Shadow Play: Monochromatic Reception Styling with Steve Cordony

— Reception Decor Styling

Like a black and white photograph, a monochromatic styling palette holds a lasting timelessness; a classic and bold base for events that emanate elegance. For reception styling, we love the colorless combination of ebony and milk, onyx and snow; exploring the depths of varying grays for tonal accents that heighten interest.

When pulling back with color, there’s room to push forward with intriguing materials, textures, dimensions and layers in new and curious ways. Adding elements that are tactile, and touchable creates an adventure for the senses, forcing eyes to look at each piece again in a new light, encouraging fingertips to reach forward and feel all that’s in front of them. Contrast soft, rough and earthy textures with the polish of crystal glassware, glazed ceramics and cool marble. Introduce opulence through luxuriously weighted items, metallics and subtle nods to the renaissance era.

When applying monochromatic decor styling to a reception space, there are a few tricks to introduce the necessary light and shade, avoiding a one-dimensional look. We asked Sydney-based interior and events styling expert Steve Cordony for his top 5 tips on adding drama and differentiation to an uncolored event, and where brides can source the best styling and décor elements for their own wedding:

Stick to traditional meets contemporary

Steve Cordony: The monochromatic scheme is a strong look, but it allows you to play with details including shade. In terms of the palette, I like to use black, white, a pop of green and gray for add another tone. Crisp white will always, always work best. For the event’s overall look, I go for traditional meets contemporary. Bringing in emblems and heritage elements against stark, clean, white heralds back to still lifes and European paintings – but don’t get too “theme-ey” – if you’re getting lost go back to traditional meets contemporary.

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Introduce florals

Steve Cordony: Black gray and white is a strong palette, so mixing in the freshness of greenery really livens up the entire room. Keep it simple and try to keep it all in the same family – use one type of flower or three, or a big variety en masse. Greenery against crisp white is super beautiful and also brings the outdoors in. It’s lush and fresh and you can play with structure and shape. Green trick carnation – carnations really are back by the way – you can group together for a beautifully structural look. Green or white hydrangeas can be used to create forms, like mounds, directly on the table. White blooms are a no-brainer, they’re always perfect for any type of styling. Elephant ears are ideal for installations, and I also love hellebore. Grouped together, they add softness, they’re textural and they’re tactile.

Play with textures and finishes

Steve Cordony: Play with the textures and shapes – introduce interesting, geometric forms and rough and soft surfaces. I love this look so much because it’s strong, but it gives you the freedom to play Contrast between matte and high gloss, and be careful with going too gloss as it can become a little 80s and 90s. Little touches such as frayed edges on linen napkins, jute rugs, dinnerware glazed on one side – so when you move it you feel the texture – they add so much. It’s about finding a balance between sleek and imperfection. A classic way to introduce shine is by using metallics, I like to use all gold although I’m not afraid to mix metallics – my favorites are brushed gold and brass together.

Think about mood and lighting

Steve Cordony: Dimming lights and using candles and warm lighting is always better – it warms the room and always makes food appear even more appetizing. That’s a little-known industry tip, you can actually make food more appealing just by using soft lighting. By lowering the lights, you set a decadent ambiance for the evening, people relax more and everyone looks always looks their best in candlelight too.

Be unpredictable

Steve Cordony: Sometimes it’s a handwritten place card or agate quartz coasters – those little, surprising and well-thought-out elements are what can really make a difference to an event. Everyone likes to get a surprise, so add something that will wow your guests – even if it’s tiny, it’s what people will remember. 

Steve Cordony’s favorite styling sources that brides can use too:

Becker Minty / Waterford / Wedgwood / Peters of Kensington / Bohemia Crystal / Pure Linen / Cultiver / Westbury Textiles / EM Greenfield / Café Culture + Insitu / Trudon

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