Skip to main content
Advice for DesignersAdvice for HomeownersDecorating Advicetablescapes

Styling Part 2: Help, my accessories look like clutter!

The most common push back I hear to my love of styling is that accessories look like clutter. Well they certainly can. There is an art to styling that takes a few key insights and some practice!

Decorating with Pink | Office Design | Decorating with Pink & Blue | School Desk Styling & Organization | Office Artwork

See why we called this room the most beautiful room in the world for 6 months (it’s the befores)

This week’s Colour Rescue is Part 2 of last week’s tour of my accessory hideaway (aka garage). But this time I’m walking you through the basics of styling.

Blue and white coffee tablescape

See all the before and afters of this makeover here

Just this week I received the question “My husband thinks our accessories look cluttered how can I make them look better?”

I’m here to tell you that NO ONE ever has enough lamps or coffee table books.

The simple reason your accessories look like clutter

If you think your tables or bookshelves just look like clutter, you are missing books. And not just any book, coffee table books, I will say it again. 


This week I’m teaching you how to create a tablescape and how to create the best looking fruit bowl in your kitchen as well (as I’m demonstrating above)!

Styling Secrets: How to Create a Vignette

Learn more about creating and decorating your dream home

All throughout my two day workshops, you will discover not only how to choose the right finishes for your renovations and new builds but THE most important part – how to take what you have now and make it look better!

We spend too much time in our homes and my mission in life is to help you love the home you’re in, no matter what it looks like.  

So go shopping, even in thrift stores for coffee table books in the colours of your decor. You will be amazed at how just arranging your coffee table or sideboard in your dining room will TRANSFORM the feeling immediately.

Go here to watch the replay! You’ll see what both my apartments looked like before I ever became a decorator.

Related posts:

How to Style a Vignette in 5 Easy Steps

How to Create a Vignette or Tablescape

Looking for post-holiday styling inspo? It’s here in 7 before & afters

11 pins


  • Leslie Morrison says:

    This was really helpful! I love the triangle concept. Would you consider a post on styling bookcases? Especially built-in bookcases? I have them flagging a double window on 3 sides and have been trying to lighten them up! Also would love one on how to figure out whether to use a flush-mount, semi-flush mount, or pendant light fixture over coffee and dining tables. Especially when the sight lines go to a window or a French Door.

  • Shana says:

    Love these super helpful styling videos! Please do one on bookcases! I have three bookcases flanking my fireplace and can’t seem to get them all styled right. And to get really specific, should I leave the adjustable shelves all even or how do I raise or lower some of the shelves without it looking really cluttered?

  • Gloria says:

    Maria, that was very helpful and a great example of repeating colors. I’d love to see you do a video on throw pillows – I used to buy them from Pier 1 but since they’ve closed….. if you want to look at custom fabric, where do you go? Are there online sources? I’ve gotten lots of samples from Sunbrella but what about other types of fabrics like you’d see in a furniture store, for example? Thanks!

  • Lisa says:

    Interested in a tutorial in adding wall art in bathroom, and overall styling of the bathroom. 😀

  • Bette says:

    I have a basic form-over-function problem with accessories. I think I agree with the person who said it’s all just clutter. I look at the primary function of a piece — for example, a coffee table where I want to put the books I’m reading and a cup of tea, now covered with a beautiful vignette that gets in the way of the table’s function — or curtains intended to provide privacy that require climbing on furniture to actually open and close.

    • Maria Killam says:

      If you need to climb on furniture to close your curtains, you need fling rods. And at the minimum 2 coffee table books with a candle and a vase with a flower makes a big difference to having absolutely nothing on the table. Hope that helps! Maria

  • Cate says:

    Thank you for these lovely guides for creating vignettes. I love the interplay with your sister, too.

  • Roni says:

    Maria this post this morning included a link about getting a Free guide to updating your kitchen which when clicked on say this link is no longer available and takes one to the list of your more recent posts. Wondering if that Free guide is still available or if not perhaps it should be taken off post? Loved your zoom seminar yesterday…very helpful

  • angela mackay says:

    can you help with how do we display those wooden beads with tassle at end
    i have a black one and love it but keep moving it around and cant quite figure it out
    love the idea on a book but looks dumb when i do it ?

  • Bonita O'Neill says:

    That was a very helpful, video. Great ideas. Maria, could you do arranging houseplants with tchotchkes?

  • Jessica Shurts says:

    I would love for you to do a session on lamps and what size/ height lamps should be in different uses around living spaces.
    I see cute lamps all the time, but have no idea if they are the correct size until I get them home. Very much trial and error, there have to be some guidelines to get the correct size.

  • Lorri says:

    I’d love to see a photo of the coffee table the reader’s husband thinks is cluttered.

    Maybe there are lessons to be learned.

  • Debbie Fulton says:

    Loved your video. I would like to see a video on styling a fireplace mantel. Thanks

  • Tamara says:

    I second the bookcase idea!

  • Beth says:

    I’d like more of the same, or similar. And an e-book with 50 million examples — photos of before/afters, plus a photo with the items numbered and an explanation of why you did what. You’re welcome. Thank you!

  • Katherine Burnett says:

    Would love a video about decorating a fireplace mantel

  • Kate says:

    – How do you know when enough is enough? I would have stopped sooner (with fewer things in my vignette), but you kept going.
    – How many vignettes in a space?
    – How do do vignettes on small-medium sized surfaces that include lamps?

    • Maria Killam says:

      If you have a very small table, maybe you only have one elevated object on it or nothing. But generally larger tables all need some kind of vignette for a feeling to descent upon your room. Try it, you can always remove things like when you have too many accessories on your body! Maria

  • Kirsten says:

    Very nice! Keep them coming.

  • Christy says:

    Thank you! I enjoyed this video. Do you just by books for the color, regardless of what the book is about?

    • Maria Killam says:

      No. But if it’s about Iceland for example, I’m okay with that even if I wasn’t looking for a book about Iceland! Maria

  • Fiona says:

    I don’t always love using books for this purpose. I found some thick, rectangular pieces of stone and marble that I use to elevate my knick knacks and I love that they are heavy, so they stay in place really well.

    My roommate has a tendency to put way too many teeny little items in a vignette. I am trying to move her towards fewer, larger items of varying sizes. 30 small identically sized rocks on our table does not look good to me. I would love to hear your thoughts on number and size of items.

  • Stacey says:

    Thank you, Maria. You are so generous with your knowledge and we appreciate it!

  • Paula says:

    I noticed that someone earlier mentioned a video on lamps. I second that request AND would like to have guidance on making sure light fixtures in different rooms “flow”. We have slowly been replacing 1980’s ceiling fans throughout the house with new light fixtures. Some have been replaced with light fixture only…but living in the Houston area, some rooms will need fan/light combos. It’s an ’80’s home, so not open concept, but I still want every room to look reasonably coordinated with the other rooms in the house.


Leave a Reply