Just as a centerpiece adds personality to a dining room, a cocktail table provides a homeowner with an opportunity to put a personal spin on a living room grouping. Instead of letting it become a catchall for this and that, incorporate these three design rules and let your belongings shine.
1. Vary the heights. A feeling of depth is a pleasing visual. It stops the eye and lets the viewer take in each grouping separately. An easy way to do this is to use stacked books as mini pedestals. This not only raises items higher; the books provide a way to demonstrate your interests. Consider using a theme, such as biographies or mysteries, which can add another interesting element to the items.
2. Group like items together. A collection will have a stronger impact when the items have a relationship. A simple way to do this is to use a tray that visually gathers items together. Or choose items in similar colors, materials or theme. For example, display family photographs in frames of the same color, such as silver or black. Or arrange a tin of old baseball cards with an old ball and mitt. Even utilitarian items have decorative qualities when grouped together.
3. Mix materials and textures. Finally, mix things up by … well, mixing things up. Pair something smooth and glossy with something natural and raw. A glass vase positioned next to a wooden bowl with a living edge will create a juxtaposition of textures that is interesting to the eye and beckons the hands to touch.