For an interior decorator, the renovation isn’t over when the workmen leave and the structure is complete. That’s just the beginning of the end, so to speak. After the dust settles, we get to make it truly personal with paint, furniture and fabrics, followed by art and accessories. My clients often forget this last part of the process, and a project always feels unfinished (and very unsatisfactory!) when they don’t see the process to this stage. Many of them are stymied when it comes to accessorizing, so I thought I would share my approach to styling my rooms.
First of all, I think that the art and accessories truly personalize a room in a way that nothing else can. Or at least, they should! I am not a fan of those crazy magazine images of books re-wrapped in plain paper to blend in with neutral schemes, or shelves filled with new objects like something out of a store display. There’s no right or wrong, and if you like it, it works. But if you are stumped, here are my ‘rules’ for accessorizing….
Rule 1: Make it personal. The first question I ask when a client wants me to style their space: what do you have stashed away in the closet/kitchen cupboard/china cabinet that you’ve forgotten about? Then I look for ways to group those personal objects together so that they tell little stories.
Rule 2: Avoid clutter. I like my ‘stuff’, but I also have a place for everything, and I like everything in its place. These cabinets have glass doors that close, and no one dares to put something in there without my approval.
Rule 3: Use art and accessories to reinforce focal areas. Here, the sconces on either side of the painting help to draw attention.
Rule 4: One big object is more eye-catching (and easier to dust!) than a bunch of little ones. Plus, in a high-traffic area like this stairwell, it’s less likely to be knocked off the ledge.
Rule 5: Hang art in a space appropriate to its size, and at a height that makes sense for the area. In the stairwell, we hung a single piece of art, at a level best suited to those viewing it from the entry door and on the stairs. If we hung it any higher, it would need to be much larger, as the tall mirror on the opposite wall.
Rule 6: Vary the heights of objects in a grouping. Here, your eye travels from the drapery down to the lamp, then down to the vase, then to the teapot, slowly circling down to the tabletop.
Rule 7: Rules are made to be broken. Look at these photos or those in magazines that you admire, then just play around with your stuff until you get it right. Some areas will come together more easily than others, and some will remain ‘unfinished’ for a while until you get inspired by a new piece of furniture. Don’t sweat it — it’s meant to be a bit of a challenge. But the results are worth it, when you get it right.