The 10 Styling Commandments - Part I

The 10 Styling Commandments - Part I

This new blog will cover how to style rooms and create popular “moments” like the coffee table and shelfie.

Before we dive in space by space, I will lay some ground rules you can start memorising that will make styling and shopping for your items all the easier.

These is part one of my 10 tried and true lessons from over seventeen years working in high-end interior design (and making plenty of mistakes along the way).

If styling a coffee table doesn't fit into your endless to-do list between the laundry and not forgetting one of the children at an after-school activity...let's start with my easiest styling tip.



Any household items you buy - please, take them out of their ugly plastic containers immediately and decant them into beautiful glassware.

Buy dispensers for hand and dish soap and shower gel that match the style of your home and rooms and immediately elevate those daily activities.

This will also allow you to buy refill products which is more sustainable than always buying the one-use plastics.

This can also apply to food storage - buy large glass jars for grains, pasta, cereal, granola, spice jars, and bottles for olive oil and vinegar if the ones you buy aren't pretty enough to grace your counter.

The same applies for salt and pepper, let them live on the counter or dining table where they're actually used.



There's a reason this is the most popular and common styling adage. It stems from the golden ratio, and essentially from patterns found in nature we are drawn to by human nature.

So what exactly is the rule of thirds?

It can help dictate the number of objects - usually groupings of 3 or 5 are recommended.

Items can also be standalone, of course, if you play with the next shelf having 2 items, and the following 3, so that you’re always making the shape of triangle with your objects if the number isn’t exactly 3.

The easiest way to “make a triangle” of your objects is to group together objects of differing heights, usually each about ⅔ taller than the next - this is approximately the golden ratio (1.618).

Of course, this doesn’t have to be exact, somewhere between ⅓ and ⅔ difference between each object is a solid rule of thumb.

You can probably even go around your house and rearrange objects based on this, without having to buy anything new.

Note: Scale also matters - 3 objects that are tiny even if they’re proportional to each other won’t work at the edge of a kitchen island or on a long console table in a stately hallway.

When in doubt, go bigger and check dimensions before you buy!



Styling elements (including art) are often considered only after a room is fully furnished and painted.

If you have items of strong sentimental value, consider using them as a jumping off point for a room’s design so you don’t have to shoehorn them in after the fact.

The third most important commandment of styling is sticking to a colour palette that matches or complements the space around it.

For this very reason, neutral styling objects like the ones we stock at Dwell are incredibly versatile and won’t threaten the balance of a room. (Shop Eilish's Edit here and discover some of our favourite neutrals)

That being said, you should not necessarily always shy away from colour.

Look at any accents of colour in your existing space that maybe stand out too much or look out of place and “anchor” them by referencing that hint of red in a piece of art with a small decorative red bowl on a shelf and an assortment of fresh flowers featuring red buds. This makes it all look like it belongs and was done on purpose, without being too matchy-matchy.

Go room by room and establish the main colours - from the floor to the walls to the strongest pieces of furniture and even what you can see out the window.



All this talk of styling may have you rubbing your hands together in delight and eager anticipation of all the online shopping you are about to do (and hide from your significant other!)

Before you pull out your credit card, let’s make sure we review a little lesson in restraint - and the importance of negative space to make your styling stand out - and not become clutter.

If we styled every surface available to us, put art on every wall, our homes would suffocate. 

When you enter a room there should be a gradual introduction of the visual elements, so not everything hits you at once.

There is a hierarchy of needs for the items in a room. If certain architectural features and existing pieces of furniture are calling attention to themselves, you need to follow this cue. 

Create balance in a room with enough empty space around these focus points, and let the eye rest on some objects with interesting but unobtrusive decor as it makes its way to the next focal point (often a window or light feature).



Just like every room has a colour palette, it will also have certain textures and materials already in use.

Look at the largest swathes of space in the room and what covers them.

Is it timber, tile, wallpaper, painted plaster, glass, metal, velvet, linen?

Is the paint finish glossy or matte, are the fabrics imperfect and raw or neatly trimmed and hemmed?

Whatever tone has been set by the materials in use, speak the same language (or a complementary one) with your styling.

In fact, if you have made some more neutral choices with the larger features in a room, you can take some more risks with styling and smaller objects and establish a new direction for your room.

If you are struggling to determine the kind of materials that makes sense for a particular style, look at Pinterest with keywords for the room and style it’s in and pay attention to the finishes of the objects in those rooms.


I hope these first five commandments have filled you with immediate inspiration to style your home.

Stay tuned for Part Two via our newsletter, Eilish's Edit, or follow along on Instagram @eilishrickardinteriors

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