My husband has had his grandmother's secretary desk for years, long before we were married. It's always been with us, but in six houses (good grief we've moved a lot) this is the first home where it has been in a main room and visible. I've never spent any time styling it, mostly because I never knew what to do with it, but finally decided it was time.
I'm sure there is a formula that would make this a no-brainer, but I don't know what it is. I kind of created one on the fly. I also didn't want to buy anything new, so I worked only with what I had.
Best way to start is with a clean slate. Take everything out. Even if you plan on reusing some of the items already in there.
I started at the top with my taller pieces.
Added books to the center shelf. I didn't want things too similar, so I laid some of the books flat on one side.
Added smaller pieces in with the books. Instead of placing the turtle below the candlesticks, I flipped it to the other side so the white and metallic pieces on the two shelves are diagonal from each other.
The bottom shelf is a little tricky. Once the doors are shut, things get visually lost since our living room window reflects on the glass doors. I used a grouping of white pieces on the left that would stand out from the dark wood and a photo with a lot of white space on the right. The butterfly was a free image I downloaded from The Graphic's Fairy. I can't find the exact one I used, but there are so many good ones! I then added a cup with my grandmother's collection of silver spoons for another layer.
And that's it!
Wasn't quite as scary as I thought it was. The hardest part is always getting started.
SOURCES: Ethan Allen secretary - family piece (similar here) // zebra chair - thrifted (reupholstered in this fabric) // sheepskin // perforated ginger jar - Homegoods (similar here) // brass turtle // coral (similar here) // milk glass (thrifted) // free butterfly downloads // silver cup (Pottery Barn, no longer avail)
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