Wide Open Spaces

Local decorating and organizing experts give you the rundown on simple ways you can rearrange, reorganize and reclaim often cluttered open areas.

By Kathryn Bennett | Photo by Lindze McCarter

Nov 2013

Suit Your Shelves: A local mom and author of, Lindze McCarter says the keys to aesthetically pleasing open shelving are balance, scale and functionality. “My go-to items when styling are boxes or baskets, books, plants and a few décor pieces,” she says. 

Want to give your space a fresh new look without a complete makeover? A few 417-land home styling experts shared how you can easily rearrange your space. Carla Mendenhall, owner of Styling Spaces, brings her home decorating techniques to the table, and Michelle Cantrell reveals her secrets for successful home staging. Plus, Lindze McCarter, a local stay-at-home mom and author of who has specialized the art of keeping a beautiful and clean home with two little boys, shares a few things she’s learned.

Coffee Table
Cantrell likes to place a stack of books on the coffee table. “Think about clean lines, and remove the clutter,” she says. Or, if you have a lot of pieces to display, consider a tray. “Trays are really practical for coffee tables,” McCarter says. “They not only hold important items, but they are easy to pick up and move when cleaning.” 

Open Shelving
“Most people say having more items is better when it comes to open shelves, but I don’t think that is always true,” McCarter says. “I think it’s more about balance, scale and functionality of items you choose to display.” For example, if you have open shelving in an office, consider displaying baskets for pens, pencils and papers.

“If shelves are removable, break them up so the heights aren’t so symmetrical,” Mendenhall says. She also explains that creating a vignette in the shelf is preferable to over-filling the shelf. “Angle the books,” she says. “Tell a story, and mix in photos.” Cantrell says to place some books vertically and some horizontally. She also advises avoiding too much knick-knack clutter. 

End Tables and Night Stands
Small tables can be clutter magnets, but Cantrell has a smart solution. Use baskets to hold small items, such as keys or remote controls. Mendenhall suggests adding interesting textures in simple ways, such as a quirky lamp shade. 

Open Cabinetry in the Kitchen
Mendenhall says this look can be managed by keeping your dishes organized and keeping with an overall color scheme. Cantrell says you can use the open look to highlight special items and pops of color. If all else fails, you can put leaded glass in if you don’t want people to see in.

Fireplace Mantle
For this focal point in the home, matching is out. “People think that if there are two large candlesticks, they have to be exactly the same and very symmetrical,” Mendenhall says. “You want balance, but you don’t need the same exact base or candlesticks at each end.” You can still have a cohesive look by using objects of the same overall weight and height.