Arranging Accessories

Accessories as Grace Note

Like the hat, the shoe, the glove, accessories are the finishing touch that make or break an interior. But you have to be disciplined and get the backgrounds in first. Place accessories last and with care.

  • Subtract before adding. Critically edit what you have and eliminate what’s not working before adding to it. Try to see your home as a newcomer would.
  • Err on spare. Remember what almost every interior designer and real estate pro says about homes today: They’re too cluttered. They’re right. Having larger, fewer accessories will help you avoid making a room visually noisy.
  • Rotate. If you have too many accessories, and can’t part with enough to make your décor look clean and not cluttered, consider rotating them. Put some away and leave others on display. When you want a change, pull some out of storage and swap them out. Your eye will appreciate them more.
  • Play. Add, remove, and rearrange accessories until the room feels right.
  • Place like items together. A collection unified makes more of a statement than if scattered. When encased in a cabinet, or on a designated shelf or bookcase, a would-be hodgepodge becomes orderly.
  • Context is everything. When displaying a collection, put it in the room it belongs. For example, put a collection of old maps in the study. Put perfume bottles on a bedroom dresser, and antique cooking gadgets in the kitchen.
  • Layer your display. Put tall items in the back and add variety by putting some items on a pedestal or a stack of books.
  • Keep book shelves tidy. Separate paperbacks from hard covers, and display hard covers more prominently. Arrange books from tall to short. And if you have the space, arrange shelves so you have one third books, one third art objects, one third open space.

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