Whether a large budget or small, fine furniture or not, accessories give a room personality and are the finishing touches that turn a furniture collection into a lovely and gracious home. Often, people don’t consider the cost for these finishing touches in their overall budget plan or think they are of minor importance, but nothing can be further from the truth. They must be chosen with care, for they will surely make the difference.
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 also fill a need. Some 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 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, (as in “What were they thinking?”)
Decorative accessories are more for appearance than function. But 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.
Collectibles 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 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.
Groupings have become popular again. If you are unsure of how to place the pieces, use the floor! Lay out all the objects on the floor in the same amount of space as on the wall. Move the pieces until they create a pleasing and unified presentation. Measure their locations and then hang them. If you want to be very sure, take a large piece of paper and trace the location of the pieces, marking where the wires will fall to the bottom of your picture hook. (Using two hooks together enables the art to hang better). Then put the paper on the wall with easy to remove masking tape. Put up all hooks in marked locations. Remove the paper and hang the artwork in the designated spots.
There are also special moldings that can be placed at the ceiling to enable art to be hung by wire or fish line on mirror, irregular stone surfaces, or where a collection will be relocated or changed often. This gives great flexibility without damaging your walls.
Plants, trees and floral arrangements are lovely and needed accessories, bringing in a little of the outside. Plants add warmth and a sense of artistic beauty to a space whether they are the real thing, petrified or artificial. Silk are great, but dried is not so good according to Feng Shui. If they are real, water and feed them! If they are not maintained, their beauty is lost. If they are artificial, make sure they don’t look plastic or they will do more harm than good to the décor. Live plants and trees and professional arrangements on tables, in entryways and alongside furniture often provide the finishing touch to complete a room.
So-how do you start to accessorize? After the basic furniture is placed in the room, look at the wall space and empty spaces in bookcases, display cabinets and on tables. Certain areas need a focal point to unify the furniture setting. Go shopping at home first! Are there pieces you would like to display that you’ve always loved or have been in the family for a long time? Do you have a hobby or interest that has made you a “collector”? Perhaps it’s old trains or dolls, or pen knives or owls. Perhaps its photos you’ve taken of your travels or posters you’ve collected from various museums. As long as they are presented and framed well, they make excellent accessories.
When shopping for art, go to several galleries and shops. Learn about the art form and the artist. Don’t be hasty, but don’t ignore the pull of a work that attracts you from the start. Art is very personal, but if you choose to become a collector, make sure you know and check the value of the pieces (independent appraisal companies are available) before you buy.
The style and the mood often affect the selection of the main accessory which will usually be the focal point of a room or a setting in the room. It is often difficult to visualize how a major accessory will look until you actually put it in the space. For this reason, certain shops allow a “take home on consignment” arrangement, where you pay in advance with the understanding that you may return what you don’t like for a refund. This is the best possible approach to accessorizing if you are not retaining professional help. You can also look at magazines and take design books out of the library to see how the pros do it. Go to show houses where many designers do model room settings, as well as model homes, where accessories often “sell” the houses. In short, it takes time, education and patience, but the end result is worth it because accessories make all the difference. Don’t rush. The right piece is worth waiting or searching for and the quest can be so much fun.
Uniquely Natalie is a great place to find accessories for your home at great prices!