Using Trays to Style

One no-fail stylist secret is gathering things in mass on trays. It works in the living room on your coffee table, for home accessories, and even on the dining room table. It’s a universal stylist trick.  When I’m hunting flea markets and vintage shops, I’m always on the lookout for trays to add to my I prop stash. They’re just so versatile.

Trays make plating food simple and fabulous, and styling with them is a tool of the trade you’ll want to have in your repertoire. Next time you have a party to plan, look around the house for trays to repurpose. Think outside the box, and you will wow your guests.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to use trays:

For an unexpected centerpiece: Gathering guests around the table will never be a problem if you place a beautiful tray of bruschetta (or any other nibble!) in the center.

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For salad, beverages, and desserts: Try turning the tray upside down to use it as a riser on the table.

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For a beverages station: Gathering glasses for guests to help themselves always makes for a beautiful display.

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For entrees: Using a gorgeous wooden tray instead of a ceramic platter adds instant style to your table.

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Photography in order:

Deborah Whitlaw Llewelleyn

Jennifer Davick

Marte Marie Forsberg

Deborah Whitlaw Llewelleyn

Michael Graydon

 

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How to Style Bookshelves


Staring at rows of bookshelves can be daunting which I’m sure is why people are always asking me questions about styling them. Where do you put the books? Where do you put the knickknacks? How much is too much? How little is too little? Do you layer items? Organize by height? By color? A few years ago, I teamed up with Ballard Designs to break it down to 7 golden rules, and that interview still holds true today.


You can head over there for the full story, but if you just want the quick and dirty details, here are the 7 Golden Rules of Bookshelf Styling:

  1. Think about storage: a bookshelf is an awesome place to disguise items that you might need to store. Use cute, function baskets to add texture and function.
  2. Incorporate artwork: layer artwork to add depth and create interest. Small art that you pick-up from markets, travels, and antique stores are perfect.
  3. Stack books: create vignettes by using books with bindings in similar colors and styles. Stack them horizontally for some unexpected height.
  4. Add collections: bookshelves are the perfect place to showcase any collections you might have. Think an arrangement of fun jars or a bowl of seashells.
  5. Use repetition: odd numbers are you friend. Organize like items in a row (3, 5, or 7) to bring a shelf together.
  6. Think creatively: tear off book covers from flea market books and bind them together with twine for texture.
  7. Don’t forget pops of color: throw in a few colorful items that complement the other colors in the room.

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How to Style a Coffee Table like a Pro

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When I enter a home to style it for a photo-shoot, I always bring accessories for a coffee table. I have a big collection of coffee table books in my studio and tons of bits and bobs in my prop stash for this specific purpose. However, you don’t have to be a stylist to achieve a similar look. In fact, your coffee table can look just as amazing as any magazine with the right tools.

To get you thinking in the right direction, here’s a video I did with Ballard Designs that shows you how to style a coffee table. It breaks down different steps, so you can practice and style until you have the perfect set-up.

Here are a few highlights from the video:

  1. Start with what you have. There’s no need to go out and buy a ton of props. Instead, shop your own home or your own prop closet.
  2. Anchor the corners with large objects. Repeat after me: trays are my BFF. Trays are my BFF. A tray will provide a place to corral smaller objects while creating visual interest and helping you organize.
  3. Repeat shapes and colors. If you add pink flowers, add another pop of pink in a book on a different spot. If you incorporate blue, add a ginger jar, too. Repeating colors helps the eye move seamlessly around the table.
  4. Have fun! Don’t be afraid to change-up your coffee table style season to season. If you find a special object while out antiquing, or “treasure hunting” as I like to call it, add it to your coffee table vignette.

If you’d like even more help styling your home for photographs or for fun, come along on my Strictly Styling Workshop this summer in Italy! I’d love to have you.

Do you have any tried and true coffee table tips? Share them in the comments!

xx Annette

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Photography Tip:: Build a Prop Stash

First things first…when you build a prop stash, you need to make sure you shop like a stylist. Pick props that are basic as well as pick props that are unique. You should have a complete color wheel of fabrics and napkins to coordinate with plates and bowls of all sizes and colors. I keep buying white and natural napkins which I do not need! Don’t be like me! Shop for what you don’t have, and when you see napkins to add to your collection, grab them. My message here is don’t keep buying the same napkins (or props) over and over again.

The numero uno rule of being a professional stylist is to be efficient and organized. Once you start to seriously collect your prop inventory, you will find that storage is key. It’s important that everything is easy to access and most important is that you see everything displayed clearly. Pay attention to this tip! 

*(I will never forget looking into an (ex) assistant’s van and seeing everything thrown into the back and all over the backseat like it was garbage, when in fact they were gorgeous props. Message here? Be organized…even in the backseat of your van, treat every prop like it’s a treasure, because it is!)

Utilize amazing storage! Having a great place to pull from when you need accessories to style a room or to prop a recipe is key. I use metro fixtures which are available online or from The Container Store. They are sturdy and affordable. I also use vintage bakers racks. As long as you have a centralized location for your prop stash, you’re in business.

For example: here is a great collection of unique props. Store them all together, in a safe location on your shelves. Here’s another tip: use them a couple of times and then trade them with another stylist or antique dealer. I keep the ones that are so special I will never come across them again and rent them to other stylists. Having a unique vintage scale is a must, old pitchers, and a stash of vintage bake goods. Store these items together. When thinking about organizing, store like with like. In other words, I store all my galvanized props together, and plates stacked by color and size. Think like a retail store and create color stories and stories by material.

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For storing fabric: I think airtight see-through boxes are an easy solution. I stack the boxes on shelves and they are organized by color. Because I can see through the boxes I know which color napkins to pull down for a shoot. (*Remember to air them out regularly to prevent mold and mildew and wash them after every use.) A dresser will work as well for this kind of storage just make sure to colorize your napkins and tablecloths and remnants.

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Here’s how I organize my prop stash: I have shelves in my garage, and I merchandise my shelves neatly by color and material. I also purge regularly. Just like styling a photograph, it’s important to edit your props as well. I try not to use a prop more than twice, you’d be surprised how many people notice when you use the same prop over and over again. You don’t want to be that photo stylist; you’re a pro.

My prop room looks like this:

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I store all my flatware in a filing cabinet, with narrow drawers Like this one from the Container Store.

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I like to store trays and surfaces stacked in a rack and store small things in jars and vases.

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Remember you are spending lots of money on your things (even if you’re shopping flea markets… it adds up!), so take good care of your prop stash. Let me know if you have any organizational questions in the comments below, and I will be happy to answer them. Happy Shopping and Propping!

xx

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Creating the Perfect Workspace with Staples.

Staples Organization

Let’s face it: you spend lots time at your desk, so making it more functional can make all the difference in your attitude and productivity.

Organizing your work surface can create a sense of calm and accomplishment. Productivity promotes happiness and clear thinking.

Happiness and clear thinking allow you to work more efficiently, and that’s a great goal for the upcoming year.

I am going to give you some simple tips to clean up your work space and make it a great place to spend the day.

The beginning of the year is the perfect time to take a look at your desk and start making big improvements. Here are my simple tips for updating your desktop using great products from my friends at Staples:

 1. EDIT YOUR DESK: This means clean up your act by tossing objects that serve no function and take up valuable space on your desk and your work space. Just like your edit your home, your desk should be a functional and aesthetically pleasing place. Your desk is not a place for dusty knickknacks. Now is the time to purge and toss things on your desk that serve no purpose..

My rule is if it’s:

– Dusty
– Broken
– Untouched for 6 months

It’s got to go!

Once you’ve purged and edited your desk, now you have a nice clean surface to work with.

Time to decide how you use your desk.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What functions do I perform at my desk?
  2. What are my daily/monthly office duties?

Build a plan around your answers.

Make a list of items you need.

GO SHOPPING.

In making your list, your thought process should be…everything should have a place.

Most used items like pens, a stapler, and sticky notes should be within reach.

Things less frequently used can be stored under your desk or in a nearby closet or shelf.

2.CUSTOMIZE YOUR WORKSPACE: Editing your desk does not mean your desk won’t be aesthetically pleasing and personal. Staples has a beautiful selection of office products that will make your desk functional and stylish.

3.BUY ESSENTIALS: Staples has a great selection of essential office supplies. Their Less List for Business features the lowest prices on 28 essentials businesses use every day. Whether you like to shop online or in store, Staples makes it easy on you with their buy online, pick-up in store option which will have your purchase ready in store within 1 hour. Like these hanging files in green. I have hanging files for everything, invoices, receipts, and resources. You can use a drawer, bankers box, plastic file box, or this pretty wire file holder

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4.GATHER YOUR RECEIPTS IN A DOCUMENT LETTER TRAY: I have receipts in this letter tray for easy access while bookkeeping. Having receipts in one place makes it less likely to loose important documents. I also like this monthly desk pad since I like to jot down notes.

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5.WRITE IT DOWN: Staples has note pads that I love, too. As I said I love to write things down because it makes me remember what I need to do.

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6.EXTRA STORAGE/ FILE BOX: Store active and inactive folders in a bankers box. This box can also be used for printer paper and office supplies for easy storage and access. It fits right under a desk or on a shelf unit. *Note: Using a shelf in your office to store extras or keep files is a great way to de-clutter your work area.

7.SUPPLY STORAGE: Check out this office shelf. Notice you can and should use the same organizational products on your desk, on shelves or in a closet. My post-its are in this pretty wire memo holder for easy access.

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8.ORGANIZE YOUR PENS AND PENCILS : It is a must. I like to store pens and pencils in a pencil cup.

Staples Organization Staples Organization 9.A COMFORTABLE CHAIR: Once you’ve set up your work space, make sure that you have a comfortable office chair. You want be able to spend loads of time working, and a great office chair can make all the difference. It’s a wise investment. Staples has a great selection.

Staples Organization Staples Organization 10.TECHNOLOGY MAKES EVERYTHING MORE PRODUCTIVE: Staples has an amazing array of technology to choose from and a helpful staff.I can’t do without my Epson printer.

January is the time to get your work space in order. Remember to edit edit edit, and buy functional items from Staples to keep you organized all year long. Happy New Year and happy organizing.

This is a sponsored post all opinions expressed are my own.

Photo Credit : me

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