Today is a pretty great day. Not only is it officially October (cough my birthday month) but we are giving you beautiful people what you have been asking for… a shoppable styling post for real-life scenarios (not just to get a pretty photo). To kick off what will hopefully be the first of many, we thought… credenzas. Why? Well, honestly it’s tricky to properly style out a large/long surface. I didn’t truly realize this until I was styling out my “shelf bench” at 11 pm the night before my MOTO shoot. Whoops. Now if you’ve been around these blog parts for a while, you may remember this post from a few years ago that laid out some general rules or even THIS series from 2015 where Emily took one credenza and styled it four ways. All of those are still awesome but Emily and the editorial team wanted to not only give you four (and a half) more updated versions but ones that were actually functional…you know, for real life. So questions such as “how do I style my credenza when my TV is mounted above it?” or “I want to look at my beautiful family in frames ALL the time but how do I do it and have it look good??” shall all be answered with our infamous no-fail rules.
But since all four (and a half…you’ll see what I mean in a sec) of these looks are going to have slightly more specific rules, I want to cover a few things that apply to all/any credenza style you may attempt in the future. They are also the foundations to all four looks we are about to dive into.
Color Palette: I’m sure you knew this was going to be the first rule. Make sure to pick around 3-4 colors and then vary the tones with your different objects.
Varied Shapes: Think about your shapes. Make sure everything isn’t square, or all circular. Mix it up so you can create a visually interesting vignette.
Varied Heights: This idea is in the same vein of varied shapes. Having pieces that have different heights will frame your vignette and again create visual interest to keep that eye moving across the surface. I hope you are ready to hear that phrase A LOT. 🙂
Visual Balance: Make sure that when you look at your credenza, both sides feel visually balanced. Avoid putting too much on one side without balancing it on the other. Your eyes will be happy if you keep it equally “weighted.”
Now, let’s finally get into these looks…
THE TV CREDENZA
Vase | Modern to Classic II: Residential Estates by Landry Design Group | Aspen Style by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (The Library of Great Painters) | Man as Art (A Studio Book) by Malcolm Kirk (vintage) | Footed Bowl
I promise your eyes don’t deceive you. That my friends is a real-life, real person mounted TV. We find that the TV is so often “hidden” or taken out of a room for a styled photo but we know, um, that’s just not real. This shot may look familiar because it’s Arlyn’s wonderful living room and she graciously let us destroy her home for the day. Arlyn (and Charles THANK YOU). But let’s get into what you need to know to create this look in your home.
Start with Color Palette: Here we chose amber, white, black, blues and contrasting wood tones. We kept it neutral but with a fun pop of color with the large glass amber vase. NOTE: Unless you know you want lots of color, we recommend a neutral color palette. This way your eyes won’t go into full overload when you are actually watching TV.
Consider Shapes: Here, we used a good balance of rounded and square shapes. Plus, the multi-shaped garland adds the perfect amount of visual interest and casual movement without overpowering the whole combo.
Varied Height: It’s a good idea to “frame” the TV. Think high-low-high. You want to avoid anything that will cover the screen, of course, so keep that in mind.
Keep It Simple: This is the most important for this look. The idea is to add a bit of careful yet intentional style without overpowering the entire vignette. Your TV is the real star so let’s keep it that way.
Visual Balance: Here we kept it balanced by having a large colorful vase that is glass (which makes it feel lighter) and on the other side used a white but visually heavy, shorter footed bowl with hanging light wood garland to create the perfect balance. Tall, round, colorful, transparent vase + short, white, solid footed bowl with blonde wood garland = perfect.
Groupings: Always mix up the number of objects in a grouping. As you can see (depending on the size of the object) we used a single large vase, two larger books, two smaller books with a box topper (which makes a group of three) and then another group of two (the pedestal bowl and wood garland) at a higher height than the other two groups to visually set it apart.
Make It Functional: We made this look more functional by choosing a box that fits the TV’s remotes. Simple but effective and organized. Think about how you want to use your TV credenza/media console and then choose pieces that work with that.
Without A Soundbar
We know that your daily look will probably not include sculptural branches because it would block important shows like The Bachelor…that’s a BIG no-no. So here is how this set up looks for every day (without branches) on the left and then on the right (with branches) for when company comes over and you want to add a little somethin’ somethin’. FUN FACT: All the greenery that was bought for this shoot was from the grocery store (Trader Joe’s and Gelsons). Very affordable and very possible for you to find.
With A Soundbar
Arch Object | Decorative Rock (unavailable)
Now, Arlyn actually lives with a soundbar on her credenza which made us think, “Hey, other people may also have these soundbars and may want help too!” This is the “and a half” look, FYI. All the previous rules apply but here is our solution for this particular quandary:
Create Two Groupings: We chose to create two groupings of three that frame the soundbar and create enough visual interest so the big black bar isn’t the main event. Embrace the bar because trying to hide and block it with books doesn’t…look great.
Balance Groupings: Notice that on the left, the objects are round in shape, light in color and varied in texture (glass, porcelain, stone, leather). Then on the right, the objects are rectangular, darker in tone, slightly vary in texture and the grouping is shorter overall. You could also just as easily swap out the tall vase for something lower so everything is at the same visual level as the soundbar, making it “blend in” even more.
Make Sure Groupings Take Up A Similar Amount of Real Estate: Both of the groupings take up almost if not the same amount of horizontal space. This is not a hard rule but is an easy way to help with balance.
Phew, that was a lot—time for a drink…
THE BAR CREDENZA:
Lamp | Table Runner | White Vase | Blue Bowl (vintage) | Commune: Designed in California | Mirror |
What’s important when using your credenza as a bar is organized SIMPLICITY. Your bar will naturally have a lot going on (aka lots of delicious booze). That’s what we were going for with this look so let’s jump right on in.
Start with Color Palette: Once again, we kept it neutral with blue, black, white and some natural tones. But what we wanted to lean into was a bit of a tonal feel with the blue runner and blue tray. This helps to modernize the look a bit.
Consider Shapes: We made sure there was a good mix of round, square and even geometric shapes to help your eye wander and keep it interested.
Varied Height: You want to avoid ascending or descending grouping heights. Mix it up. Here we made the lamp the tallest object, then, on the other side, the wine decanter is the second tallest item which makes the bar area seem taller and more prominent than the middle grouping.
Visual Balance: We knew that the tray was going to be busy and full of items. So to balance it out, we chose a large and visually (and physically) heavy table lamp. Then we used the center grouping as the middle ground. Not as busy as the bar but busier (and lighter in color) than the lamp.
Groupings: We kept the groupings all very contained and different in numbers. This way it feels organized but interesting.
Make it Functional: It’s obvious that it’s functional because of the bar but we also wanted to add the table runner to this particular look to avoid any potential liquid ruining the wood of the credenza. Pretty with purpose.
Wall Art: Since there was a good amount visually happening with the credenza surface, we kept the wall art very simple with a round mirror (you could go bigger but this one is only $50). Too much art can lean overwhelming. If you prefer a gallery wall, I would take away the books and nut bowl and just have the plant (greenery is important for a splash of an organic feel). Then just add a few pieces in the same color palette as you chose for your credenza styling.
Tray | Wine Decanter | Whiskey Decanter | Bar Tools | Tortoise Glass Cup | Ceramic Bowl |
Now let’s get specific with the star of this show…
The Bar: Aside from maintaining your color palette (it will make it feel less crazy), your bar should have a variety of shapes and heights by way of liquor bottles, decanters and bitters. Adding in a cute bowl for fruit and a fun patterned cup for your bar tools will add in some texture.
Okay you Boozin’ Susan, put down that delicious cocktail because it’s time to focus on what really matters…photos of your family.
THE FAMILY PHOTO CREDENZA
Lamp | Lampshade (unavailable) | Woven Tray | Ceramic Planter (size unavailable) | Candle (similar) | Circle Marble Frame | Vase |
It’s pretty uncommon to see lots of family photos grace design magazines and websites but most people work hard raising their families so it is only natural that they want to stare at photos of them all the time. We actually get asked a lot about how to style family photos in a stylish way. Let us show and tell you how.
Start with Color Palette: Okay promise this is the last neutral look. But honestly when it comes to including lots of family photos, keeping the color palette neutral (but warm and textured) will make everything look more pulled together and chic.
Add Texture to Offset Rectangle and Square Frames: There are a lot of square and rectangle frames in this look so choosing other objects with a lot of texture was really important to round out the vibe. The lamp, lampshade, tray and vase are VERY textured thus making the whole vignette feel like it has a lot of movement and comfort. (The awesome maiden fern leaves don’t hurt either).
Number of Frames on Credenza: OOOOOKAY. I know this is hard because I know how beautiful your family is but for an average size credenza, the max amount of frame should be about 4. MAYBE you can squeeze in one more, but crossing over into 6+ territory on one surface will start to feel cluttered. But don’t worry, because the next tip will help you get in more of those faces you adore.
How to Add More Photos: Good news if four pictures just aren’t enough! You can create a gallery wall above your credenza and add a few more photos and kiddo drawings mixed in with other art pieces. That part is important. It will feel more pulled together if you have non-photo art mixed in.
Mix Up Black & White and Color Photos: All color photos may throw off your chosen color palette but a couple is nice to bring in some life. Then having the majority of the photos be black and white will make everything feel grounded and chic.
Varied Height and Shape: The height of the lamp is balanced by the color and fullness of the vase and plant. Then all of the frames have different heights and shapes (and colors and materials) to make it interesting and multi-note. One note styling = bummer.
Groupings: Two groupings with two different amount of objects keeps it interesting. But note that the grouping on the left comes further into the center of the credenza. This slight offset is crucial to the visual stimulation and helps to fill in what would have been too big of a gap.
Art left to right: Mist Rises Over the Water by Renee Anne | Catapillar 101 by Velinda’s Left Hand (unavailable) | Mist Rises Over the Water by Renee Anne
Gallery Wall: Here is a whole video on how to create a gallery wall with Emily but with this one, we styled the credenza first then design the wall. Taking into account the height of the lamp and vase, we spaced out the photos, sizes of frames and other art mediums to make it all feel visually balanced.
Now, this company was founded by a professional stylist so we had to create one look that was simply decorative. I mean maybe you don’t need your credenza to have any further purpose than to show off pretty things that make you happy. You are my people. Let us show you how we did it…
THE DECORATIVE CREDENZA
Lamp | Woman Paper Collage by Sharlene Kayne | Read Between the Lines by Cecilia Hospers | Neutral Painting by Ninos Studio | Black Metal Slinky (unavailable) | Yellow Book (vintage) | Squiggle Vase | Brass Candleholder | Black Candlestick Holders (unavailable) | Blue Vase | Striped Box |
I’m going to be honest, I have a lot of “rules” for achieving this but this gal is really all about breaking the rules. “The Decorative Credenza” requires playing…a lot. When we put this look together, we put almost all of the pieces we had in the postmodern style on the credenza and just started moving things around. Here is how we ended up here…
Pick Your Key Pieces: We knew we had to use that killer lamp, the stunning woman paper collage by Sharlene Kayne, the metal slinky and the little olive tree (to add a little organic feel).
Color Palette: We pulled the color palette from the paper collage, though, because we wanted the artwork to be the feature piece, we kept everything neutral aside from the cobalt blue vase (very postmodern) and the large yellow book. We then made sure that those pieces were dispersed to give visual balance.
Lean Your Art: This gives a casual yet collected look. Like an extremely cool art collector that is always changing their art because they can.
More is More (with Control): This is the kind of look that calls for an array of curated objects. You just want to make sure that each piece as “a little something” whether that be texture, shape or color.
Mix Visual Weights: Have a mix of chunky and delicate items. It will give your eye a break and make it look more interesting.
Balance Sheens: Since all of the art we chose was matte, we balanced it out with objects that have varying levels of sheen to bring the look to life.
Balance Abstract and Graphic Patterns: Make sure to have both. Here we used the graphic striped box, candlestick holders, metal slinky, blue vase and perforated lamp base. Then we chose the canvas print, framed canvas painting and white planter. It creates a really awesome visual tension.
Add Something Unexpected and Sculptural: Take this amazing black metal slinky that Emily let us borrow. It’s heavy and delicate at the same time and adds such a cool element. It’s hard for your eye to not be drawn to it immediately.
Purpose is NOT Mandatory: Not every piece needs to have a function as long as it’s cool, something you feel happy looking at, and contributes to the overall style. Take the brass candle holder (it looks like a little bowl here, but it’s actually meant for a thick pillar). We didn’t use a candle because it looked awesome by itself.
Break Normal Rules: Get crazy! Here we chose to put the plant towards the middle of the credenza instead of the more standard side placement. Doing this creates that bit of unexpected “why didn’t I think to do that” vibe. Play around with placement for sure. If you always put a lamp off to the left, put it somewhere else, step back, look, and keep playing. You might be surprised where you land.
So that’s it for the styling portion of this post. Now let’s shop y’all! In case you are looking for a credenza, I have rounded up 66 of our favorites in three different budget categories. Plus, I sourced A TON of really good items to style with for the shoot that were never used in the final vignettes. It was heartbreaking but fear not because I put them all on our Shop page for you to peruse if you want to look at more options.
Okay, let’s get into these credenzas…
1. Marte Media Console | 2. Envelo | 3. Landon Buffet | 4. Alba | 5. Lixhult | 6. Live Edge Wood And Gold Metal Sloan Sideboard | 7. Cliffmay Slat Media Stand | 8. Oslo Storage Console | 9. Bale | 10. Tobacco Tessuto Buffet | 11. Carson Large Storage Credenza | 12. Hemnes | 13. Fuel | 14. Boulevard Café Credenza | 15. Light Charcoal Grey Buffet | 16. Pine Mid Century Smith Media Stand | 17. White Walnut Wood Sideboard | 18. Black Wood Mid Century Media Stand | 19. Suspend II | 20. Josef Buffet | 21. Stockholm | 22. Baxter Credenza | 23. Sandro Sideboard | 24. Lattice Inlay 4 Door Sideboard
1. Clyde Mahogany Media Console | 2. Dolores Cane Buffet | 3. Array Sideboard | 4. Natural White Oak Credenza | 5. Trace Wire Mesh Cabinet Credenza | 6. Modernist Wood + Lacquer Media Console | 7. Grove Storage Cabinet | 8. Kabino Sideboard | 9. Industrial Storage Media Console | 10. Hover Wall-Mounted Cabinet | 11. Dorset Linen Credenza | 12. Perforated Metal Media Console | 13. Kendall Cream Credenza | 14. Stafford Reclaimed Pine Buffet | 15. Jacques Media Console | 16. Bios | 17. Pictograph Media Console | 18. Seno | 19. Reflect Rattan Credenza | 20. Peek Small Media Stand | 21. Aged Brass Dresser | 22. Mod Credenza | 23. Madera | 24. Delphine Buffet
1. Natural Wood Media Console | 2. Avers Media Cabinet | 3. Air Sideboard | 4. Latigo Console | 5. Delvin Cabinet | 6. Barquette Buffet | 7. Leather Mid Credenza | 8. Lap Credenza | 9. Caledonia Woven Console | 10. Targa Sideboard | 11. Whitebird Sideboard | 12. Solna Credenza | 13. Shale Cabinet | 14. Flores Console | 15. Clad Credenza | 16. Bastone Sideboard | 17. Dang Console | 18. Roce Sideboard
Well, that’s it from me…today. I will be back and hopefully with more content like this. But first I have questions that I would love for you to answer in the comments. Was this helpful? Did you like it? If we did this again what would you like us to style next? Coffee tables, dining tables, bookshelves? We want to create posts that help you so give me your thoughts…please. 🙂
Love you, mean it.
***Photography by Sara Ligorria-Tramp
***Styled by Jess Bunge with assistance from Velinda Hellen
Hi, this is super helpful. Would love to see your thoughts on room dividing/behind the sofa credenzas. Thank you!!
Me too! I’ve been in a styling dilemma over this for over a year!
Thank you and what a great suggestion! I will add it to the list:)
Me three!!! I have the most awkward thing happening behind my sectional.
Me four! I struggle with how to style our credenza behind our sofa, exacerbated by a toddler who climbs on both. I feel like I have to forgo style for sanity.
This is a great and very useful post. I would love to see you all do this with a bar cart.
That would be great and especially for the holidays xx
This was SOOO good. we kinda were able to achieve the tv look because i didn’t want it bare… and it has something on it!
Thank you so much!!
Thanks for posting this post (is that how you use that verb?)! It’s very helpful to have a guide for “every day life” instead of worrying about what the instagram-worthiness of the decor.
That was the total correct usage:) I am so glad you found this helpful. We really want to make sprucing up your home easy and approachable.
I really enjoyed this. Any time I can get into all of your talented brains, it makes me excited! Thank you for sharing.
That is so sweet of you to say!
I flipped through this post, because those intro. gifs are….Just. Way. Too. Fast!
Pleeeease….3 seconds before a change so we can focus and get a taste of the stills that are to come.
The OTT speed for no reason was wah-really off putting.
The gif, in the beginning, is just to show a little of what to expect in a fun and quick way. Otherwise, all those photos are still in the body of the post. But when we do another gif we will definitely take the timing into account:)
Thank you 🙂
It would make it easier even at 2.5 seconds eavh frame.
Love this and I’m going to take some insight for my TV credenza. However, there is one credenza that is missing. It’s the looooong credenza, or more likely fauxdenza with ikea hanging cabinets and added top and possibly sides (http://www.the-brick-house.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/DSC00372-copy1.jpg).
All these suggestions work very well for a normal sized credenza. But what if it’s a few meters long? Maybe a whole wall or niche? It is way trickier!
Maybe worth it to cover it in the future?
Totally! It obviously isn’t as clear but most of those rules can be applied to any length of credenza. Actually Arlyn has an extra long ikea one in her dining room if you want to check it out!
We use a long narrow table as a tv/media stand with a shelf that runs underneath the table top. Any tips for concealing/dealing with all the wires when you have something more open? Thank you!
Does Catapillar (sic) 101 by Valinda’s Left Hand mean Velinda drew some faux kid art to fill out this gallery wall??? I really hope that’s the case. I find that hilarious.
This is such a helpful post! Taking notes.
HAHAHA YES! She drew it with her left hand while we all watched and it was the cutest thing.
ALSO HI GRACE!
Haha I think y’all think I’m a different Grace… perhaps the Grace at EHD??
I’m just a long-time reader from Texas. Though in my fantasy I won the vacation giveaway and wormed my way into the EHD team and wow this is getting creepier by the letter.
Love the art Velinda – made me laugh!
Love love love this as A) I am on the hunt and saving up for the perfect credenza to replace our too small TV stand and B) trying to figure out how to make do style said too small TV stand until we find the right piece to replace it!
Also- I just bought six of the tall blue LIXHULT cabinets to use as a china cabinet and they are THE BEST. They are surprisingly sturdy and really easy to assemble. Our open plan living room/dining room has a lot of medium dark wood tones (laminate floors, midcentury wood dining table and chairs, wood coffee table), so another wooden casegood might have started to feel heavy. Highly recommend!
What timing!! And thank you for the recommendation xx
I’m always in awe of the great styling you all do. Thanks for sharing your genius! Something to aspire to for all the spaces.
that is so sweet of you to say<3
love this! I’d like to petition for a non-holiday mantel styling post in this series
YES!!!!!!!!!!!! I LOVE THIS POST! PLEASE KEEP THEM COMING!
Question! ?♀️ I love the gallery wall and the leaning art.. Can you do BOTH together? Any “rules” to make that work?
Sure! It wasn’t on top of a credenza but I did a mix with my gallery wall:
On a credenza, I would probably choose a larger piece to lean so it doesn’t look bitsy and have it act as your “anchor piece” then build the rest of the wall off of that. I may be biased but I love that look:)
Great story! I have missed these!
I need to know everything about those unavailable black candleholders from the last grouping, like what search terms would I use?
They are so good and I am so sad they aren’t available. And you’ll probably be as shocked as me to find out they are from h&m home! They have a rubbery texture if that helps? Good luck and let me know if you find them:)
Ditto on the black candlesticks! Love them.
Not quite as cool but I have these black candlesticks from Target.
What about a credenza where you feed your cat on top because if you leave his bowl on the floor, the dogs eat his food. Except your cat is kind of a jerk so he likes to knock his bowl onto the ground. So you have to wedge his bowl into the bars of a lamp you got at the flea market?
sounds like you need a ridiculously heavy marble pedestal bowl, ha! chic but like…it can hold cat food! (obviously, I know you were kidding, but…I don’t know, honestly maybe that would work? haha)
Oh man I have to do the same (except I’m hiding the food from an obese cat who can’t jump as high)! Luckily my cat doesn’t knock her bowl on the ground, but she does enjoy pulling pieces of food out of the bowl and scattering them all over the credenza.
Really appreciate the real life approach of this post. I second the petition for non holiday mantle styling… getting the scale right seems impossible especially with a skinny mantle… please help!!!
Love this! It’s so helpful. Would love to see a real life ‘live’ styling video. Curious to see how you work through your ideas and what doesn’t work.
As always, this is so helpful! If this is going to be a series, I’d love a post on how to style a sofa table when a) it’s the first thing you see when you walk in a home, b) it’s floating in a room along the back of a sofa, and c) when you need to keep it low profile so as not to take up a ton of vertical visual space. Thanks for all the wisdom, y’all! So appreciate you.
Love this post! For anyone else who wants to be able to store all their TV extras (DVR, Blu-ray player, etc.) out of sight while still being able to reach them with your remote without opening cabinet doors, I highly recommend the Marin media console from Crate and Barrel. It’s solid elm, under $2000, and I find it beautiful and very functional.
Very helpful, thank you!
Forgot, please do dining tables next. My sit bare and not sure what to do with it! Thanks again. Great content.
Amazing and helpful site, and specific topics!! Questions: How do you proportion your credenza to your table size? If you are ordering a credenza that is ‘wall mount’, how do you decide what height to hang it… in proportion to table height?
Thank you for all of the great pointers! I have a vintage wicker buffet that I need to style out and i’m looking forward to getting it done now!
I really enjoyed this article. Any time I can get into all of your talented brains, it makes me excited! Thank you for sharing. https://www.a1models.in (A1Models)
Love, love, love these types of posts!!! Thanks for all the great ideas!
I would like to see you do a post showing how to style a mantle with a tv and soundbar above it.
Oh, I would have loved to see a credenza under a bank of windows!
Loved this, thanks so much! So, so helpful to see your thought processes. I’d love to see coffee tables — rectangular, circular, and ASYMMETRICAL please! I have a gorgeous bean-shaped coffee table and am always looking for ideas to style it.
I do enjoy this type of advice post. Thank you!
As I was reading, I realised that I have a decorating and furniture placement problem in my home that I don’t think I’ve seen tackled by anyone I follow.. I wonder if the EHD team could help one day?
Our house is small (1500 square feet), with semi-open plan living areas and a lot of floor to ceiling wall to wall glazing. So we are really pleased about the light but it makes it hard to place art and furniture as.any wall without a window gets a fireplace or radiator (we are in the UK).
I’d love ideas for furnishing and styling against windows, radiators and the like. Some advice for open plan schemes suggests free standing units. That’s great in a Loft but often people opt for open plan because their space is limited so there’s. no room for free standing room dividers.
As more people have gone for walls of glass of late, this may be quite a common problem you could solve for us! Your ideas are always so helpful.
Great post! Can you guys do one on styling tops of armoires?? Thanks!