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Coffee tables offer ample space for books, flowers, and decorative pieces, but things can quickly sprawl into a mess if you don't get it right. One trick is to use trays like these lacquer versions to corral like items—such as ceramics and pillar candles—into groupings. Try clustering candles in different sizes and colors in one tray, and bowls or vases in another. Finally, jazz up a stack of books by topping it with a vessel filled with found objects.
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Shelves crammed end to end with books usually look cluttered. "I think a bookcase can be both utilitarian and artful," explains designer John Loecke. He recommends taking everything out and trying different groupings on each shelf. Place most titles upright in clusters to save space. Stack larger ones horizontally so they can act as pedestals for displaying items. Incorporate interesting boxes, vases, paperweights, framed photos, and cool bookends to add style and flair.
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The table in your foyer is the first thing you see when you walk into the house, so it should be as appealing as possible. Start with a large painting or an oversize mirror hung low to anchor the space. Add a lamp to light the way and a pretty platter or tray to catch mail, coins, and keys. A couple of items, like a metal monogram in the first letter of your last name, can be a fun way to make a personal statement.
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Fill the relatively small space on a side table in the living room with a few well-chosen pieces, using a unique and colorful lamp as a sculptural base. Assemble a variety of accessories for visual interest. Here Loecke casually pulled together a threesome of round paperweights, a rectangular box, and a glass pitcher to hold flowers.
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All Dressed Up
Turn the top of your bedroom dresser into a focal point. A favorite plate can contain disparate objects—perfume bottles, necklaces, attractive jars—while the long, thin neck of a vase is a clever perch for bracelets. An eye-catching box offers sleek hidden storage for costume jewelry. One or two framed photos and a bunch of flowers, along with art hanging on the wall above, further enhance the composition.
Originally published in the January 2011 issue of Family Circle magazine.