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Dazzling Display Spaces: Tips for Professional Styling Console Tables, Bookshelves, and Curios

Airport shelf by Cattelan Italia

Whether it’s a console table in your entryway, a bookshelf in your bedroom, or a curio cabinet in your kitchen, display furniture offers the perfect spot to show off items that have a special place in your heart and home. A well-styled display piece can create a cohesive aesthetic in your interior and lend a sense of artistry to the surrounding space. Soheila Aghili, a designer and sales associate at Copenhagen Scottsdale, agrees. She says, “These furnishings are like a three-dimensional canvas where you can show off your favorite decor and let your personality shine.”

When it comes to decor you can incorporate, the possibilities are plentiful. From vases and bowls filled with fresh flowers, to books, sculptures, artwork, and photos, or even mirrors and lamps, a world of aesthetic options awaits. While a blank canvas may be intimidating, Aghili and Copenhagen have the following guidelines to make the styling process easier. Below, find general tips that will work for all three types of display furniture, as well as more specific suggestions for consoles, bookshelves, and curios.

General Styling Tips

Find one or more focal points.

For those who are unsure where to begin, Aghili suggests, “Try starting with a statement piece. Whether it’s a beautiful vase like the Folded Glass Vase, or a whimsical statue like the Abstract Woman, a statement piece catches the eye and forms a focal point that can help you decide what surrounds it.” For a console table, hanging a mirror (like the Adelle) or an artwork (like Watchpoint I) on the wall above can create a striking focal point. For a bookshelf or curio cabinet, try multiple focal points spread out across different levels to lead the eye around the piece.

Play with color and continuity.

“To make your display space look put-together, choose a cohesive color palette that works with the larger color scheme of the room,” Aghili recommends. She also advises clients to strike the right balance between similarity and contrast in the items they display. Especially for larger pieces like a bookshelf or curio, repeated motifs – like pops of the same bright color, or figurines by the same artist placed on one or more levels – can make a display space look thoughtfully curated.

Experiment with contrast.

On the other hand, don’t be afraid to introduce variety as well – playing with different textures, heights, or shapes of objects can keep your display visually exciting. For instance, if one end of a console table is anchored by a relatively taller lamp, try placing a shorter item next to it like a decorative bowl or a small stack of books. To balance out your display, you may enjoy the look of another tall or mid-height item placed at the other end of the table, perhaps one with a contrasting material, form, or finish.

Don’t forget about negative space.

“Consider how much space you want to leave around the objects in your display,” says Aghili. “A curated look can depend as much on what you leave out as what you include.” Indeed, negative space around items can place more of an emphasis on them and make it easier to appreciate their individual qualities. For a satisfying effect, you may enjoy clustering items in groups and leaving a bit of empty space between the groups.

Add a light source.

Not only does a light source create a stylish accent, it also serves a practical purpose by lending layered illumination to a room. Try a statement table lamp like the Ophelia or Everett on your console to infuse your entryway or hallway with a warm glow. For a bookshelf, a smaller lamp like the Carissa or Kaden placed within a shelf, or an adjustable floor lamp like the Emerson placed nearby, makes it a breeze to find your favorite titles. For a curio cabinet, consider one with built-in lighting like the Bella Clara so your treasures can be admired at any time, day or night.

Tips for Console Tables

• Because console tables are often placed in high-traffic areas like entryways and living rooms, they may easily become cluttered. Aghili recommends incorporating items in a console display that are both elegant and pragmatic. “A bowl you can put your keys in like the Canoe, or a tray for your mail like the Obscura, can help your table stay organized and aesthetically pleasing,” she advises.

• Additionally, a small table runner can add a fun or cozy touch, as well as protecting the surface from being damaged by moisture from a potted plant or sharp edges from keys.

• If the design of the table base allows, you can place storage baskets or an ottoman underneath it. “A classic ottoman like the Elly or one with storage like the Jazz will let you sit at the table and use it as a desk if you need,” Aghili says.

• A console table placed against a bedroom wall with a mirror above it and an ottoman underneath can become a bedroom vanity.

Tips for Bookshelves

• Bookshelves are a prime place to show off both your literary and artistic tastes – consider sprinkling your shelves with smaller framed art prints or figurines. Small statues with enough weight – like the Blue Glass Chicken – can also be used as unique bookends.

• For a fun contrast, Aghili says, “Try stacking some books horizontally instead of vertically. Top off the stack with a decorative object, like the Orbit Glass Ball or the Dotted Horned Owl, as the finishing touch.”

• Color can be another factor to consider – you may enjoy arranging your books so the spines form a color gradient, like a rainbow, or choosing a set color scheme for the books on a particular shelf.

• Alternately, you may want to think about arranging your books by weight with light books on upper shelves and heavy books on lower shelves — this provides a bit of extra stability and an eye-catching tiered look.

• You can also take the jackets off hardcover books if you’re going for a more classic or vintage aesthetic, or if a book jacket clashes with the look you’re trying to create.

• If you want to add foliage to your bookshelf, consider whether artificial plants are a better choice, as moisture may damage more delicate books.

Tips for Curios

• “A curio cabinet is the best place to show off collections of fascinating or well-loved objects,” says Aghili. “Curios provide a protective environment for your prized possessions so they can be enjoyed for years to come.” Pieces like family heirlooms, antique or vintage items, jewelry, travel souvenirs, and memorabilia are all prime candidates for displaying in a curio – though you can fill one with anything you want to put a spotlight on.

• If you place your curio in a dining room or kitchen, consider using it to display platters and dishware, a tea service, or unique bottles and glasses. If the curio comes with storage drawers or cabinets, you can stash extra dishes, drinkware, or cutlery within.

• A fun option can be to use your curio as a “cabinet of curiosities.” An idea dating back to the Italian Renaissance, cabinets of curiosities could include extensive collections of items like natural specimens, cultural relics, unusual objects, and more. In that vein, you can show off collections of rocks, fossils, shells, bones, or found objects in your curio – or any assemblage of one-of-a-kind items that gives a window into your personality.

• To make items in a curio stand out better, it may help to add an elegant fabric or paper backdrop on the back panel or shelves for extra contrast.

If you’re dreaming of crafting a dazzling display space, Copenhagen has you covered. Not only do we carry a variety of console tables, shelving systems, and curios, but we also have a plethora of decor options ranging from sculptural vases to modern lamps, to quirky sculptures. Best of all, our customer-focused design and sales teams are happy to point you in the right direction so you can fashion your home into your personal gallery.