how to style an empty space

I’ve always loved the idea of having a buffet in or near the dining room to display beautiful dishes, cake stands, trinkets, etc. It adds an elegance, a put-togetherness and really helps to synthesize a space. In our dining room I don’t have room for a buffet, but a close alternative is this awesome credenza that my husband inherited from friends when he was a bachelor.


Hubs had it hidden away in the guest bedroom. But as soon as I saw it I knew it was screaming, “I’m a star, and stars must shine!” So, we moved it into a space that doesn’t really have definition. It’s a wall that separates the living room from the kitchen, but it’s also part of the small entry “foyer” at the front of the house. This space was in desperate need of some love, so this sturdy and quite useful piece of furniture (it has lots of storage for all of my entertaining supplies like table cloths, napkin rings, etc.) was the perfect solution for this lonely space.

I had toyed with the idea (and still do from time to time) of painting the natural wood and replacing the drawer pulls, but I actually really love the classic look it exudes. However, it is quite a looonnnngggg credenza and needed a little pizzazz to find it’s place in the world. I thought I’d offer you a few of my style-a-space tips to help you in your next styling adventure:

  1. Whenever I’m dealing with an empty space, first I pray (yes, I really do!) about what the space should look like.
  2. Then, I make a style board (I don’t always do this as sometimes I have a mental picture, but it’s a really good idea to get into the habit of doing this if possible!).
  3. Then I set my budget (which is generally set by my husband) and off I go to find what I need.
  4. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to design an empty space. Before I buy ANYTHING, and because I like to stttrrreeeetttccchhh my dollar as much as possible, I will first look around the house to see if there’s anything I can use or re-purpose in lieu of a purchase.
  5. Once I’ve done that, then I will hit the least expensive stores or the ones with the best sales first. I’m a thrifter at heart, so Goodwill is most always on the list.
  6. I usually take more than one trip to find the treasures, so don’t pressure yourself to make it all happen in one shot because you’ll end up with stuff you don’t really love and end up having to take it back (believe me!).
  7. Once I’ve gathered all the goodies, I begin arranging them until I like the “look.” Sometimes this happens in one go at it (like this time), but most of the time it takes a few tries. Take your time to make it just right, but know that you can always change it up later (I usually end up doing this monthly somewhat unintentionally).

Here’s my design board (and what you end up with doesn’t have to match your board exactly, it’s just a starting place):

credenza style board

So, with a few great deals from West Elm and Target, and a little swish of spray paint, this is what that empty credenza looks like now. A lovely focal point as you enter our home, and I love it!

credenza styled

I found this little owl (I’m loving the owl trend) at Goodwill for $0.50 and sprayed it with some black high sheen spray paint. These books are a vintage collection by Mark Twain that my hubs inherited (we had them in a box in his office). Stacking books is a great way to get some more height and visual interest when styling a space.

credenza styled owl credenza styled books

These awesome mercury glass vases were on Christmas clearance at West Elm for just $10 each. And these gold mirrors were just $5 each at Goodwill. Super deal, and a perfect option for what I was looking for!

credenza styled west elm credenza styled mirrors

If you have a space that needs a little styling pick-me-up, don’t settle for something mediocre. Find what you like and make it your own, even if it takes a bit of time or needs a little DIY touch!

My child, pay attention to my wisdom; Lend your ear to my understanding; | Proverbs 5:1


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