Western Living stylist Nicole Sjostedt shares her trade secrets as part of Western Living Design Week’s Conversation Series at Oakridge Centre.

We keep our resident stylist Nicole Sjostedt pretty busy—curating looks for home features one minute and producing our monthly trend pages and food spreads the next. This week she also found time to be part of our Western Living Design Week Conversation Series, and share some of her trade secrets with the public at Oakridge Centre.Rule number one of being a next-level home stylist? Pack a secret weapon, or in Sjostedt’s case, six secret weapons:paulig rugs for warmth

1. Textured Rug and/or Pouf

“I’m a huge fan of Paulig hand-woven rugs and poufs simply for adding softness and texture to a space. The flooring sets the tone of a room and adding a softness to spaces that have harder elements can change a space entirely.”Muuto Felted bin (available at Vancouver Special, Mint Interiors and Espace d).

2. The Felt Box

“I adore this product. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone into a space and all it needed was a quick fix: of a small bit of texture and a tidy way to clear away little knickknacks or magazines, throws, toys, board games.”Knitted throws are great for layering and adding texture to a space. (Available at Nineteen Ten Home Boutique on Main Street in Vancouver.)

3. One Great Throw

“I’m a big advocate for adding texture to spaces. I feel it warms a room or gives another element to an object, chair, bed etc. Although I tend to stay neutral, most of the time, this is an accessory that could be the perfect item to add in colour. I know this summer I was working on an ad campaign for a furniture company and we were doing up this amazing bed in these lush cream linens. After getting it all set up and perfect I stepped back for a look and felt the space was missing some depth. We played around with these tone on tone pillows, faux fur coverlets etc., we added a metallic basket. I then realized it was colour that was missing and we threw in this incredible wrinkled raw linen chartreuse throw and there was the perfect shot! It’s like walking out the door in an all black outfit and then throwing on a colourful scarf that makes your entire look.”

Our expert stylist shows off the rule of thirds with this marble trend setup. See the three candles and three bowls? (Photo by Eydís Einarsdóttir. Produced by Nicole SjÖstedt.)

4. Work in Odd Numbers

“Where in most cases people say odd numbers are trouble, I find “odds” are a dream. For some reason this was the year of shelves for me. Going into these incredible spaces and seeing these fantastic built-ins and basically tearing down and building back up. I found myself working in one, threes or fives. Three stacked coffee table books on one shelf or three books, a frame, and a small mirrored box or vase, a single long, larger oval ceramic bowl on the shelf. If it’s a one, then the object needs to own that space—but not take over the entire built-in—so keeping in theme and keeping it balanced is key (ceramic, glass or metallic are all great fillers).”(Photo by Pooya Nabei. Fashion styling: Joanna Kulpa. Hair/Makeup: Sonia Leal-Serafim. Prop styling: Nicole Sjöstedt.)

5. Real Flowers

“I was on a shoot this past spring for Vancouver magazine. We were shooting in the Vancouver Club and there was this incredible mantle over this huge fire place. We had brought in this white, neutral, linen-covered furniture to seat all these glamorous individuals who were dressed in formal ball gowns and tuxedos. The room was very blue, black, and grey—very regal and art deco-like. And I have to say that no sequin ball gown, no incredible piece of furniture could have done the job of a bunch of pink peonies. Just stunning! It added just enough life to warm the entire picture.”“Keep it simple. I often stick with simple arrangements of one or two types of florals. I love tropical leaves as I find they are super interesting, but not over the top. I love blue hydrangeas in a bunch, for me that’s a bit of life right there. I find they have this sort of comforting feel and such great texture—especially against a light wood and in a super modern space as it’s unexpected. We generally associate modern simple lines with an orchid and I see a lot of that, but I love how a hydrangea adds this down-to-earth feel. It’s less intimidating and more comforting.”(Photo by Martin Tessler. Styling by Nicole Sjöstedt.)

Final Pro Tip: Juxtaposition

“I love to layer things, from my clothing, to my dishware, to my bed linens. I find that when things look too tidy and neat that you lose the sense that someone actually lives here. It’s taken me a long time to learn the art of ‘Juxtaposition.’ It’s hard placing things side by side, or mixing it up and layering colours or textures. I know that when styling a home, I tend to love order and uniformity, but in reality life is never like that. We shift, we layer and I’ve learned to take a throw and literally throw it over the couch arm and be OK with that. I’ve stacked dishes on a shelf and turned them on a angle to be just a bit off-centre. I’ve placed pillows on the ground and layered them over top of each other next to the couch rather than on the couch. I like to take a smooth, shiny surface and add a seaglass matte vase in the corner. It draws your eye in and makes you interested in the details.”

Western Living Design Week Conversation Series

For more great tips, check out our talented lineup of speakers at our live Conversation Series on now through Tuesday, September 29 at Oakridge Centre’s West Galleria.