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Heather Scott Home & Design is an award-winning interior design firm and sophisticated boutique based in Austin, TX and Scottsdale, AZ. Our blog shares the tasteful home accessories, furnishings and gifts that you can find in our retail boutique. We also feature our design projects, industry trends and expert tips that hope to inspire homeowners to create the stylish & chic home of their dreams.

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5 Steps Closer to Being a Styling Pro
February 20, 2015 in Uncategorized | no comments

One of our team members, Sarah, and I have been spending a lot of time together recently.  Including this past Sunday, when we ran the Austin Half Marathon.  Sarah did amazing.  It was her first 1/2 marathon and she was an absolute star!  She does not even look tired in this picture, does she?

sarah and heather at end

Several of our team members were there to support us during the run, which made it even better.  You can see how excited we were to see familiar faces along the route!

sarah and heather at half marthon

In addition to the run, Sarah has helped me on two photo-shoots over the past two weeks for recent projects we completed.  She has a really good eye for the camera and for styling. 

Since she is so good at styling, I asked her to write a blog with some styling tips for other designers (for shooting professional photos) and also for homeowners, who often struggle with how to complete the ‘finishing touches’ for their home.

Here are Sarah’s tips for styling like a pro:


Even with the nicest furniture in your home, the best way to polish off a great look is by adding the right finishing touches! Accessories make the difference, if executed correctly. Over the past few weeks, I have been lucky enough to shadow some amazing photographers and stylists. Through their keen eye, a normal room becomes a showcase.

Here is a list of the top five points I gathered when it comes to accessorizing. This list can make the difference in making your home standout:

Tip #1: Use Odd Numbers

When accessorizing, remember to try to aim for the rule of three. An odd number of items tend to create a triangle effect resulting in better eye movement.

In this photo, on the cocktail table we have a set of 3 books, a set of 3 candle sticks, and, on the tray, one vase with two sculpture objects (creating our set of three).

group of 3

Tip #2: Vary Heights of Objects

Accessories are much more interesting to look at when they are different heights. If not, they tend to be overlooked and become boring. This is one of the easiest tips to achieve!

Flowers are great centerpieces to start with. Depending on the vase height, they make great statement pieces. If you have flowers that are not tall, another trick is stacking a group of books and placing the vase on top of the books.

Once you get your main height, make sure to vary the other accessory heights, too. Throwing in a picture frame that is lower in height is a nice personal touch that is visually pleasing.

vary heights

Tip #3: Use Elements with Different Textures

Another tip is to make sure not all the accessories have the same texture, shape or size. For example, if all of your accessories are round, throw in a piece with corners. Or, if you have all lusterless items, adding a shiny accessory would be a good fit.

Our retail boutique has plenty of little accessories that are just the perfect touch to achieve this look, ranging from silver wired balls to adorable silver turtles!  And, not only does this little styling vignette tick the box for texture, the use of pinks throughout rolls us into tip #4, using color to tell a story…

use texture in styling

Tip #4: Tell A Color Story

This styling tip is a fun one! Pick either a pop of color you love, or pick a color that complements the rest of your room’s color theme. For example, if you have a lot of orange in your home, picking a contrast navy color really adds interest. Or, if you have a room with mostly neutrals, pick out what you would like your accent color to be.

Both designers and stylists recommend trying to carry a color throughout your house to create flow. A really easy way to add color is using flower arrangements, throw pillows, candles, or even a colorful throw! Such an easy addition really makes your accessory grouping “pop!”

For our photo-shoots, we will often use a Lafco candle.  The blown glass holders are beautiful on their own and come in so many perfect colors!

add color with candles

Tip #5:  Keep it Clean and Serene

Never go overboard with accessories. Try to keep in mind “less is more,” and your displays will have a bigger impact.  Practical elements, such as lamps and clocks can function as your ‘styling elements’.  Styling doesn’t have to be something that is only done for the camera!

vary textureskeep it simple, flower

Find the accessories that speak to you! This will achieve a cleaner, calmer feel to your room.

In summary, successful styling does not have to be intimidating.  If you follow these five easy tips as a guideline, you can really make your home stand out. So, do not be afraid to start!  Dive in and try a variety of items that will provide options of what looks good together.  If you are not sure about your vignette, either pretend you are taking a photo, or actually take a picture, to see how the space ‘really’ looks.

One caveat before I leave you thinking all styling is so easy you’ll have it done in moments; that is not the case.  Successful styling for photographic purposes does require a serious commitment to attention to detail.  styling a kitchen

When you see professional pictures of fabulous homes, let me tell you, it takes time to  make sure everything works together. I’m talking about an hour of styling before getting the perfect shot. Stylists and photographers jobs range from making sure accessory placement looks natural to obsessing over folding towels and steaming out bed sheet wrinkles!

styling a bedroom

There are so many tiny details they account for, but in the end it really is a process of testing and eliminating until they find the perfect mix of what works together.

So, do not forget the finishing touches for your home or photo-shoot.  Plan for the spaces that need accessorizing and focus on the number of objects, the color and texture, the heights of the products and finally, edit, edit, edit.  Follow these tips and you will be a styling pro in no time!