In an effort to get quick tactical tips on how to decorate my apartment, I reached out to Katie Sumner at the Anthropologie Design Center for advice.
The Design Center is in the Anthropologie in Atherton, and it’s one of 15 in the nation — Anthropologie launched the concept two years ago, and Charlotte’s opened in September. Basically it’s where you go to order furniture (which is made in North Carolina!), check out samples and swatches or get home styling services.
Katie has been the design stylist there for about six months, but she’s worked at Anthropologie for six years — she knows style.
What we did: I had Katie create a few vignettes, walk me through her style choices and give me step-by-step instructions on how to recreate the look myself. She styled a coffee table, dinner table and a bed and put together a gallery wall — all things she’s asked about frequently.
Across the board, Katie suggests mixing store-bought and vintage pieces and things you pick up while traveling. Most things she used are from Anthropologie, but she also mixed in some pieces from Sleepy Poet.
(1) Have height variation to create some dimension. Katie suggests grouping things in odds and breaking the table into segments to do this. So for a rectangular coffee table, she did a tray on one side, a stack of books on the other. On top of the books, she chose three objects to display — and since the trinket dish and incense sticks are smaller, she opted for a taller candle.
(2) Always have coasters and candles. Everything on the table should make you smile, and most of it should be functional. Katie says everyone should use coasters to protect their table, and candles are a “treat for all the senses” that help create a cozy ambience. For her, some sort of cute catch-all dish is also key.
(3) Mix organic and glamorous. Katie always recommends something green — even if you need to go with fake plants. Balance the greenery out with something a little more glam, like the agate coasters she piled beside the plant and dotted gold trinket tray.
(1) Always have a tumbler and a wine glass. Realistically, Katie said, most dinner parties involve at least the option of wine, so plan on people have something to drink water out of and something for wine.
(2) Use a centerpiece that fits the scale of the table. The table pictured seats 10, so Katie went for a dramatic centerpiece — a smaller table would call for a smaller centerpiece. She recommends fresh flowers or some kind of greenery, and she said to take the centerpiece off during dinner if it keeps you from seeing everyone’s faces (like this one would).
(3) Invest in fun washable napkins. These napkins are washable, versatile, easy to use and still special enough to add a personal flare to any place setting. They’re pretty but super practical, too.
(4) If you’re going to invest in dinnerware, don’t be afraid to mix and match. But do go neutral (which includes Navy, according to Katie). You can mix textures for a more eclectic and curated look.
(1) Everyone needs a nightstand with storage. And some sort of bench on the end if you have room. Again, these pieces look pretty but they serve really practical purposes.
(2) You can never have too many pillows. But if you want a more standard look (like pictured) you start with three Euro pillows in the back, then your standard shams (ones you sleep with), two or three decorative pillows and then one small or lumbar pillow up front.
(3) A darker color can really anchor a bed. Katie said most people want a light and airy oasis when it comes to their bedroom, but she suggests using navy, black or brown in the color scheme to anchor the look. You can bring the color in through pillows or a throw blanket.
(1) Tape it out on the floor first first. Katie suggests using masking tape on the floor to mark where you want everything, that way you can get an idea of spacing before putting holes in your wall. Play around with what you have in terms of color, balance and placement.
(2) Create some dimension. Katie said we should be using baskets (trendy) or other 3D objects to pop off the wall.
(3) Don’t be afraid of color. Bring in as much texture and color as possible to create a personal and unique look.