In the last year, I have really started delving into the world of styling flat lays. I wanted to be able to showcase some of my work and have a creative outlet between weddings. Because I’m not a photographer, I was hesitant to even go down this path, but I’m so glad I did! This kind of creative opportunity has given me joy and brings new challenges (good ones!) to my business.
However, I quickly realized that I needed to build a styling bag of essential items that would allow me to be ready for designing when I had the craving. I also needed to familiarize myself with software, like Lightroom, to get the best image quality possible when I’m designing flat lays from home. Again, I’m not a professional photographer by any means, so I’m always seeking new tips on how to capture details on my own.
If you’re a fellow creative looking to add flat lay design to your life, I’m here to tell you that it is absolutely possible with a few basics. It will allow you to create content for YOURSELF that can help your craft stand out in a way that YOU want to portray it.
While you’re stuck at home, now is a great time to put together your own set of tools. I compiled this set of tried-and-true favorite essentials of mine. I also use a lot of these items for things other than styling. This toolkit stays with me on wedding days because it comes in handy for a lot of uses, from pinning stray bridesmaid hairs, to keeping signage from blowing over on a windy day!
The Styling Basics
Behind every beautiful flat lay, are a few important key mechanics. These items are all easily sourced and don’t have to cost you a lot of money.
- Twine, String or Clear Hanging Wire
- Push Pins
- Garden Shears: I got these from Etsy shop, Frog Goes to Market
- Glue Dots
- Calligraphy Pens: Have a variety of types, colors and tip thicknesses
- Bobby Pins
- Wire Snips
- Silk Ribbon: A variety of colors and widths are great to have. I love using silk ribbon because it’s light and airy, and lays much better than a grosgrain or stiff ribbon type. I also love the wooden spools! Some of my favorite shops are: Courtney Inghram, Silk and Willow, and Tono + Co.
- Ring Dishes: My 2 main essential ones are in this white ceramic set from Vumbaca White Ceramic.
- Wax Seals: Check out Artisaire to get some beautiful, generic ones!
- Floral Frogs: Whether using them in table designs on wedding days or using them as props in flat lays, the metal texture on them is so great. I also like using them to hold up day-of papers such as place cards and table numbers.
- Acrylic Styling Blocks: I have the 3-piece round set from Sourced Co. These blocks are just as pretty as they are functional. This set comes in different sizes and thicknesses, and they are perfect for creating height and dimension in your flat lays.
- Vintage Postage Stamps: My favorite Etsy shop for vintage stamps is Little Postage House. The shop, Red Little Vintage, is great for collecting vintage postcards and letters.
- Safety Pins
- Floral Adhesive and Floral Wire: I keep both of these in my back pocket on wedding days and styling sessions in case I need to tweak anything once the florist leaves.
- Sponge Pads: These are technically makeup remover pads, but I use them as risers like the acrylic blocks. They can be easily stacked for added height and are lightweight to carry around in your bag. I got mine on Amazon.
Additional Styling Tools
I love browsing antique shops for unique elements that I can add to my styling kit. On wedding days, I choose what I want to bring with me depending on the wedding aesthetic or styling concepts planned.
Thanks to Amazon and Etsy, you can also find many of these items without leaving home! I’ve sourced some of my favorite ring boxes from my couch!
No. 1 Ring Boxes
A mix of velvet boxes in various shapes and sizes will serve you well. It’s always nice to have options! In addition, I also added a vintage leather one to my collection. These tend to be very pricey ($200 and up), but you can find velvet boxes at affordable prices at places like Amazon and BHLDN.
You’ll find that having a mix of single and double ring box options will come in handy too. Sometimes it’s nice to display both the bride’s engagement ring and wedding band. You can even find triple boxes if you want to display the groom’s band as well. These tend to be a little bigger in order to accommodate all three rings.
I encourage my clients to invest in their own ring boxes that they can keep as family heirlooms and pass them down for generations. However, I also like to have some of my own basic ones in case my clients don’t have them on the wedding day.
If you are looking to splurge on a velvet box collection to keep in your styling kit, look no further than The Mrs. Box.
The Mrs. Box offers a styling set where you can select your colors and box preferences, but it will cost somewhere between $300 and $350 depending on the box size you select.
No. 2 Unique Dishes & Trays
When styling flat lays, it’s important to create dimension and add texture that will tie the overall look together.
The best way to do this is to start collecting various ring dishes and trays. I’m always keeping my eyes out for anything I can add to my kit. Some of my best basic finds have come from home stores like Crate & Barrel, West Elm and Target. I also love antique options like the ones below. Depending on the design aesthetic, I may want them polished or tarnished.
No. 3 Dress Hangers
One of my pet peeves is seeing a plastic or unattractive hanger in photos of the bride’s wedding dress. It’s such an important detail and should coordinate just as well as her shoes! Naturally, this may not be at the top of the bride’s priority list. By keeping a few in my bag on the wedding day, I can pull out just the right one if needed!
I recently snagged a few beautiful hangers from BHLDN. Having a variety to appeal to any wedding aesthetic was a priority for me.
These hangers also make great props in flat lays when styling the accessories.
No. 4 Styling Surfaces
I recently started purchasing styling mats to use in my flat lay designs. There are so many amazing small businesses making gorgeous products that are just as lovely as they are easily transportable! Here are some of my favorites that I have collected or are on my bucket list to collect.
- Locust Collection – textile (linen, wool & velvet) backdrops and styling mats – price ranges from $70 and up but most cost around $180
Images from Instagram @locustcollection
- Lindale Studios – hand-painted backdrops and styling mats – most are priced at $85 and custom options are available too
- JRD Art Shop – hand-painted backdrops and styling mats – new collection launches next week!
Images from Instagram @jrd_artshop
- Chasing Stone – handmade textured styling surfaces reminiscent of stone and plaster – priced at $145
Images from Instagram @chasingstone
If you don’t currently have the budget for these, it’s so simple to make your own! Visit your local fabric store and have them cut about a yard of each fabric you choose. I recommend linens and velvets. You can adhere them to canvas or foam core boards. You can also keep the fabric stored on hangers and pull them out on a flat surface each time you want to use them.
My suggestion is to apply the latter method for styling at home only. It can be difficult to transport your fabrics this way on wedding days without them wrinkling. I have also seen fellow creatives purchase long cardboard tubes to roll their fabric around for easier storage and transportation.
No. 5 Art & Specialty Items
Collecting pieces that inspire you during your travels or shopping sprees can be just the added touch your flat lays need to stand out. I am a sucker for hand-sketched art pieces as well as old trinkets, jewelry and perfume bottles. Vintage books and letters, sheets of music and fabric swatches are all great items to incorporate into flat lays as well. They add personality and an aged, sophisticated quality to the designs.
Ready, Set, Style!
I hope you found some inspiration to assemble your own styling essentials! Enjoy adding to your styling kit and creating beautiful work from the comfort of your own home!