Add Layers To A Room Without Adding Clutter

Layered coffee table designed by Gioia Interiors' Sarah Sandeman

Sarah Says…

The “Spark Joy” movement has finally hit us and now everyone is second-guessing their spaces. Marie Kondo is definitely on to something when she encourages de-cluttering and I am here to help you translate that into creating the perfect space that is full of layers while staying clutter free!

Unless you are going for a very modern and minimal space, layering items with intention can tell a story and add character to your home. It all comes down to only filling each room with items that add value to your life instead of something that just looks pretty.

Define where to decorate

Each room contains different surfaces that dictate a design by acting as a canvas. They are:

  • The main horizontal surfaces in the room, such as a coffee table, dining table, kitchen island, or nightstand
  • The main wall spaces in the room, such as above a fireplace, above a bed, the main wall in a dining room, open shelving in a kitchen, or the long empty wall in a hallway
  • The floor in the centre of each room
  • Large pieces of furniture, such as a bed, sofa, accent chairs, or head dining chairs

It is important to focus on these areas first to prevent over-decorating a room.

Define what to decorate with

All accessories must work together to tell a story and create the perfect relationship. Designers refer to this as picking a theme for a space. To find your own theme, focus on the following in each room:

  • 1-2 colours and 1 neutral to work with when it comes to pillows, vases, books, drapery and area rugs. I love to mix different tones of 2 colours to add even more depth! Think different shades of dusty blues and greens.
  • 1-2 metals in a space for items like picture frames, light fixtures, mirrors, etc.
  • 1-2 wood stains, keeping one really light and one medium to dark.
Living room and open concept kitchen by Gioia Interiors' Sarah Sandeman
Design by Gioia Interiors

Once you’ve gathered items that go with your theme, make sure each item as significance to you. Whether it was a piece you purchased on a recent trip, a -hand-me-down from a loved one, or something you spoiled yourself with after a big accomplishment, filling your home with these items provides constant value to your life. This helps pare down and eliminate any unnecessary décor that acts as clutter.

How to layer your décor

This is where the fun begins! Now that we’ve selected what areas to decorate and the items you’ll use, it’s time to think about how to place each item with intention.

I style a space using a grouping of items on each surface. A group consists of three to five items that incorporate all elements of your theme. Try to stick with one to two groupings on each surface.

Within each grouping, focus on the following:

  • Size: Within a grouping, you want items that vary in height and width to add interest. Also, pay attention to visual weight by having one heavy item, like a ceramic statue, and one light item, like a glass vase or mirror, in each grouping.
  • Overlapping: Instead of lining items in a row, think about overlapping edges or placing items slightly in front and behind each other. If placing books on a surface, think about stacking them starting with the largest to smallest. Same goes for pillows!
  • Nature: Plants or organically shaped items are always a must-have in each grouping. Items that have texture or curves provide a visual relief and softens any tension that can be created with a lot of angles or hard surfaces.
  • Texture: Mix different finishes and surfaces. My favourite combination right now is mixing together marble, wooden beads, and textured pottery on a coffee table!

Wrapping up!

It’s important to not feel too overwhelmed while decorating. At the end of the day, visual clutter won’t spark joy and so it’s important to create spaces that you love and will spend time in. By following the guidelines above you will use a theme to dictate what gets put into a space, where items get displayed, and how to layer these pieces so you are left with a cohesive and calming look that Marie Kondo would be proud of!

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