How to Style a Dresser

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The dresser plays a key role in the design of a bedroom. Not only is it a functional piece that can hide away clutter, but it is also a fun opportunity to style your space and give it a personal touch. With our current set-up, it is the first thing I see when I wake up most mornings, so I love having it decorated with my favorite items.

Since we have moved, I’ve played around with about a hundred different ways of styling our dresser. As I’ve been experimenting, I realized there are a few key rules I follow for myself when styling that makes decorating easier and fun. Knowing a few design rules is helpful in easing potential frustration when styling doesn’t go exactly to plan. Today I thought I would share a few simple guidelines that I like to follow when decorating - I used just a few items from our home to create multiple looks, so use what you already have and experiment!

This post is a collaboration with Joybird, one of my favorite companies! They were so kind to send us this Colette Dresser for our new space, and I couldn’t be happier with how it looks in our bedroom. It’s classic, mid-century modern design with modern touches. I think my favorite detail is the brass knobs - I love how they are flush with the drawer and so minimal. This dresser is definitely one of those pieces that we will keep for forever in our home.

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How to Style a Dresser

There are three elements I tend to use in styling almost any surface. Gather some options for these three categories to get started.


Gather

Anchor → Find a larger piece to create a focal point and anchor the dresser. This can be a mirror, artwork, a tapestry, or even a window. Just keep your anchor piece no wider than the dresser itself. This piece can be centered, placed to the side, leaned against the wall, or hung at eye height.

Greenery → My rule: always have a plant! But a vase of flowers or stems cut from a yard works beautifully too!

Decorative Element → For me, this is a functional piece that is also beautiful. A storage tray or basket, lamp, alarm clock, candle, book, etc. If you have a collection of globes, tins, or a favorite decorative piece, use it!

Once you have your three design elements to work with, experiment with styling and keep the following design concepts in mind.


Design

The Power of Three

I love to utilize odd numbers when styling a space. Groups of three are particularly visually appealing, and when arranged correctly they can provide interest and balance. Groups of three can be large or small depending on the collection of items used.

A group of three placed on the outer third for asymmetry

A group of three placed on the outer third for asymmetry

I also like to keep the Rule of Thirds in mind - if you’ve taken an art class, you’ve probably heard of it. The concept applies in home design too! Divide your dresser surface into three equal parts and experiment with placing your anchor piece, a vignette, or anything that you would like to be the focal point on one of these lines to create interest.

Here I wanted the focal point to be the plant, so I placed it on a “third” line

Here I wanted the focal point to be the plant, so I placed it on a “third” line

I also like to keep a triangle or “A” shape in mind and create as many as possible when styling an area. This helps to facilitate groups of three and works particularly well if you can combine it with the Rule of Thirds and place items on each third to add even more interest.

How many triangles can you spot?

How many triangles can you spot?

Play with Heights + Shapes

I also love to style by playing with different heights and shapes. Having several items of similar shape and size can make the eye feel stagnate, so evaluate if swapping out a few pieces could create more dynamic. I tend to only mix pieces that are different heights and contrasting shapes. Often I would group “like” items together and wonder why they never flowed well - typically they were all too similar to each other to create interest. Always go with contrast in height and shapes when you can!

Use books or other pieces to elevate items so they are not the same height as others

Use books or other pieces to elevate items so they are not the same height as others

Proportion

I always like to keep this in mind when designing any space in our home. I gravitate towards using just a few, big pieces to fill up a space, rather than many small items. Having a larger surface area with just a few key items creates a bold design statement - don’t feel like you need to cover a larger surface area with several small objects. Keep the entire square footage of the space in mind, and fill up the room with as few larger pieces as possible.

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I am no interior designer, this is just how I like to approach things and I hope it inspired you in some way! There are so many different ways to style a home, sometimes it’s best to just throw everything out the window and try something new and unique.

If you use any of these tips, please don’t hesitate to send me a DM or tag me on Instagram, I would love to see your space!

 
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