Surface Styling 101 – Tips for Decorating All the Surfaces in Your Home

Surface styling is key in creating a homey, lived-in look! From your coffee table to your nightstand, it’s those final touches that turn a room into an Instagram-worthy interior. But surprisingly enough, it’s these small decorative moments that can be the trickiest things to master.

To help demystify the surface styling process, we’re cracking open our Modsy designers’ playbook and giving you the inside scoop on our best decor ideas.

Ready to give your surfaces the style treatment they deserve? Read on for our best surface decor ideas!

decor ideas

1. Nightstand

Function is the number one rule to keep in mind when styling your nightstands.

Start with a table lamp – the main event – and then layer on your accessories. Consider a bedside clock (a great alternative to smartphones) alongside other smaller accents like candles, a small plant, vases, and framed photos.

decor ideas2. Dresser

When it comes to decor ideas for your dresser, always start with taller pieces on the outside edges of the dresser. A collection of vases in varying heights, potted plants, or table lamps are great options here.

One you have these “bookends” established, layer in your smaller accent pieces alongside the larger decorative accessories – books, a jewelry box, or candles are all great options!

As far as crowning your dresser, if you need a mirror the place above your dresser is the perfect place. If not, a piece of art you love makes a great focal point.

decor ideas3. Pillows

Pillows are a great way to highlight a sofa, accent chair, or bed and introduce different colors, patterns and textures into your space. Layer your sofa with pillows to create dimension in your room and make your sofa look extra cozy for lounging!

Bonus idea – pillows can be an inexpensive way to change up your decor from season to season. When you get tired of the ones you have, swap in some new ones to totally mix up your look.

decor ideas4. Coffee Table

Books, candles and small decorative objects are the perfect decor ideas for dressing up an empty coffee table.

Keep scale in mind when choosing your accessories. Pieces that are too small will feel insubstantial and make your coffee table seem scattered. Accents that are too large will overwhelm the table and can make your space feel cluttered.

decor ideas5. Fireplace Mantel

If you have a fireplace, odd are it’s the focal point of your living room. This is a great opportunity to make your space shine!

Keep it simple with one large art piece or a mirror, or spice it up with an odd number of decor pieces on each end for a balanced look.

decor ideas6. Bookcase

Built-ins and bookcases don’t have to be packed to the brim with stuff! Styling each shelf with 2-3 decor pieces will help bring the room to life, without adding clutter.

Depending on how wide your shelves are, follow the 3-5 piece rule. The key is to group an odd amount of pieces together and switch up placement on each shelf. Be wary of too much symmetry, which can be distracting and often feel sterile.

Adding smaller pieces of artwork, books, and greenery are an easy way to fill up space and create that amazing, layered look.

decor ideas7. Credenza

Similar to mantels, a grouping of an odd number amount of decor on each end of a credenza or in the middle helps create a balanced look. The trick is to incorporate pieces of varying heights and shapes to keep the look visually interesting.

Credenzas are a great place to hang a large mirror, a statement artwork, or even create a gallery wall moment. Think about topping your credenza with bowls, vases, candles, greenery, books, and mini sculptures.

decor ideas8. Dining Table

No matter the size, all dining tables need some decor love! Consider one statement item, an odd grouping of smaller decorative pieces, or a few candles as quick and easy ways to complete the look.

Some of our favorite centerpiece ideas include bowls, candles and candle holders, vases, and flowers and greens!

Ready to see some 3D decor ideas in your room?


1 Bookcase 3 Ways – Tips for Styling this Storage Essential

bookcase styling

Picture this – you decide to design your living room and all your furniture has finally arrived. You get it set up just how you want it and are ready to congratulate yourself (or take a well-deserved nap on your new sofa), when you realize something is missing – all of your decor!

From your coffee table, to your bookcases, finding the right decorative pieces to fill up the empty surfaces in your new room can be a challenge. To help, our designers are sharing their best styling tips for every surface in your home. Today, we’re dishing our best tips for filling up your bookcase.

Read on for some new bookcase styling ideas and shop the looks in our bookcase styling studio!

bookcase stylingClean and Contemporary

If you need a bookcase that balances style with function, this approach might be your perfect solution.

Start with the essentials and use your bookcase as a main hub for books, baskets, and little places to stash odds and ends. This gives you a nice mix of open and enclosed shelving, so you won’t have to stress about keeping your bookcase neat and tidy 24/7. Be sure not to overstuff your shelves with items, as that can make your bookcase feel more cluttered than curated.

Then, sprinkle in a few decorative accents like a few succulents, some small art pieces, or a few unique decorative objects for that final polish.

Love this bookcase?

bookcase styling

Minimal and Modern

If you’re looking for a bookcase styling idea that embraces form alongside function, then this might be the perfect look.

With a modern and minimal design, your bookcase will be decorative but never crowded. This pared-down approach means treating your bookcase more as a vehicle for displaying a few well-curated artworks and objects. Of course you can still use it to house, you know, books, but consider a smaller number of carefully chosen volumes.

Bonus tip: Try placing large and bulkier items on the bottom shelves so that the eye is drawn up, up, up! This will help create balance and direct attention to your more delicate and striking items on the top.

Want this look for your bookcase?

bookcase styling

Artful and Eclectic

If you are a design rule-breaker, try dabbling in a more eclectic bookcase styling option. Play with mixing up unique items to make a statement, such as bowls, vases, or your favorite decorative objects. This look is all about making unexpected design choices, so don’t be afraid to think outside the box and display a few pieces that you wouldn’t traditionally think to put on a bookcase!

Eclectic doesn’t mean sloppy or random, so be sure to keep your bookcase design feeling balanced. A great way to do this is to pick a theme or color palette that will help guide your approach to styling and ensure the results feel cohesive.

Another great tip is to choose items of different heights and shapes and stagger them along your shelves. This will keep your bookcase from feeling too matchy-matchy and create a lovely layered effect.

Make this bookcase yours!

Need help finding the right bookcase styling ideas for your space?

From finding a layout to picking furniture, Modsy Designers are experts at helping you bring your design vision to life. No matter if you just want to see it in 3D or need help from start to finish, there’s a Modsy Design Package that’s just right for you. Start a project today and bring the room of your dreams to life.