Today I am talking about a decorating technique that you definitely want in your repertoire; using risers.

What is a riser?  I am so glad you asked!

A riser is any item, or collection of items that is used to raise décor pieces or tabletop buffet items within your home.

When used properly, risers aren’t really noticed, but rather they become the elevator that makes the décor item stand out to be shown in its best light. In other words, the riser isn’t the star of the show, just a prop to create symmetry, balance or interest.

If you look closely, in most commercial settings as well as popular decorating catalogs, you will notice a variety of items used as risers. Without risers, the displays would lack dimension and would appear flat.  Risers allow you to waterfall items from back to front, creating more merchandising real estate space.  Similarly in a home environment, risers allow the eye to flow naturally from item to item in a lyrical way.

Sometimes, risers can be used to create balance. In our master bedroom, our nightstands are the same wood tone, but different in style and height.  I love the fact that the nightstands don’t match.  What I don’t love is that once lamps are placed on them, one is 4-5 inches taller than the other one.  It appears unbalanced.  Enter the risers.  On my side of the bed, I put three books under my lamp and voila, the lamps are the same height and all is well.

As stated, risers can also be used to elevate items for no other reason than to draw attention to them. On a table you might have a lamp, a plant and a candle.  The lamp would most likely be the tallest item, followed by the plant and the candle.  By raising the plant up, it more naturally fills the gap between the three items.  Without realizing it, this makes the entire table more pleasing to the eye.

Another great use for risers is in centerpieces on dining or entry tables. By having items that alternate between high, low, and everything in between, the pieces flow naturally.

The same concept can be used when serving a buffet at home. By raising and lowering the various dishes, it makes them easier to reach and also creates a more harmonious food display.

So understanding why you need risers is probably easy. Now which items make good risers?  Some of my favorites are books; the older and crustier the better.  The exception to this rule is in the kitchen where many of my favorite cookbooks are put to use as risers.  My husband often asks me why I keep buying all of the latest Barefoot Contessa and Pioneer Woman cookbooks, when I rarely use their recipes.  Honey, that’s just silly.  For risers, of course!

Cutting boards, either stacked small ones or larger ones used individually, work well in the kitchen. While we don’t smoke cigars, there are amazingly beautiful cigar boxes out there that also make perfect risers.

For buffet service, obviously cake plates are the perfect, and perhaps original, elevator. You can also create your own cake plate-type riser by taking a dinner place and placing it on top of an inverted bowl. Easy.

Wooden boxes, antique suitcases, wine crates, slabs of wood with a live edge, terra cotta pots, trays, and of course books of all sizes and colors, make great risers. Antique stores are a treasure trove of unusual items that can be used, and I’m sure you already have a stash of items you can bring out of hiding and use as well.

If your table décor is coming off a little flat, try using a riser to elevate an item or two. I promise, the results will be “uplifting.”

Good tidings,



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