Accessorize Your Home Like You Accessorize Your Outfits

By Beth Whitlinger, ASID, CID

Home accessories can make all the difference in making a home look finished and pulled together. Accessories add scale, balance and proportion and complete the look of a room, just like fashion accessories do with an outfit. Layering accessories of different texture and structure create a cohesive force in the room and help draw people into the space.

Like a scarf completes an outfit by tying disparate colors together, pillows, area rugs and artwork can marry a color palette, bringing the colors together into a cohesive, flowing aesthetic. For example, when using two very different colors such as gray and yellow, accessories can tie them together to make the room look complete.

A touch of the unexpected in accessories can give a room a unique personality, resulting in an exciting, impactful environment. For example, found objects, such as shells, sea glass and wood pieces, bring the outside in and can reflect the personality of homeowners.


Using objects for different uses than their original purpose also creates an intriguing visual. For example, we repurposed a 200-year-old Chinese bed that our client found and wanted to use in her home design. Finding a new life as a coffee table, it personalizes the space and is a topic of conversation. Being rustic and sturdy, it’s also perfect for this high-traffic family home.


Rather than having collections scattered around the home, it’s more impactful to group them. For example, we have had clients who collected animal figurines. Grouping them creates a whimsical look and a story about the homeowner’s interests.

For collections of very small items, such as Native American fetish, Milagros, Guatemalan worry dolls, thimbles and polished rocks, placing them in a bowl on a coffee table encourages guests to look at them and touch them. It’s also less cluttered than a lot of small items sitting on a shelf.


Incorporating personal collections gives homeowners a personal connection with their space. Things that they love and want to share should be placed in a prominent place, such as the living room. More personal pieces should be placed in their bedrooms or other private spaces.

A homeowner’s hobbies can translate into bold accessories. In one home, we made the owner’s guitar collection into wall art. The guitars make an artistic display that reflects the homeowner’s personality and also provide useful, easy storage.


Artwork is also an important accessory. Art pieces don’t always need to be new. In fact, a homeowner’s favorite artwork from travels or visits to local art fairs fill the room with happy memories. Even posters from favorite movies or video games bring flare and personality to a room and can be used to tie colors together. If the artwork brings the homeowner joy, it should be included in his or her home.


In some cases, the artwork doesn’t even have to be in the same color palette to fit into the design. We placed a client’s turquoise glass plate over her fireplace in a very neutral room. The striking blue color makes the room pop.


In selecting artwork from personal collections, it’s important for the homeowner to feel like the designer is curating the collections. Since artwork is personal and emotional, the comfort of the homeowner is paramount. He or she should love it and feel that it reflects his or her personality. Anyone can go buy new stuff, but curating takes talent.

Regardless of the accessory type, choosing the right balance of color, texture, size and emotional value will create spaces in the home that are perfect for gathering family and friends or spending time reflecting alone.