Guidelines to Accessorizing

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Jan Springer, Director
Heritage School of Interior Design,
Beaverton, Oregon

I find that the most troublesome part of design with my clients is the art of accessorizing.  We can always manage to get the “big chunks” (sofas, chairs, tables etc) in the room but the finishing touches mystify even some designers.  One of the mistakes most of us make is we buy the accessories first because they are the most affordable pieces of the design plan.

Accessories are always the finishing touches and therefore should not be bought until the main pieces of furniture are bought and in place.  How do we know what type of lamp to buy until we know what table it will sit upon.   How do we know where we can place a piece of artwork or a mirror until we have the furniture arranged and in place.  We have to put the furniture pieces in place to see the “negative space”.

Speaking of “negative space”, that does not mean we fill all of it up.  There needs to be negative space in order to appreciated the shape of the room and the things which occupy it.  That leads us to the next mistake…”over accessorizing”.

If your room looks like a gift shop you may have “over accessorized”.

Each design style suggests the amount of accessorizing that would suit the style.  For example in Contemporary Design you need a lot of “negative space” because it does not call for an abundance of accessories.  On the other hand if you are into Victorian Design,  there would be litlle to no negative space.   We really don’t talk in terms of rules when it comes to design but guidelines are always helpful.

1. Less is more, use larger more important pieces.
2. Placement of items should be in proportion to the space they occupy.
3. Collections are more dramatic if they are grouped together rather than scattered about.
4. Odd numbers are more pleasing than even… except a pair of objects is always correct.
5. Use books or platforms to elevate small items to be included in larger groupings
6. Artwork should be displayed at eye level.
7. Area rugs are used to define conversation areas and should not be floated in a room.
8. Mirrors should reflect something you want to see twice.
9. Items grouped together should share some common trait…color, style, formal, informal.
10.Don’t be too predictable, add something whimsical.

Remember:  The beauty of any room is in the details.

Jan Springer, Director
Heritage School of Interior Design,
Beaverton, Oregon