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Interiors

Kelly Wearstler On How To Curate And Style The Perfect Coffee Table

A striking floral display taken from Evocative Style, Kelly Wearstler’s book of inspirational interior-design ideas

A coffee table or sideboard can provide a powerful focal point in any given space – as well as being an ideal spot to showcase statement pieces. Here, interior designer KELLY WEARSTLER shares her expertise in layering textures and playing with height to help you curate and style an eye-catching tablescape

Lifestyle
Wearstler’s Malibu beach house features highly textural vintage pieces layered with contemporary designs, evocative artworks and indoor and outdoor elements, all arranged in “harmonious composition”

Assess the balance and symmetry of your space

“A great way to start your coffee-table curation is by planning out the room’s balance and symmetry – and evaluating how well the visual weight of the elements of the room are distributed and repeated. Balance and symmetry [don’t dictate] that all pieces must be the exact same weight – asymmetry in a room can introduce visual interest and tension. For example, perhaps one coffee table in the room is square, while the other is rectangular… they will have a different voice, but opposites attract.”

Use juxtapositions to create layers

“My work is often the result of an exploration of juxtapositions: indoor and outdoor elements, contemporary and classic, raw and refined. [There’s] a sense of [placing] no boundaries or restrictions on style, without sacrificing comfort and usability. Highly textural vintage pieces layered with contemporary designs from artisans and makers can create a wonderful dialogue, as does offsetting floral patterns with strong geometric pieces. To me, luxury is about textures and sensations, but also storytelling; it is the compilation of a collection of objects, each with their own history and character, arranged in harmonious composition. Each piece has a unique and inspired narrative to tell, and it is when these narratives are nurtured within a space that it truly comes to life.”

Varying heights – combined with contrasting materials – adds a dimensional quality and textural interest
Wearstler cleverly combined clashing patterns, colors and textures when she was commissioned to decorate the lobby of the San Fransisco Proper hotel
Wearstler likes to create eye-catching spaces with ambient lighting and geometric pieces – and sculptural flowers or fruits to provide a complementary pop of color

Experiment with levels and lighting

“Lighting is everything – it completely sets the mood in a space. Whether it’s a large sculptural lamp or a delicate candleholder, it is important to consider the layering of lighting within an environment. Think about lighting as a way to guide the eye around a room, so consider placing [sources] at low, medium, and high levels – a nice mix and hierarchy creates visual interest and enhances the architecture of a space. Many light fixtures are themselves pieces of sculpture and, when placed on a coffee table, this can create a vignette of interest, illuminating your curated display and enhancing the ambience of a room.”

Play with height, texture and purpose

“Varying heights – combined with contrasting materials – adds a dimensional quality and textural interest, allowing contemporary pieces to harmonize with historical reference points. Additionally, I like to think beyond the standard uses for vases, dishes and bowls to display objects in an unconventional way – for example, filling the Kelly Wearstler ‘Acolyte’ brass bowl with an artful arrangement of seasonal florals or produce.”

At the Proper hotel, Wearstler looked to “bring something new to San Francisco by collaging a reimagining of past, present and future”
I take a lot of inspiration from the seasons, changing decor items to match the tones of different times of year

Consider selecting a conversation-starting piece

“A statement piece should never take away from other precious designs on the table – its primary purpose should serve as a conversation starter; a point of origin for the narrative of the tablescape. I also like the idea of incorporating non-traditional items into a coffee-table setting. It’s good to take a few risks and I love to keep people surprised with objects [that are] multipurpose. For instance, an amazing chess set can encourage play, but also act as an incredible centerpiece.”

Change up your curation regularly

“Just like my interiors, my coffee table is always evolving. The ‘Aria’ box is the latest addition to my coffee table – I love how it serves the dual purpose of art and storage for little treasures – or the Kelly Wearstler ‘Kiss’ [ornament] in varying colors, materials and sizes. I take a lot of inspiration from the seasons, changing decor items to match the tones of different times of year. This is a really simple and effective way to update your space.”

“A statement piece should never take away from other precious designs on the table,” says Wearstler. “Its primary purpose should serve as a conversation starter”