6 Home Styling Tips We Learned From Working With Emily Henderson and Keyanna Bowen

We have a whole new understanding of duvet covers now.

The process of designing a photo-ready home doesn't end once the furniture is selected, rugs are unfurled, and art is up on the walls. To give a home instant star power, that's where styling comes in. In the primary bedroom of the 2021 Real Simple Home, interior designer Emily Henderson and interiors photographer and blogger Keyanna Bowen collaborated to create a room full of whimsical wallpaper and cozy materials. Every detail, right down to the bedside glass of water and the throw blanket-bedecked side chair, invite you to stay, curl up with a good book, and maybe even take a nap.

Designer Emily Henderson in kitchen
Sara Tramp

It's no surprise that Henderson—who literally wrote the book on home styling—and Bowen, who specializes in styling and photographing homes, knew how to style the bedroom to perfection. Here are some styling tricks we learned from observing their work and plan to incorporate into our own homes.

Unexpected Design Ideas, Real Simple Home 2021

Bring Nature Home

No matter your home decor style or your budget, there's a way to work natural elements into your space. "A leafy branch cascading out of a vase or a bunch of blooms picked from the garden can instantly make the space feel effortlessly chic (for zero dollars)!" says Bowen. Don't have a backyard? An inexpensive grocery store bouquet can be split up into a few bud vases for the kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom.

Rethink the Duvet Cover

"Sometimes it can be hard to find an actual throw blanket in the right color/pattern/size you need, but there is always a plethora of fun patterns and color options when it comes to duvet covers," says Bowen. So the next time you're having trouble finding the perfect throw blanket, ditch the duvet insert, and drape just the cover across the end of the bed for a little extra warmth and visual interest.

RS Home 2021
Christopher Testani

Set the Scene

Sometimes, the interior styling of a space invites you to use it in a certain way. If you want to read more often, follow this design duo's lead and make your reading chair the most alluring spot in the house. With a cozy throw blanket draped on the armchair, an ottoman to kick your feet up on, and reading glasses within arm's reach, you'll have no choice but to pick up a good book. The same concept applies to setting up a home office you'll actually enjoy working in. Once styled with colorful desk organizers and inspiring artwork, you might not dread sitting down at your desk.

Real Simple Home 2021, Primary Bedroom Bathroom
Christopher Testani

Vary the Heights

When styling a vignette, grouping objects of varying heights is more pleasing than when everything is the same size. To elevate some your favorite items, borrow this trick from Henderson and Bowen and boost vases or potted plants with a stack of books.

Layer the Bed

Not only does a bed with multiple layers of sheets, comforters, and pillows feel cozier, but it also looks luxurious. When styling a bedroom, the pros may even layer multiple duvet covers or tuck multiple inserts into one cover for a plush look. If you love the layered look but also tend to sleep hot, opt for decorative pillows that can be removed from the bed before you hit the hay.

Try the Tray Trick

We were reminded of the power of a decorative tray to corral countertop clutter when we spotted the elegant gold tray in the bathroom at the Real Simple Home. Body lotion, a bouquet, and cotton balls might ordinarily look cluttered on the counter, but when arranged atop a gold tray, they create a pretty (and useful) vignette.

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