If you’re drawn to worn-in pieces but you don’t want your room to look like a flea market, devote some space to a spare, modern display. Tucker’s gray wall holds a neat grid of art, which is the perfect counterpoint to potted and mounted plants, mismatched weathered woods, and varied graphic patterns.
2 of 7Matthew Williams
Create Islands of Beauty
An airy flower arrangement across from the front door can set a poetic tone for your whole house. Against a mottled mirror, poppies seem even more romantic. “It’s a nice way to enter a room,” says Tucker, a Brooklyn-based photo stylist, whose job is to create picture-perfect scenes like this one.
3 of 7Matthew Williams
Set a Neutral Backdrop, and Use Color as Spice
When you have understated, light-toned furniture plus pale floors and walls, the personality of a room depends heavily on the small stuff. Tucker adds life to her languorous, leggy seating with bright, intricate pillows and throws, stacks of books, sentimental decorative objects, and an artful undersized coffee table. Texture also plays a key role. From the nubby tan-and-gray weave of the sisal rug to the organic imperfection of the sofa’s natural linen to the peeling paint on the round mirror frame, it makes the living room tactile and inviting. How do you keep a TV from spoiling the soothing spirit of a space like this? Don’t treat it as a focal point—or as something to hide. Instead, weave it into a casual display of black-and-white objects: Bowls, pretty stones, and framed photos can help it blend with the environment.
4 of 7Matthew Williams
Bring Peace to Work Zones
A furniture-designer friend crafted custom cabinets and shelves for Tucker, turning a rich raw-walnut plank into a desktop. To make a work area inviting, hide all signs of stress within closed storage and exhibit only what’s inspiring. In this home office, reminders and to-do lists live on the computer, not the bulletin board, which is treated as an “ongoing collage.” It’s evocative and fun to look at but not chaotic.
5 of 7Matthew Williams
Showcase What You Love
Sea ephemera from Tucker’s travels mixed with delicate, earthy bowls populate an otherwise unremarkable nook. Says Tucker, a proponent of exhibiting meaningful items, “I know where everything is from—every rock, every shell.” Some tricks for creating satisfying tableaux: Vary the levels by stacking a few items and using containers of different heights; juxtapose smooth and rough; and stick with a soft palette, throwing in one surprise color (here, a small sprig of pink coral feels like a treat).
6 of 7Matthew Williams
Paint a Wall Instead of Buying a Headboard
In a pint-size room where the bed takes up most of the space, roll with the dimensions and make the bed the clear focus. Back it with a striking color (here, Arsenic by Farrow & Ball) rather than a bulky headboard, and pile on pretty prints so the eye zooms right in. Opt for “shrunken” furniture and accessories that won’t compete for attention or feel overwhelming. Tucker chose quirky pieces with small-scale, Alice in Wonderland charm. Because the bedding connects to the wall color, the room feels like a single thought.
7 of 7Matthew Williams
Make an Ordinary Spot Enchanting
Rather than writing off a busy zone, grace it with some of your favorite items; high-traffic areas need the most help. Tucker has no formal entry, but she created one with a rug and a few personality-packed pieces: an antique mirror for quick touch-ups, a chair from eBay for putting on shoes, a wall-mounted table as a drop zone for keys and mail, and a woven bag for stashing slippers and totes. It’s all very functional without being remotely generic.