How to Style a Console or Buffet

How to Style a Console

Choosing furniture can be intimidating, but often we think the hardest part of the decorating process is adding the accessories and finishing touches. It can be hard to know when something is just right. What sort of accessories work with my furniture pieces? Is this too much? Not enough? We’re here to break down the details.

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that ‘styling’ a console, or adding accessories to finish the look, is very subjective business. It’s all about what looks best to your eye, and while there are certainly some guidelines we keep in mind, what is perfect to you might feel bare or too busy for someone else. And that’s ok!

To style a console, start with symmetrical furniture arrangement

Symmetry is Key

Symmetry is a very important thing to keep in mind when you’re designing your space and certainly when you’re adding the final touches. Symmetry is simply pleasing to the eye, so it’s always a great bet to start with a balanced, symmetrical space before adding the finishing touches.

In the vignette above, we started with our Rossi Huntboard which we love for it’s height. A taller piece is actually great for serving, and we like bringing furniture pieces into the room at aren’t all at the same level. Your dining table is most likely at standard table height of 30 inches, so bring in a piece that’s slightly taller.

Next, we added lacquered chairs, a pair of lamps, and a pair of pillows. Then we anchored the whole thing with a piece of art. Our general rule of thumb is to choose an art piece that is about 2/3 the width of the furniture it’ll be hanging over, and our Anemones at Dusk Print fits the bill perfectly.

So now that your foundation is in place, it’s time to add the last pieces.

With a very symmetrical space, add in one element that is off center for more interest

With a space that has large foundation pieces already, like the one above, you really won’t need all that many accessories. But of course every surface needs something, even if it’s subtle.

For this arrangement, we chose a stack of books and a small tabletop sculpture. The important thing about this small stack is that it’s off-center. With a setup that’s so very symmetrical, you always want to add in something that’s off center.

How to style a console or buffett

Balance with Height

Of course, a perfectly symmetrical arrangement isn’t always the answer. In the room above, we used just one lamp on the right side of the console, but we balanced the height of the lamp with a maidenhair fern on a stack of books on the left. This teaches us an important lesson, when you start arranging things, always remember to balance objects that take up a lot of visual space.

How to style a console or buffett

You don’t necessarily need a pair of items, but two things of equal visual weight will help your tabletop feel polished. Perhaps you have a set of tall candlesticks. They don’t necessarily need to be on either side of your mantel or console. Place them next to each other on the same side, then use a tall orchid on the other side to balance the height of the candlesticks.

How to style a console or buffett

Create Groupings

We tend to like a more scaled back arrangement on a console table, especially since you’ll often need to clear it off when you’re using it to serve food or drinks. You don’t want to have to move a dozen little trinkets every time you have friends over.

But with that said, a couple of small pieces, like a grouping of quills are the perfect solution when you need a little extra oomph.

One of our favorite things to use when styling up a console table is an orchid. They have great height which balances art pieces beautifully and they last for weeks so you don’t always need to be refreshing your flowers. Plus, they’re sculptural shape adds interest and movement.


Now, let’s talk about color for a quick second. We certainly don’t expect every element to match perfectly, but it is a good idea to choose some sort of palette and keep things in that vein. In this space, we chose a warm color palette with reds, oranges, golds, and taupes. Nearly everything in the space echoes the color palette, but because it doesn’t all ‘match’ it feels layered instead of contrived.

In this first space we showed you, you can see how the pillows, books, and lamps were chosen in colors pulled from the art piece. If you don’t know wear to start, choose a rug or piece of art you really love and go from there.

Find tips for styling a bookcase and tips for styling your coffee table. Or browse more ideas on our Pinterest boards.

Did our hints help you decide on the best top treatment for your drapery? Tell us in the comments below.

Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.


  1. Reply


    November 21, 2023

    Caroline, do you consult with clients? I bought a Buffett at Ballard Design. Need advise. Thanks
    Maggie Houston

    • Reply

      Kelley Bostian

      January 25, 2024

      Hi Maggie,

      Caroline doesn’t offer design consultation services, but if you send your decorating question to she would be happy to help answer it during the “decorating dilemma” segment at the end of every weekly episode!

      Happy Decorating,

  2. Reply

    Marion Sluder

    May 15, 2018

    I have a tall buffet how do1 1i I decorate it

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      May 15, 2018

      All of these tips would be applicable to a tall buffet! Hopefully you’ve found it helpful.
      Best of luck.

  3. Reply

    Tee Golden

    March 30, 2017

    Love the ideas ….for a novice it’s fine …ouch Sweden.

  4. Reply


    December 24, 2016

    I love the Anemones at Dusk print. It’ beautiful.

  5. Reply


    November 12, 2016

    Love the ideas! Thanks for helping this simple-minded American find easy, beautiful ways to decorate our home. ❤️

  6. Reply

    Gloria Kollmer

    September 10, 2016

    Enjoyed the tips on design. Everything was so beautiful and colorful

    • Reply

      How to Decorate

      September 12, 2016

      Thank you so much, Gloria. We are so thrilled you enjoyed this post 🙂

  7. Reply

    Elke Tinter-Hollander

    September 9, 2016

    Perhaps ,you should take a look outside the USA, for decorating ideas! You keep showing the same old,same old ! I find it frustrating. I am a born Swede, and want to decorate my house with more taste and not see the same decor, you provide. Life us not symmetric , neither should you alwsys place two lamps or two chairs,rigjt and left of your buffet. I am so very bosred with your ideas, very narrow minded and fitting only simple minded Americans.

    I am here living for a while with Elke, my sister. But I will soon begin building my own home, I am Anke, desperately searching for quality as well as European
    Schick and Presentation.
    Please, bring someone on board to fullfil the need we Europeans look for.
    TAK,THANK YOU. Anke Jorgensonn

  8. Reply

    Helen Perry

    September 5, 2016

    Thank you for the information. Paragraph 4, sentence one should read its, not the contraction.

    • Reply

      How to Decorate

      September 15, 2016

      Thank you, we’ve fixed it!