Accessorizing – The Design Guy Shares his “How To”

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We love accessories and personal collections, and are often asked to come out to a client’s home and “do” their accessories. It’s one of our favorite requests, and after we’re finished we are thrilled when they say they love what we’ve done.

The fact is you can “do it” yourself. Really! You can recreate your own Getty Villa if that’s your desire! Here’s how…

Coffee table accessorizing

Pull out your trove of treasures!

Accessorizing Your Space

First, we like to shop at your house. Hopefully you’ve pulled your beloved things out of closets and drawers and have them at the ready. Don’t be sheepish about what to show us. It’s okay to be sentimental, it shows us who you are, and your home should reflect just that, not the designer.

Next we organize your treasures in one of two ways:

We group ‘like’ things together. Like things may be pieces that are made from the same materials such as all tortoise shell pieces, or same genre, like decorative boxes, or magnifying glasses.

white bowls grouped together

Like things together

Or, we throw caution to the wind and use our own sense of balance and scale. You can put disparate things together as long as they are in physical balance and scale to one another. Nothing is more pleasing to the eye than a harmonious grouping arranged by staggering height, width, texture and color. There is a bit more skill needed when opting for the later, but innately our mind works on balance so trust yourself and give this a try.

end table with potted plant and hourglass

Use your own sense of balance and scale.

Add a Base or Pedestal: Sometimes we have a wonderful object that’s just too small to stand on its own and fails to make the desired impact or will get lost in the mix. We often add a base or pedestal to a piece to increase height or weight. When highlighted, the base lends additional importance. Choose glass, wood, resin, stone or even a stack of books. Decorative boxes also make great bases and offer the ability to store those annoying remote controls!

pottery and blown glass vase.

A clear crystal base adds importance to this collection of pottery and blown glass vase.

 

Etruscan glass vase

An Etruscan glass vase is given prominence with the addition of a base at the Getty Villa in Malibu.

 

large bone box on gold table

A large bone box is used as a base to unite three disparate objects: A porcelain vase, a bronze dish, and a Tigers Eye box.

 

Books as Accessories: We love books! A stack of attractive books is great as accessories and it’s another way to display your favorites. Stack them flat, with the spine facing the viewer. Using the books as a tableau, then add a few smaller accessories to the top of the stack, and voila, you have a tableau! Also use a stack of books to raise an under sized lamp. Of courses books aren’t just decorative, they are a window to your soul. From literary to decorative coffee table tomes, or a stack of antique leather bound classics – they’re all wonderful (except for college textbooks which you should have sold at the end of the school year).

A book and a bone box are elevate a simple white vase.

A book and a bone box are used to elevate a simple vase.

 

set of books featuring black and white dust jackets

A set of books featuring black & white dust jackets complements a stack of antique black leather dishes.

The Rule of 3: Rules are for breaking, but generally, arranging accessories in groups of three works best especially when they are smaller objects. For larger objects, we often like matched pairs; symmetry equals calm.

pair of lamps and a pair of ottomans

A pair of lamps and a pair of ottomans continue the sense of calm of this art photograph by Bill Dewey.

 

three antique inlaid boxes cand lamp table tableaux.

A collection of three antique inlaid boxes completes an lamp table tableaux.

Three objects unified by a book

Three objects unified by a book used as a base.

 

white lamp on light wood table with three books

Balancing two artworks and a stack of books with this lamp includes using an adjacent wall niche.

What and where to Accessorize: Bookcases are obvious candidates, as are table tops, but what about the fireplace mantle? If the mantle is an important architectural element in the room, less may be more, but have it your way and have fun with it.

large antiquity bust, renaissance style painting, found objects on stands and an oversize framed pencil drawing.

A large antiquity bust holds court with a renaissance style painting, found objects on stands and an oversize framed pencil drawing.

A pair of modern Lamps, vintage African feathered headdress and a collection of boxes

A pair of modern Lamps keep company with a vintage African feathered headdress and a collection of boxes

mirror is accented by a lamp and a collection of like colored accessories and flowers

A mirror is accented by a lamp and a collection of like colored accessories and flowers.

Adding an interesting artful vase, or two, which can look great without flowers, or add them to change with the seasons or occasion. Add a decorative box to store matches for practicality.

Accessorizing tables, and not just the table top. The table top is the premiere location to show your collections but what if you have a gangly, leggy table? First bring the table – or the space it occupies- into balance or nothing will look good on it. Consider adding a smaller table, trunk, or bench underneath it to fill the outsized void around the legs.

bench helps fill the void underneath leggy table.

An interesting bench helps fill the void underneath this leggy table.

We sometimes use floor pillows stacked underneath the table in order to give it some heft, and it’s a great place to store extra seating.

A stack of floor pillows under a table

A stack of floor pillows can be used as extra seating.

Key Points

  • Pull out all your trove of treasures!
  • Group Like things together
  • Use your own sense of balance and scale
  • Remember its your home, not a showroom so let it reflect you and your personality
  • Throw pillows are an inexpensive and great way to inject color and new life into your room

There are so many ways to make a home reflect you and your style, and displaying your personal collections and accessories allows the guest and viewer to know you better. Show your stuff!

For a personal in-home consultation to discuss your interior design and decorating needs, please call Cabana Home Santa Barbara 805.962.0200, or Cabana Home San Francisco 415.383.0201.

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