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On Design | Designing interiors for special effect

Eye-catching displays with layers of the right mix of old and new accessories in varying sizes and textures create picturesque tablescapes.
Eye-catching displays with layers of the right mix of old and new accessories in varying sizes and textures create picturesque tablescapes. Courtesy of Knotting Hill Interiors

Question | How can I create a picturesque and balanced arrangement of decor accents that looks like those I see in magazines?

Answer | As I write about in my book, “Secrets of Southern Design,” there are endless ways to create the “still life” arrangements known as tablescapes, and they are not limited to dining room table centerpieces as many people think.

I help my clients use numerous surfaces for tablescapes. It is my preference to design these eye-catching displays with layers of the right mix of old and new accessories in varying sizes and textures. The use of serious and whimsical stylings creates a relaxed and casual, yet refined feeling.

My design team applies a symmetrical approach when we want to achieve balance, harmony and a bit of formality. First, choose the background such as a mirror or work of art. The wall-hanging should be sized accordingly with the furniture, such as a chest of drawers, sideboard or hall table, that is placed beneath it. Second, because balanced design is that of symmetry, look for commonalities among the objects you are considering for placement on your tablescape.

A collection of items that relate to each other is more exciting and will make more of a statement than individual, unrelated pieces haphazardly arranged. You will want to incorporate the principle of rhythm, which effectively blends the elements into one cohesive presentation.

When you view a well-executed tablescape, you will see that it starts on one end with something high like a lamp or tall flower arrangement. It then tiers downward to lower accessories in the center, and finally travels back up on the other end to taller objects.

In a symmetrical arrangement, the taller anchoring objects will be the same height. If you like to keep things simple, place a medium-sized object, such as a decorative bowl or tureen, between two tall objects.

Q. | Could you offer tips how to decorate my tables in a way that is proportionate but not too matchy-matchy?

A. | It sounds like your favorite arrangement is an asymmetrical presentation. I often design asymmetrical tablescapes with a touch of informality or whimsy, which can easily prompt a conversation with your guests.

This does not mean your tablescape should avoid balance. Rather, just refrain from mirror images when selecting items for your arrangement. I recommend tabletop design with a slight sense of evenness, albeit not reliant upon echoed symmetry. In essence, this is what makes asymmetrical tablescaping even more creative and flexible. Your own sense of flair and staging dictates the way in which your create the space.

Select accessories that are reasonably dissimilar yet share some form of unification. Place a tall lamp on one side of the table and add a shorter vase or other accent on the opposite side. Hand-pick and place contrasting objects in between them. Figurines, books and urns make for well-suited options. Finish the tabletop with smaller items such as a decorative journal and dried flowers to anchor the lower portion of the vignette.

Q. | How can I design my baby’s nursery with a sophisticated and warm, cozy style?

A. | The interior design of a nursery is an opportunity to create a very special room in a home that exudes both sophistication and warmth. An approach to designing a chic but comfortable nursery involves functional elegance.

For the 2015 Atlanta Symphony Associates Decorators’ Show House & Gardens, I was honored to have been asked to design the nursery. In doing so, I wanted to supply inspiration for visitors at the show house how to design a nursery truly fit for a princess. Instead of the overly expected bright-pink theme, I decided upon a color palette of blush-pink accented with white and cream. To create a foundational backdrop, I had the walls painted a soft gray.

Serving as the nursery’s focal point, a custom-made headboard was fashioned to emulate a girl’s dress that flowed downward into a luxurious day bed. The interior included a crib with an original wrought iron frame punctuated with an antique finish and four tall posts topped with stars.

To make the room glow with a girly panache, we selected corresponding ruffled linens and coverlets for the daybed and crib. A changing table, dresser, and seating area served practical purposes for the nursery, but each was accented with harmonizing colors, textures and well-appointed accessories.

Personalizing the nursery, a Christening dress was framed and hung upon one wall, while mounted sheet music of lullabies adorned another wall. Like all rooms, nurseries deserve an unanticipated element, which in this case was a Murano-style chandelier in a matching blush hue. As with the show house’s nursery, design your own nursery in imaginative ways with luxury that is completely and exuberantly livable.

Myrtle Beach-based interior designer KIMBERLY GRIGG is the owner of Knotting Hill Interiors and specializes in designing, renovating and redecorating homes in the South and beyond. She also is author of “Secrets of Southern Design.” Visit www.knottinghillinteriors.com and www.itssofabulousblog.com. Email kimberly@knottinghillinteriors.com to submit a design question for consideration.