All About Accessories (Interior Design)
Once you’ve got the bones of your house in order (cabinets, countertops, built-ins, larger pieces of furniture), the fun comes in arranging accessories. You can purchase new items, as well as dust off favorite heirlooms and life souvenirs.
Make a day of it: Pull all your accessories off of the shelves and walls and out of storage and pile them in the middle of a room. Then arrange them on your home’s clean slate for a whole new look.
Before you start, get inspired and make a plan with our guide to arranging accessories:
Tip: Like jewelry, home accessories should not be displayed all at once. Create a fresh look with certain items, and then put the rest back into storage. You’ll use them in the future when you’re ready for another change.
Arranging accessories by color can set the mood of a room. Consider choosing a color to represent a season. In winter group deep purples and blues. For a fresh start each spring, pull out all your white items. The impact of an entire room with same-color accessories is striking.
You can also take it down a notch and create a smaller display of same-color accessories on a bookshelf or tabletop.
Tip: Arranging by color utilizes a basic tenet of accessories, which is to group like items together. Find common ground between your pieces, whether it’s their color, design, or purpose, and discover a winning combination.
Layer on interest in a room by varying texture, height, size, and dimension. Say you want to group three white candles, for example: make sure one is tall, one is short, and one is carved with an intricate pattern.
For a dynamite display, mix standing items with a flat piece of art—a painting or a photograph. Arrange the standing pieces (candles, china, sculpture, what have you) on a dresser or a table that sits against the wall. Hang the art 8–10 inches above for a stunning collaboration.
Don’t forget the power of live items and anything shiny. Plants count as accessories, especially when paired with a pretty pot. Give a grouping a little bling by adding a small mirror or something metallic.
Tip: Accessories are a numbers game. Odd numbers are more appealing to the eye so stick with groups of three versus four, for example.
A collected display makes a major impact in a room. It can be anything: musical instruments, a certain type of pottery or china, a bunch of watering cans—you name it. Whatever the object, multiples work wonders when it comes to accessorizing.
Group the entire collection together on a bookcase, in a cabinet, or on a wall shelf. Stagger heights and utilize the “triangle theory”—zigzag pieces from front to back to create visual interest and depth, rather than placing them in a straight line. Be sure to give everything a little breathing room versus packing the items in tight.
Tip: If your collection is all one color, make it pop in a contrasting cabinet or bookshelf, for example a white pottery collection in a black cupboard.
Tired of your accessories, but want a fresh look? Think disposable. Items found in nature are beautiful displayed in the home and can be composted when the look gets tired (or overripe).
Flower arrangements are a given, but also consider fruits and vegetables, rocks, branches, acorns, and pinecones. Whatever you find in nature—or in the grocery store—can make a gorgeous display. We love the look of citrus fruits—oranges or lemons or limes—piled up in a clear bowl or hurricane vase.
Arrange branches in a vase to give height to a display. River stones and pinecones create a soothing, spa vibe.
Tip: For added interest, mix and match your natural elements. Fill a large seashell with mosses, pair tropical plants with conifers, and/or fill a bowl with pomegranates, red apples, and big, ruby grapes.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when assessing an entire room. Start with one small area such as a corner or a bookshelf. Designers think of these as “vignettes,” a fitting term if you consider each space a place to tell a story. For example:
- Make a literary corner with an arrangement of books that were influential on your life.
- Pay homage to your family with a corner dedicated to family photos all framed in a similar color.
- Light up an entryway: fill a tray with candles of the same color, but varying heights and textures.
- Create a living science lab with an area dedicated to objects found in nature.