There are many elements of good design that go into choosing the appropriate accessory-style, color, size, proximity to other accessories and a sense of balance – are all needed. It takes time and sometimes trial and error. What looks good in the store may not necessarily have the same effect in your home. Many times professionals need to be called in to complete a room successfully.
Accessories generally fall into the category of functional and decorative. Functional accessories are objects that not only look good while complimenting chairs, tables and other furniture, but are also filling a need. Such functional accessories are lighting fixtures, fireplace equipment, clocks, mirrors, decorative hardware, vases, books and pillows. When well selected, they lend a personal touch and appear to blend well with their environment. When ill-chosen, they will either fail to create the needed compliment to a completed whole or worse, attract your eye as a negative force.
Decorative accessories are provided more for appearance than functional need. They often fill other more psychological needs. Plants and art, (paintings and sculpture) fall into this category. The nesting instinct and the “desire to acquire” are fulfilled, making your home a reflection of your own personal good taste, as well as a place to live and hang your hat.
Collectables also make wonderful accessories and personalize a space. The very word defines the acquisitional need in many of us. Whether collecting bottle caps, baseball cards or dolls when we were kids, or the very same when we got older, for different reasons (perhaps to recapture our past childhood), people love to collect things from their travels, as well as their personal interests or hobbies. Such items may be of monetary value or not, but they are important to the collector. Showcasing collections is the challenging part and should be made to compliment the rest of the décor while not overshadowing it.
The world of art is a vast and beautiful one to explore as you accessorize. Whether your interest is paintings (traditional to contemporary in oils, watercolors or other media) or sculpture (bronzes to woods to three-dimensional objects made from garden tools), art has been with us through the ages from prehistoric cave paintings (telling the story of daily life through pictures) to the abstract world of collages and non-representative shapes and forms. Posters, lithographs and serigraphs are also considered other art forms. Whether the collection is worthy of being displayed in a museum or not, art is generally selected more for personal taste than investment. Although people enjoy the quest as well as the result, such accessories lend a special touch to a home.
Art does not have to “match” the décor. In truth, such accessories seem to lose their artistic value rather than enhance the space when they “match”. They should be appropriately placed, sized well for the selected wall, and hung at the right height for viewing. If the color values blend, that is an added plus. Form can coordinate with the furniture style, but need not. For example, a fine collection of contemporary art does not look out of place in a traditional home.
In hanging artwork, the rule of thumb has been to hang it at eye level when standing, but many designers and professionals prefer to place them slightly above eye level when seated. Generally, this is no more than 8” –10” above sofas or low units such as consoles, credenzas or tables. This not only enables the art to be viewed more effectively, but creates a cohesive arrangement with the furnishings surrounding it.