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Decorate with Accessories by Barbara Jennings

If you think about the homes you've been in that were visually the most appealing, chances are it was because they were comfortable - not overly done and not sparcely decorated. Chances are they were also well accessorized.

And if you removed all of the accessories from the home, chances are it would have felt very empty and barren of any personality no matter how nicely furnished it was. That's because the homeowner's personality is reflected through the accessories and not the furniture. It is the accessories that give a home that "personal touch".

So since accessories are very important to the finished look of a home, how does one go about making the right choices?

First of all, it is wise to keep the accessories in harmony with the style of the home and the furnishings. In other words, if the room is very formal, steer clear of bringing in rustic antiques or collectibles. On the other hand, don't introduce crystal and fine porcelains to a a very casual or rustic setting.

While it's great to have an element of surprise here and there, it still needs to feel compatible with the environment where it is placed.  All accessories should relate to the color scheme of the room and fit the overall mood of the space.

When selecting where to place accessories, try to group like kinds together for the most pleasing effect. Small objects should always be grouped whenever possible. The color palette of grouped items should be similar in hue and intensity, but the shapes and sizes and heights should vary.

Books and family photos will fit nicely into just about any decorating style. They can make a room feel homey and reflect the interests of the homeowners as well. Good art is a must. Make sure all of the pieces are not small. Look for ways to use art dramatically and vary the sizes from large to medium to small.

Pick frames for photos that blend with the decor. Remember that frames are just as much a part of the "picture" as the photo and the wrong type of frame can ruin the whole effect.

Watch out for proportional problems such as placing a large oversized work of art on a small wall where the art looks squeezed into the space. Or watch out for putting a small picture on a very large wall where it looks lost and dwarfed. 

Small pieces should be grouped or arranged together into a wall grouping that is in good proportion to the wall. Each piece should be in good scale to all the other pieces. For specific training on how to design beautiful wallgroupings, click here: Make sure that your individual elements in a grouping relate to one another in some way such as color and theme. Then all you have to do is arrange them together in a pleasing arrangement.  My book Where There's a Wall - There's a Way gives 101 illustrated ideas on how to make groupings from the simple to the complex. Order a copy today and you'll never have to wonder how to arrange artwork or pictures again.

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(2004-05 Copyright Barbara Jennings)

Barbara Jennings
is the West Coast Pioneer in Redesign, author of 7 decorating books, a published artist, corporate art consultant, and furniture arrangement consultant. For training in professional furniture and accessory arrangement, or to start your own redesign or art consulting business, please visit: