of your home, meanwhile, is too precious to set up a bar, even if it’s a cabinet shelf with lots of high-end art. Finally, don’t try and cram is all on the cart. With no space to stash bottles, maybe you could look at placing a wine rack on the wall next to the trolley or cart.”

Dressing up the bedroom…

“Your dresser and nightstand are two of the main surfaces in your bedroom and, if you’re anywhere near as busy as I am, they’re probably not getting the attention they deserve. Next to making your bed, organising them will bring instant style to your sleeping quarters. Your best style secret is hiding right that jewellery box. That’s right, pull out those rings and pearls and place them in bowls or on a small tray on your nightstand. Of course, a jewellery display isn’t complete without a bunch of beautiful blooms – indulge in the nicest variety at the market. Orchids always look rich. I always leave out a few of my latest reads on the nightstand. It’s a little trick that has a soothing effect and it will make you feel good about skipping brunch and staying in bed on a Saturday to catch up on me-time. Your kids dresser deserves attention too. Look around his or her bedroom for styling essentials. A simple stack of children’s books, topped with a favourite car toy, puts playtime within reach. Framed family photo strips are a sweet reminder of your love. Let your nightstand hold only your most prized possessions – a marble box for your watch and rings, a few photos from your recent travels, and a bubble vase of farmer’s market flowers. I promise that you’ll wake up in a very good mood.”


Images courtesy of Style by Emily Henderson

About Victoria

Hello! I'm Victoria, the founder of multi-award winning interior design blog, Apartment Number 4. I can't wait to share my tips and tricks on creating a beautiful place to live on a budget, regardless of whether you're living in your forever home or your home that's perfect for now.

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