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Every year when holiday decorations come down, I go into a bit of a funk. Without the twinkling lights, fragrant boughs and glitter of silver and gold to perk up rooms, the winter blahs suddenly set the mood. To raise spirits, I highly recommend going on a decorating bonanza: rearrange furniture, rehang art, move pillows and rugs into different rooms, buy one fun new thing — shake it up!

Which brings me to the ever chic console table. This is one my favourite pieces of furniture. If you don’t have one, this would be the new thing to treat yourself to. Use it to anchor an art wall (like the one above, seen in Lonny magazine), double as a desk, offer a surface in an entry, decorate a hallway, function as a bar, fill the back of a sofa … their versatility is what makes them great.

Best of all, they provide a compact space to create beautiful decorating moments that give rooms a personality lift. The shot on the left — propped with love birds — is one of my all-time favourite images, styled by H&H’s own Stacey Smithers and shot by Toronto photographer Tracy Shumate. The one on the right is by New York designer Brad Ford. In both, the driftwood table and simple branches establish a pretty beach vibe.

If you’re a collector or just a maximalist, load one up with your treasures. Creating a theme or repeating silhouettes, like the table on the left in the home of Vincent Darre (owner of Maison Darre in Paris) gives the display a cohesive look. A lantern and stoneware gives the table on the right a farmhouse feel.

Or just showcase one gorgeous piece, like the hotel J.K. Place in Capri does in this suite.

When in doubt, decorate in pairs. Symmetry always looks great and creates a more sophisticated, formal feel.

Now go forth and prop like a pro!

For more on styling a console, read Morgan Michener’s Inside A DIY Photo Shoot blog post.

Photo credits:
1. Lonny April/May 2010 issue
2a. House & Home July 2007 issue, photography by Tracy Shumate
2b. Brad Ford
3a. Todd Selby
3b. Steven Gambrel
4. J.K. Capri
5. House & Home December 2009 issue, photography by Ted Yarwood

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