Thursday, August 19, 2010

Accessories, Accessories, Accessories

When it comes to real estate, any good realtor will introduce you to their industry mantra "Location, Location, Location". When it comes to a well designed room accessories play such a key role, that we ought to make that the design world mantra.....maybe not, try saying it three times fast! Accessories are what give a room personality and provide that finishing touch, just like well chosen jewelry to an outfit. I like using what people have collected on their travels, since they mean something to them, and so the room doesn't appear to be straight from a catalog. You don't want everything to be matchy matchy because that robs the room of character. Groupings of photographs of friends and family in frames of different shapes and sizes is always a great way to add character to the room, keep in mind that there should be a common factor to this grouping to make it more pleasing to the eye...maybe all the frames could be silver, or all the photos done in black and white. When grouping framed photographs, try staying away from 8x10 sizes, which may feel a bit too large sometimes.

Pewter Frames available at

Another rule of thumb for grouping or clustering objects is to stick with odd numbers. For example if you are grouping candlesticks on a mantle, try using one tall, one medium, and one short for a more interesting look. Low baskets or trays are a great way to display a bunch of dissimilar items together and make them cohesive and feel special.

Some of my favorite accessories to use in a room are books, they are relatively inexpensive and a great way to incorporate a clients personality and preferences. You always want to give the appearance of books collected over time, so stay away from color coordinating the spines. Instead alternate the colors for a richer look. Keep in mind that the arrangement is more pleasing to the eye when the books are not lined up on the shelves. Try standing some up, while laying a few down, adding frames and other objects to give a more personal feel instead of a "library" look.

Candles are a great way to bring in some lighting and ambience in the room. Try using scented candles but stick to whites and creams so they are not demanding your attention. Display them in hurricane shades or clustering them on a tray in different heights instead of scattering them about the room. There are great options on the market for wickless candles so you never have to worry about them being a fired hazard.

Fresh flowers are a must in any room, just a simple arrangement of calla lilies is enough to liven up a room.

I usually have trouble convincing my male clients that no room is complete without a couple of pillows in the sofas and chairs; they just can't visualize it until they see the finished product. Pillows and throws are a great way to bring color into the room, and the feeling of homeyness and comfort, especially if you are working with a leather sofa. Just keep in mind that there needs to be comfortable space to sit. Here are some great options from Surya that will set the tone for a beautiful room.

My biggest pet peeve is a room without proper lighting. There needs to be various types of lighting such as an overhead fixture on a dimmer switch for general lighting, lamps for task lighting, accent lighting for adding visual interest to art or a houseplant or to highlight a special texture on a wall, and ambient lighting to create different moods in the room.

Finally, please resist the temptation of overdoing it! If it looks like it's too much, then it's too much! On my decorating projects, I always take more accessories than I think I need. Even though I've done this tons of times, you don't know how a room is going to turn out until you are there. Just remember to keep your receipts for those inevitable returns. Check out these photos and be inspired.

Here are links to finding some of the beautiful items shown above

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Wallpaper is back and better than ever!

After taking a backseat to paint and decorative faux painting techniques, wallpaper is back and better than ever. Gone are the busy toile patterns and country florals  which have been replaced by nature inspired patterns, bold geometrics and classic chinoiserie patterns. Grasscloth is one in particular that has come a long way since the seventies. Wallpaper is a great way to pull a room together and add dimension. Today's look is more natural and textured in muted colors, or even subtle asian influences like leafy bamboo motifs. de Gournay is one company who's got it right, with elegant chinoiserie and japanese and korean styles. Also Clarke and Clarke, with their bold and whimsical patterns. Seabrook has a great line of grasscloth called Elements of Nature in beautiful colors and textures. Check out these pictures and links and you will agree that wallpaper is a safe bet for your next design project.