The Playbook For The Modern Man

A Gentlemen’s Guide To Styling Surfaces


Whether it’s a shelf, coffee or side table that is looking rather bare, we have laid out a complete process for you to easily arrange punchy and show-stopping surface decor.

To really muster up a superb living space, surface styling adds a finishing touch that not only enhances your home’s character, but also has the potential to create ranges of little narratives that give a personal snapshot into your life, passions and interests. The layout of these clustered settings are also referred to as “vignettes”.

#1 First Base: The Tray


We’ve all got to start somewhere right? Essential for that currently bare coffee table of yours, the serving tray can be the first step to designing a flawlessly styled coffee table just like the magazines. Begin by going for a tray that is proportionately sized to your chosen surface: the coffee table should nicely border your new tray like a frame.


This tray will then frame its innards – the books, props and everything else. A tray can also be used on other surfaces in the house like bedside tables, however, we don’t recommend going crazy and tray-ing every surface in sight, so make sure to take a considered approach.

If you’re searching for a relaxed or tropical resort look head on over to Sentosa in Double Bay and go for their Rattan or Woven range. On the other spectrum, if you’re into more of a contemporary or polished look, hunt for a metal or marble tray, a range of options are easily available at Koskela in Alexandria.

#2 Well Versed: Books


Yes, you’ve heard the saying “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” – throw that straight out the window when it comes to your interior. Only ever display the books with covers that are good enough to be artworks. Luckily, there are a huge range of coffee table books with both excellent contents and covers. Just have a look at some options here.

Books are a great object to put on display, especially for your guests who can be entertained with a flick through while you’re preoccupied, conveniently giving away a slice of your interests for that extra impression.

Always stack books in order of their size. Coffee table books look great stacked with their cover facing up, stack about 3 books on top of your tray, coffee table, side board or even bedside table.


You can also stack books facing up on shelves, which is especially helpful if you don’t yet have a large collection of reading material, but ample shelf space.

#3 Weigh It Down: Sculptural Objects


Sculptural objects are much like exclamation points at the end of an astonishing sentence. When purchasing these objects, imagine you’re curating your very own small sculptural gallery. Sculptural objects, when bold enough, will be the anchor to your styled vignette and should always be propped on top of your stacked books. You can have a play around with varied heights of objects here.


These pieces are great at breaking up form. For example, go for rounded or organic shapes to prop on your linear shelving or rigid book stacks. You can also play with clustering a range of sculptural objects, grouping objects of the same material or shape.

#4 Be Shady: Lamps


Adding two lamps to a space to create a butterfly effect is essential when you’re looking for a cohesive and balanced design. You can add two lamps to either end of a side table or prop them on both of your bed side tables for a wholesome feel.

The height of the lamps will give you another element of interest and using the function of these lamps will of course allow you to create different moody settings.

Now go forth and spread those sexy surfaces about your man pad.



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The playbook for the modern man

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