Design advice for your home.

Accessories 101

I can honestly say that as an Interior Designer, I love my job. There is nothing more rewarding than placing the finishing touches on a room and seeing it all come together. That is why I love placing the accessories. For me accessories are “jewelry for the home.” They are the final finishing touches that add personality, style, texture, and color.

After the room has been painted and the basic bones have been put in place, accessories bring the space to life by completing the overall look and giving the space that finished appearance. Selecting and arranging finishing touches is the most rewarding aspect of decoration, for in the details lies the essence of a room’s style and character.

Accessories can include lamps, pottery, throw rugs, figurines, clocks, artwork, pillows, greenery, boxes, baskets, artifacts, china, brackets and much much more.These items can be from the client’s own collections or new pieces that have been purchased.

Accessories are not to be taken for granted. Everything from waste baskets and tissue boxes to family photographs and home office supplies can be carefully arranged and pleasingly presented.

Accessorizing your home can go a long way in adding to its overall appeal. One of the most important tips, in this regard, is to get rid of the clutter completely. You might add the most beautiful pieces of artwork or the most endearing display of flowers, but if there is clutter all around, they would be hardly noticeable.

Home accessories make a space functional, fun or dramatic depending upon your style. Rather than throwing all types of accessories bought on impulse, start out with a plan. Home accessories bring a room together and should serve a purpose to balance the color scheme, the scale of the room and enhance the theme of the room.

Start by cutting out inspirational pictures from magazines. Then make a list of the sizes and shape of the things you think you need and get color samples from the paint store to match the colors you will be shopping for. This is a lot easier and a lot more portable than dragging a pillow or a picture around with you to the store.

You do not have to shop at the most trendy and expensive stores for the great accessories. Shop in those places to get some great ideas and then make a trip to your discount stores to see if there is anything similar for sometimes a third of the price. You might even find something that you like better and your budget will always go further if you are economical on the accessories. Save your bigger bucks for durable furniture or fabulous artwork that will really make an impact.

Thrift and antique stores are great places to find unique accessories. Repurposing everyday items as showpieces not only adds interest but a conversation piece as well.
Stay away from cutesy and too much matchy-matchy as well. Too many people make the mistake of conglomerating one look all over the house. Craft shows can inspire an impulse purchase, but how many wooden cows really work in a home? Beware of overloading yourself with too many small accessories. Vary the size and shape and pay attention to the theme of the room.

But make sure to personalize it, there is nothing worse than a home that cannot be used, sat in, or touched. No one wants to live in a showroom. Your home should be a representation of the people who live there. Your friends and family should walk in and immediately recognize your personal style, not a copy of some celebrity style. So make sure to include family photos, heirloom pieces, and favorite items that make you smile when you look at them.

One of the biggest mistakes people make when accessorizing is hanging artwork too high. Make sure to hang pictures at eye-level, but that eye-level should be seating eye-level. Since everyone’s standing eye level is different, husbands that means you! This will bring the artwork low enough to enjoy it. This will allow the artwork to be a few inches above the backs of sofas, or a few inches above dressers or cabinets. There is nothing worse than having artwork floating in the air and the only thing you can see is the bottoms of the frames. Bring the artwork “into” the seating area by making sure they are hung close to the furniture grouping. When making a gallery of family photos, use similar frames and matting, hang the artwork close together and use an imaginary line of 36” off the floor to start your gallery, this way they will be seen.

Also remember to add artwork that supports the style of the space. You don’t want the artwork to contradict the rest of the surroundings and cause the eye to become distracted. Artwork can also be arranged on easels for flexibility and added interest.

When arranging accessories its best to group “like” items together creating a collection. Collections stand out and make a stronger statement than scattering the items throughout the room. It is better to group your figurines or candlesticks together so that you can enjoy them as a whole instead of having them scattered around the house getting unnoticed. Pay attention to heights, when creating small vignettes. Varying heights adds interest as well as texture. It is also always best to group items in odd numbers unless you want a more formal look, then symmetry is the way to go.

Curtains and rugs, though never thought of in terms of accessories, can do a lot to add the perfect look to your house. If you have too much solid color in your house, they can help break it up and define seating arrangements especially in an open floor plan.

Mirrors and reflective objects are a great way to add sparkle. Use them to add dimension, expand space or reflect light in a room.

Accessories can be a wonderful way to add color especially for those that are afraid to put color on walls or furnishings. Accessories can also be changed seasonally and allow you to try out different styles without costing a fortune. However make sure to use the same two or three colors throughout the room: one main color, a secondary color and a third bold color to be used sparingly. Some of the best accessories are really used to bring colors, textures or scale of the room into balance. A neutral color scheme can pop with two red pillows. Wooden furniture that does not match can make sense if accessories of the same color are placed somewhere else in the room for balance. A dark chair in a room with light furniture can work if dark baskets or pottery grace the room.
Don’t forget to think proportion when purchasing accessories. Large spaces require large accessories. Tiny little tabletop objects will get lost with really high ceilings and large items can overpower a small space.

Finally, avoid over-doing it. If your eyes don’t catch everything when you first sweep the room, there may be too much for the eyes to focus on. Try removing a few items. If you have too many items you want to display, try rotating them so there’s always something “new” to look at but the room isn’t over-saturated.


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