I love playing around with styling our buffet table. Changing out the decor seasonally and using various textures and placements for the accessories is a lot of fun. But it wasn’t always that way. At one time, it was a real challenge and, to be honest, a bit of a mystery how all those stylists on T.V. seemed to style a surface so effortlessly! That’s why today I’m sharing how to style a buffet table in 3 easy steps. It’s a formula that works for me every time – yep, that’s right – every time! And I’m spilling the beans here 🙂
The Cart Before the Horse
I’m not normally one who rants (that’s my husband’s job – lol! 😉 ). But may I rant for a moment?
One of my biggest pet peeves about most decorating advice, is that there is often little that’s useful about it. Most of it boils down to telling us that we need to ‘break all the rules’ and just ‘add variety.’
But what does that mean?
Knowing that we should vary height or texture or add pops of colour is valuable, to be sure (and it’s something I do). But how do you pull it all together so that it’s pleasing to the eye? How do you group objects? How do you prevent visual clutter on a narrow surface or, worse yet, visual monotony?
How can we break the so-called rules, when we don’t even know what they are?
Telling readers to ‘add interest,’ ‘mix accessories’ or ‘add something personal’ only makes sense once you understand the basics of design. It’s like putting the proverbial cart before the horse (or should I say, decor before design).
Back to Basics: The Rule of Three
Before you begin to style your buffet table (or any other surface in your home), there is a universal ‘rule’ of styling that is extremely valuable to know – and that’s the ‘Rule of Three.’
The ‘Rule of Three’ goes something like this: Arranging accessories in odd numbers – such as 3 – is more appealing than grouping them in even numbers. That’s because it is unexpected, visually interesting, and more memorable. For this reason, it is a basic design principle that many designers use.
While I am not a stickler for this rule (and break it often), I do find it a useful guideline that I often return to again and again.
Back to Basics: Visual Triangles
Understanding the Rule of Three helps when considering any surface in your home, including your buffet table. Here’s how:
Think of your buffet table as having a HORIZONTAL plane and VERTICAL plane. In order to decorate that space, both the horizontal and vertical planes need to be considered.
The Rule of Three is best applied in this case, therefore, by creating ‘Visual Triangles’ with your decor. In a Visual Triangle, three points are considered: one at the top to cover the vertical plane, and two along the horizontal plane of your surface, thus creating a triangle of decor.
Here is an example of 2 visual triangles on our buffet table.
When thinking of covering vertical and horizontal space on your buffet table, Visual Triangles are just about the easiest and simplest way to corral your accessories.
Let’s break it down further by showing you how I styled our buffet table in 3 easy steps.
How To Style A Buffet Table In 3 Easy Steps
First, I gathered accessories that approximated 3 different heights. One set of three were grouped together on the left and the other on the right.
Decor Selection Tips: When selecting accessories make sure to 1. have a consistent colour palette 2. vary shapes 3. vary textures. These 3 tips will ensure that there is cohesion, harmony and interest in the vignette you’re creating.
STEP 1: Add The Tallest Accessory First
Start with a clean slate.
Add the tallest accessory first to anchor that side.
STEP 2: Add the Second Tallest Item
Taking the second tallest piece, place it next to your anchor.
STEP 3: Add The Shortest Item To Complete The Triangle
Finally, add your shortest piece to complete your Visual Triangle.
I added mine on top of the box to give it more height and substance.
Let’s take a look at the process again in the GIF below (it’s as easy as 1-2-3!):
Now you are ready to balance out the look on the other side by simply repeating the 3-step process:
First, start with a clean slate (dusty mirror notwithstanding 😉 ).
Step 1: Tallest Item(s) First
Tip: How To Break The Rules. Once you understand the Rule of Three, it now becomes easier to know how to break or modify it to adjust to ‘real life’ decorating. Notice that I break from the rule of 3 by choosing two like items of similar heights (instead of just 1 tall item). By doing this, I am treating the 2 as a single item, thus creating ONE VISUAL FOOTPRINT. In this vignette, therefore, these two candlesticks will act as the anchor piece(s) of the Visual Triangle being created.
Step 2: Second Tallest Item
Step 3: Shortest Item
And here’s another GIF (for your viewing pleasure 😉 )
Styling a buffet table need not be a mystery. Use objects you love, vary things up, but remember, if you start to feel overwhelmed, use this post on how to style a buffet table as a guide. In just 3 easy steps, you’ll be styling like a pro!
Happy decorating 🙂
If you enjoyed this post, then check out more in the DECORATING 101 series below:
For the best expert tips for styling your home, check out a few of my favourite home style bloggers:
Style By Emily Henderson (vintage, boho, eclectic)
The Inspired Room (coastal, classic)
Sarah Richardson Design (traditional, fresh, feminine)
School of Decorating (contemporary, colourful)