Interior Styling 101: Desk Edition

interior styling 101_desk edition

What exactly is interior styling?

Some of you may already be pros at it. Some of you may have never heard of it. And some of you may be underestimating it.

Styling is a different animal than interior decorating and general interior design. Interior designers will sometimes actually hire stylists to come and style their rooms before being professionally photographed, as it requires different skills and a different part of the brain to be a stylist.

Interior decorators like myself are hired for color schemes, flooring ideas, furniture purchases and layout, window treatments, and the best part- decor and accessories.  I am not tearing down walls or working with contractors to change layout or orchestrate large home renovations like an interior designer does.  However, during my time as a decorator, I’ve found that the actual art of styling someone’s home, especially for photo shoots, is a skill that takes lots of practice and trial-and-error.  Not to mention slightly obsessive tendencies. These are a few of my earlier projects that were photographed and how I styled them out.

I’ve learned a lot about styling for photoshoots over the past few years.  One of the hardest lessons for me to learn (as a thrifty girl at heart) is to OVERBUY accessories before a photoshoot.  Like, way overbuy.  The more options, the better.  I usually purchase all of the big and essential items for my clients and have them installed beforehand, and then on photoshoot day, come in which a bunch of props and accessories that if they so desire, can buy from me after the shoot.

In my current projects, I have two desks/office areas that need to be styled.  The one desk area however, has really been grinding my gears as I try to think of how to style it.  The office area is actually in my client’s master bedroom.  Her new desk is a beautiful, white, L-Shaped desk from Wayfair that we paired it with a stunning white leather desk chair as shown below.  That chair may or may not have spent a couple of days in my office.  You know, just so I could make sure it was working properly…

Anyway, the desk is oriented in the corner right where two walls of windows with plantation shutters meet.  It’s such a great spot in such a great master bedroom and I can’t wait to shoot it.  However, the fact that there is nothing but windows in front of this desk is keeping me from adding any artwork, prints, or shelving to the walls above. So I’ve been thinking about how to style this desk to give it character and make it pop among all the white surrounding it.   I learn the most about styling from studying pictures of spaces I find to have personality and character, while looking clean and uncluttered. Here are a few inspiration pictures I’ve been studying on Pinterest.

The Glitter Guide

Left: The Nest  // Top Right: The Everygirl  // Bottom Right: York Avenue

Notice how in all of these mainly white offices, they are organized and uncluttered, but clearly lived-in with plenty of character and style. An interior designer or decorator might be inclined to just photograph a clean desk with a laptop or lamp on it.  It’s the stylist’s job to come in to give it that fun pop of personality that usually makes you stop in your Pinterest scroll and actually check out the picture or Pin-it.

For my client’s desk styling, I put together the following list of accessories I will most likely be pulling from.  While the actual items can be switched out depending on your color scheme or style, you can use this list to get a general idea of what you can use to style YOUR desk and office space. Will you be having a photographer come and take pictures of the rooms in your home? Probably not. But playing around with accessories to create picturesque vignettes is just FUN!  And the more you practice, the better you become!

Pin this list for later if styling your desk space is on your bucket list!

Office Styling Accessories

  1. Letter Sorter  //  2. Pencil Cup  //  3. Desk Lamp  //  4. Decorative Object  //  5. Desk Fan  //  6. Hanging Planter (thinking of using a few of these to draw the eye upward since I cannot hang any pictures or shelves above the desk)  //  7.  Picture or inspirational print for those daydreaming moments  //  8. Small Desk Planters – natural elements like plants are a styling must for nearly every space in your home //  9. Desktop Organizer  //  10.  File Storage


Try playing with some of these items when styling your desk or office space at home.  Take a few pictures and move some things around. Don’t be afraid to try weird arrangements or use funky objects. Styling is more of a creative experience that has some guidelines, but no real rules.  Have fun and good luck!


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