Welcome back to Part Three of “A Beginner’s Guide to Decorating with Blue & White” (you can read Part One here and Part Two here). Today we are looking at styling a side table. I think side tables are great spots to show off small collections, or in my case, a good opportunity to display pieces that might not otherwise have a home. After styling my mantel (which I will show you soon, I promise) I found I still had a few pieces of blue & white that just didn’t fit anywhere else. A large pitcher, a tiny ginger jar, and a petite tea cup and saucer set. These pieces are all darling and I like them very much, but wasn’t sure where to display them. Then my eye fell upon this tea cart and inspiration struck! With a bit of reorganization this would be a perfect spot – and tie in nicely with the adjacent mantel.
When beginning to style a side table, step one is to gather all the items that you hope to use. Although you may still go on the hunt later for a specific item, having everything gathered will help you make a plan. Also, it might reveal a theme you didn’t see before, like here, I realized I had several pitchers that actually work quite well when grouped together (who knew!). Speaking of a plan, I like to start in the back and work my way forward. Just like getting in position for a class photo at school, this means the tallest items stand at the back. For this scene, that includes a tall vase and a couple of tall pitchers. To accentuate the stairway behind it, I also wanted this vignette to “step down” visually. To achieve this, I placed a few magnolia branches in a vase on the far right for my highest height, then I gradually worked my way down to the left. At first I placed the glass pitcher and the blue & white pitcher together but then I decided they weren’t quite right sitting side by side. A small antique ice bucket turned planter gives a nice visual “break” to the line of pitchers and completes the back row.
For the front row, I decided to split the table in half and work on each side individually. There is a rule in decorating and floral design that groupings tend to visually look best when you work in odd numbers… 3, 5, 7, etc… I applied this idea to the right side by placing the small white pitcher in front of the tall white urn and blue & white pitcher. It created a trio which rounds out this right hand side of the table. Personally, I like a layered look and felt I was missing it with the pitcher just sitting on the table, so I placed a small silver tray under the pitcher and it immediately tied it all together. It also made a nice catch spot for a couple of smaller treasurers, a painted porcelain tortoise shell and of course my Union Jack hearts (click here for a tutorial on how to make your own!).
Moving over to the left hand side of the table, I turned to one of my favorite techniques for adding height to a tabletop – books! A small stack of red books allows me to get the exact height that I desire while adding a nice pop of color to the scene as well. The antique willow ware tea cup and saucers now have a lovely perch to rest upon. A random antique door knob adds a dash of whimsy helping the table to not feel too serious.
I also recommend keeping to a consistent color scheme when planning a design like this. Here I’ve kept it to blue & white (of course!) with accents of red and silver. This helps it to be cozy but not visually overwhelming.
And there you have it! A pretty side table that brings together a few of my favorite things. Here’s a recap of points to keep in mind when planning your side table in a style similar to mine:
#1 – Gather all the items you think you will use – keep an eye out to see if an unexpected collection presents itself (like pitchers did in my case).
#2 – Place tallest items in the back, remember you can add height with branches, flowers, and books.
#3 – Work front to back and then side to side.
#4 – If you aren’t going for symmetry, then make groupings with odd numbers for biggest impact.
#5 – Try to stick with a color scheme and not bring in too many colors unless you are doing so on purpose.
Oh before I close, here’s this week’s menu, I am sorry for sharing it late. We’ve had a huge snow storm here and my little one is fighting a cold (with fevers) so I’ve gotten a little behind on posting – but here you are. Bon Appetit! 🙂
I hope you are enjoying this little decorating series – there’s more to come. And if you’ve been hit by this recent snow storm, I hope you are staying safe and warm – and perhaps taking this opportunity to decorate a side table!
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