Friday, September 27, 2013

Accessorizing, how do you choose the right accessory for your home?

This is both a follow up to an earlier post and a new topic about accessorizing your home.  At the end  I will show you some of the accessory options for a shelf I mentioned in an earlier post. Maybe you can help me decide what looks best.

Accessorizing is tricky. By that I mean, finding the right combination of objects in the right scale and proportion to not only the space you are accessorizing, but also to the other accessories in that space, is not so easy.


One thing to consider is the height. You do not usually want everything to be the same height.  Different shapes usually work well, but not always....that's another tricky part.


Accessories can take a room that is very neutral and add a "theme".  A few well placed seashells add a little "beachy" or coastal feeling without doing the entire room in seashell fabrics, shell lamps and beach scenes.  Most times less is more in that regard.  These flamingos add a "Florida" feeling but they could also add a kitschy touch. 

 Where would you use accessories like this?  A kitchen, breakfast room or dining room are all great places but who wants to be that limited?

The interesting frames, mask and containers could add a bit of tribal style to your home.

You could mix these baskets with the accessories above to bring in textures and an artisan feeling too.  They would work equally well in a contemporary, traditional or eclectic setting.

This box with it's colorful chevron pattern would look fabulous in almost any interior, tribal, contemporary, mid-century modern or traditional.   Where would you put this pretty little thing?

Asian accents absolutely go with just about anything.  They are timeless and never trendy.

So, what do you do when confronted with a beautiful assortment of accessories?  How do you decide what will look best? Do you go by color? Shape? Size? Style?
If I want to use a vase, is it necessary to put something in it?

If you shop prepared with photos of your room, table top or shelves, with measurements and swatches in hand, you will find decisions easier.  Many showrooms will allow you to bring things home to try "on approval" and let you return them if they do not work.

One thing that I do as a designer is to group like items together. This makes more of a statement.  Think of how this group of pretty blue and white porcelain would look if one vase was on a shelf, another on the coffee table with flowers in it, the plates were on the buffet and the figurine stood next to a lamp on an end table?  Group items in a common color, theme or metal finish together for maximum impact. 

This arrangement of blue and white pieces works well because first of all it is united with color. It also has a variety of shapes and heights and adding the figurine breaks up everything else. Don't forget if you need to add height you can elevate anything on a stand or stack of books.

As a designer I look for accessories everywhere including exclusive "to the trade" showrooms. The photos above were taken at just such a showroom called Creative Collection by Petal Pushers.  They also do amazing custom floral arrangements, plants and trees.

Anyone know what a Hummel figurine is?   When you see them scattered about the room it looks cluttered. 

 This sweet figure is on my shelf along with one other.  (It once belonged to my mother so it has sentimental value.)

 Grouped together they make a collection.

One of the first places I suggest that a client should shop is in her/his own home.  You would be surprised what you find.  Antique shops, consignment stores and flea markets or garage sales can be treasure chests of accessories, with lots of history and personality.

Floral arrangement and accessories from Petal Pushers.

Whether you prefer live or silk, floral arrangements as well as plants and trees (we call it "greenery") are a great way to soften straight lines, add pattern, texture and color that can tie everything together. They bring the outdoors in. 

I love these sun bursts. They might be just right for a shelf in a  powder room we are accessorizing.

Oh, these vases are fun and could work with the sunbursts. They are the same finish.

We need something to go on a low shelf in the same powderoom. We filled this long dish with silver dipped shells.  A picture is a good way to remember what we have seen.

Let's see what it looks like on a low shelf like in the powder room.  What do you think?

The colors in these fish look great with the beautiful cracked glass counter top in our client's powder room. 

These whimsical fish are delightful.  We got several to play with and laid them out on the carpet in different arrangements.

Ahh, this is very lovely, a group of photos of sea urchins in a gorgeous turquoise like the counter top.  They can be ordered in different sizes so we will need to figure out how many and what sizes.
We think the fish might be too cute for this elegant powder room.  Do you like the fish or the sea urchins better?

The spikey ball looks good against the tall contemporary vases.  We shopped in the clients home for something for the other shelf but this is all we could find and it does not work too well. But remember those sunbursts?  What if we tried them on the lower shelf?

So, off I go back to Petal Pushers to pick up the sunbursts.

Too tall!

Too much!

Too little!

Better but still not right!

This is looking interesting.  Is it the right arrangement? Is the small sunburst too short?
What if we switched and put it on the higher shelf?

Is this the winner?  This was our favorite. What about you?

The sea urchins will go on the adjacent wall, but do we need something underneath the shelf?  I don't want to over do, but it is looking a little empty. We did try the fish but it looked cluttered.  Stay tuned and you can help us decide! 

Would you like more tips and suggestions about how to accessorize your home?  Do you have a place you just can't figure out how to accessorize?  Email your photos and I'll take a look. 

As always I invite you to share your ideas and experiences and your tips and tricks in the comment box below.

 Happy Decorating !

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Where do Interiors Designers shop, part 2

In my last post about a day in the life of an Interior Designer, I mentioned that I had a fun day planned the next day.  You might call it a sort of "busman's holiday", that is people doing for fun what they do for a living.  I guess it is pretty great if you want to do something on your day off that you do all week long, but that's what happens to me.

This was not exactly my day off.  A local designer showroom had sent a notice that they were opening a new location for designers that had furniture available immediately.  This is terrific idea for us because many times we have to custom order and wait the standard 8 weeks or more for our orders. Sometimes my clients need something right away and I have no choice but to shop retail.  That can be good or not so good.  But having this resource for immediate delivery is an excellent option.

So, two of my designer friends and I spent the afternoon exploring some of our local showrooms.  First stop Judith Norman Now.  This gigantic showroom  showcases a large variety of furniture lines.  Most of the furniture and art is contemporary.

I saw many very beautiful pieces. My friends were also looking for things for projects so they were also busy taking photos and measurements and getting quotes.

I happened to notice they had a nice selection of nests of tables.  Isn't that odd? If I were looking for them, especially contemporary, I would have had to look all over. But now I know where to find them!

They had such a great collection of furniture. I noticed many wonderful chairs that reminded me of some of the chairs I saw at J.F. Chen in LA. ( I wrote about it in my first post about where designers shop.)

I love the way some of the chairs mix wood, metal and woven grass, leather and fabric.

After leaving this showroom we went on to Scalamandre Scalamandre is a line of high end gorgeous fabrics and wallpaper.  Recently they relocated from our local design center (DCOTA) and now they have added 3 other major "mini" showrooms.
In addition to their own lines they also house, Grange, Robert Allen/ Beacon Hill, and Steven Turner. 

These two very different pieces are both from Grange, a French company known for it's beautiful finishes, quality construction and elegant style. The secretary is beautifully hand painted inside and out.  This coctail table offers surprising function for using your laptop, snacking or when closed, a traditional coffee table.

Isn't this a great wallpaper? Scalamandre has outstanding designs in both fabric and wallpaper.

Robert Allen has been one of my favorite fabric companies for years.  When I go to their showroom I can see many of their fabrics in full size samples and take smaller "memo samples" with me to show my clients or to work with as I build a design scheme.
Although I was familiar with these lines from the design center, it was good check them out in their new location.

This striking bedroom is on the floor at J. Nelson.

 In case you are looking for a red and black tiger sofa, I know just where to find it!

 This beautiful hand screened wallpaper panel from Gracie can be done in other color ways and sizes.

This uphostered bed is unique because it combines fabric, a painted finish and metalic trim.

In one display at J. Nelson the walls were covered in an amazing silver reflective wallpaper. It made the whole space glow.
If you look closely you will see the paper is adorned with clusters of crystals! This wallpaper makes quite a dramatic statement. Where would you like to use wallpaper like this?
Another showroom that relocated to the same center is Jerry Pair.
Both  Jerry Pair and J. Nelson  are very upscale and their showrooms were fantastic.

This giant display greeted us when we walked in the door at Jerry Pair.  If you look closely you will see large soft sculptures of animals. They are made as an exhibit from a silk fabric company in Thailand and have traveled around the country. Jerry Pair is the exhibit's last stop.

I have never seen an alligator eating a lamp before, have you?

Being a lover of sunburst mirrors I could not resist these two.  Sunburst mirrors are frequently hung over a headboard.
You have to look close at this bar to see what caught my eye.
Here is a close up. It is decorated with tiny pieces of bone!

Can you figure out what the doors on this cabinet are made with? They are panels of mirror etched to look like wood planks.  In tromp l'oile it would be called faux bois or fake wood.
It was tiring walking around so many square feet of display but we hardly noticed.  It was a great day and now I am ready for any client who wants immediate delivery, beautiful fabrics and elegant furniture. 

Where do you like to shop for your home or design products?  Do you have designer showrooms in your area?  Designer or "trade" showrooms are places that sell only to "the trade" (designers).  They offer incredible selections of not just what you might find at better furniture stores, but other manufacturers that you may also see in popular decorating magazines. They also give designers special pricing so that we can give our clients excellent value along with our expertise.

Would you like me to discuss how interior designers charge in a future post?  I find many people are interested in knowing more about how interior designers charge. Let me know what questions you may have.

As always I invite you to share your ideas and experiences in the comment box below. I welcome your questions via email at

                                    Happy Decorating!