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Top 7 basics for accessorizing your home

“The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize.” – Robert Harling

Humans have an innate desire to accessorize the things that touch our lives. We decorate our food, our bodies, our land and our wardrobes with accessories of every color and texture imaginable. And our homes are no exception.

Accessories are the jewelry of an interior. They can add accent and emphasis to your living spaces, and they also serve to pull your entire design together. If they are handled well, accessories can make a space come alive by adding interest, texture, shape and color to a room design.

Identify and accessorize your focal point

The very start of accessorizing a room or space begins with identifying your focal point, which will be the main furniture piece (or built-in structure). This will most likely be placed on the dominant wall, which is the wall you notice most or first when entering a room.

Play up the focal point and dress it up to create the room’s main emphasis point. For example, if the focal point is a mantle, celebrate it with a grand display of matching vases and floral arrangements on either side of a tall and wide elaborately framed print. If it is a bed or sofa, dress it with beautiful custom throw pillows and a glamorous throw. Flank a focal point such as a fireplace with artwork, vases or accent chairs to enlarge the area.

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Situate area rugs, define the sapce and add “punch”

After establishing and dressing the focal point, give the main activity areas of a space some boundaries. Area rugs help define the space and help pull it together. Area rugs are the room’s “show-offs”. Although they actually are in the flooring category, area rugs also act as accessories since they embellish an area with color, texture and pattern. They can also be used in large or multi-purpose rooms to break up the space and define individual seating groupings.

Now that your focal point is in place and dressed, and your area rugs are situated, you can begin adding other accents. Here are the 7 basics for accessorizing your home:

1. Simple is best. In creating displays, remember that simple is best. Don’t clutter the walls, tables, or the empty areas. Use accessories with design techniques to add color, height, interest, or emphasis to a spot. Always remember to use scale, weight and proportion. Objects should be balanced and in line with one another and with the other elements of the room. Visual symmetry can work when you do not have matching objects needed for perfectly symmetrical displays. This rule applies as long as the visual space taken up by two displays are about the same. The effect can work like perfect symmetry to give a feeling of balance.

2. Wide with wide, narrow with narrow, tall with tall. Always match wide spaces with wide accessories, narrow spaces with narrow accessories, and tall spaces with tall accessories or accessories layered for height. For example, when dressing a wide wall area, use wide framed art, or when dressing a tall, narrow space on the side of a china cabinet, use a tall and narrow vase and floral arrangement. Fill up the space you are accessorizing but leave adequate room around the items, so the area does not seem cluttered. This way the eye and mind will process the design peacefully.

3. Be mindful of scale. Remember, chunky with chunky, delicate with delicate. For instance, a pair of delicate candle holders would be a better accessory choice on a graceful coffee table with delicate legs than would a pair of rugged and thick candle holders. A big chunky accent table would have a chunky decorative box or lamp, for example. You can then add other items of different sizes for interest once you have your display area focal point in place.

4. Add variety in the elements. Use a variety of textures, shapes, colors and sizes for wall display. For tabletop displays, use these elements plus elements with varying heights. Try to mix fabric pieces and upholstered furnishings with hard surfaces such as woods, stone and metals to add beauty and enhance a space.

Contrasting shapes and lines can be used to add visual interest. Mix some horizontal lines in with vertical lines and use a few round shapes to balance an abundance of right angles and square shapes in a space.

5. Be bold with wall art. Be bold with your wall pieces. Allow the size of framed art to “take up” the space it is occupying and be in the center point of that space. If the wall space is wide, use a wide framed piece.

Avoid hanging artwork too high. This is a typical mistake that homeowners make. Also, watch that your framed pieces are not positioned too low. To keep an overall sense of balance and harmony in a space, start with the center of the piece at five feet up from the floor and make any necessary adjustments in relation to the other furnishings. Just be aware that eye level and a bit above is a comfortable point at which to view art.

6. Greenery. Plants bring the outdoors in and provide a calming effect. Plants also help to clean the air and add a subtle and pleasing fragrance.
Create a sense of depth by placing tall plants behind sofas, chairs, or tables, drawing the eye slightly beyond the furniture.

7. Fragrance. Fragrance is one part of designing a space that can easily be overlooked, yet a fragrant room can add a great deal to the finished mood and effect. Fragrance will make a room more pleasing and inviting. Some natural fragrances can be introduced through real plants. Candles are an excellent way to perfume the air, as well.

By now you hopefully you have been inspired to clear some of the clutter from your displays, rehang your art, if needed, and mix it up in terms of color, textures, lines, fabrics and hard surfaces. The best time to take action is when your knowledge is fresh and motivating.

About the Author
Ivet Ivanova is the owner and lead designer at BOGARI European Contemporary Furniture in Greenville, SC. Born in Sofia, Bulgaria, Ivet and her husband, Lyudmil, moved to Greenville when his company transferred him in 1997. With more than 25 years of interior design experience and a passion for contemporary style, Ivet enjoys working with European contemporary and modern designs that offer a distinguished look for the Upstate area. She finds that Greenville, though steeped in tradition, has a growing audience that loves the comfort and beauty of contemporary furniture.

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