Home Accessorizing Made Simple
Get the principles of displaying accessories down pat to give your home some soul!
Accessories are what give an interior soul and help distinguish a home from a furniture showroom. When accessories are done right, they tell the story of the owners’ lives — their passions, their travels … and maybe even their heartbreak. But accessorizing a house can be a scary thing. We’re often unsure what to include, what to leave out and how to arrange the things that remain. Fear not. Once you understand the principles, accessorizing can be a snap.
Look around your house, attic, basement and yard for potential accessories. Sometimes it’s not the thing itself, but how you display it, that counts. Common objects like stones, shells or pinecones make great accessories — if you gather enough of them and display them in an attractive bowl. Arrange costume jewelry on a tray or fill a bowl with decorative matchbooks. The next time you travel, skip the T-shirt shop and head for the antiques store, craft gallery or flea market. You’ll come home with something attractive and a story to go with it.
The bottom line: If you have fun with your accessories, your family and friends will get pleasure from them, too. Check out more tips and find more inspiration below.
Avoid placing like items at opposite ends of a fireplace mantel. (Imagine how dull this mantel would have been if one candlestick sat on each end.) Instead, rely on clusters of objects to balance one another. Propped and overlapped photographs feel more casual and curated than art that’s hung, and in this instance help unite the vignettes on either end of the mantel.
Arrange them in groups, combining items that share a similar palette, character or texture. Unless you’re dealing with a collection of identical objects, vary the size of the pieces and lean toward using an odd number for each vignette so things don’t get too symmetrical or matchy-matchy. Arrange the items in a pyramid, from highest to lowest, with the tallest object in back. If an item is small, group it with other small items on a tray or in a bowl. If it’s too low, set it atop a decorative box or books.
(Just keep the paperbacks in the bedroom or someplace inconspicuous.) If you don’t own books, buy some at a yard sale or library sale — they do wonders to warm up a room and are one of the cheapest accessories you can find.
Don’t forget the anchor. The tall candles on this coffee table anchor the arrangement and are surrounded by objects of descending size. Small items are grouped on a tray, so they have a collective presence. The bowl of apples works like fresh flowers — it makes this feel like a “living” arrangement and not something that was put here two years ago and never touched.
Pay attention to scale. Your arrangement shouldn’t be too big or too puny for the surface it’s on. And don’t feel like you have to fill every tabletop — the eye needs a chance to rest, too.
Since all three items on this coffee table are approximately the same size, the coral was set atop a stack of books to stagger the heights. Notice how the book jackets pick up the color of the vase and the seat cushion.
, whether it’s a unifying color, finish or texture. In this instance the figure, skull, box and bowl all share a similar color palette and sense of history — as does the tortoise shell on the coffee table.
t. Group items together on shelves or tabletops, or display them on a wall. (Unless the objects are valuable or delicate, avoid curio cabinets, which often look fusty and inhibit interaction.) Combining lots of like things gives them a collective weight that they wouldn’t have individually. The collections do not need to be things of great value, either, as shown by this display of straw hats.
Know that almost anything can look good if you group enough of them together. If you have a limited number of good pieces, toss in a few imposters; you can always replace the cheap examples with better ones as you acquire them.
If your room has a dominant accent color, echo it in the accessories to tie the room together. Here the orange of the walls is repeated in the vases, and even in some of the coral. On the foreground table, notice how a footed bowl gives the coral height and anchors the arrangement.
Here’s another instance where the accessories pick up the dominant accent color in the room and give your eye someplace to travel. The glass compotes on the coffee table make even ordinary objects look special.
Interior designer Jay Jeffers knows his way around an accessory! I like the way he used the sculpture to balance the lamp on the console table here, and the art grouping to balance the tall photograph and help bridge the distance between the furniture and the ceiling in what is obviously a tall space.
Be open to surprise. When an everyday object is taken out of context and treated as a work of art, it can take on special significance. Here an old scale has become part of a still life. I’ve seen people decorate with vintage microscopes, scissors — even old lawn sprinklers. The only limit is your imagination.
By: Fred Albert