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Your First Home

Finishing Touches

Copyright Deborah Marks 2005

 Accessorizing lends the last finishing touch to your home! It gives you the opportunity to personalize each space and enrich your living environment by adding special interest. Whether your style is elegant or casual, there are accessories available.

Although the actual accessorizing usually takes place at the very end of the design process, it should be given much thought and consideration during the planning stages. A favorite painting may provide the very colors you would like for the living room. Its placement will further determine furniture arrangement and lighting solutions. A good idea is to keep your artwork and other accessories in mind from the start!

Accessories comprise a myriad of objects. Paintings; sculptures; decorative pillows, throws and linens; glass and ceramic pieces; vases; mirrors; photos and their frames; and plants make up the majority of them. They can repeat a color, shape, or texture within the room, pulling it together, or they can stand out and create interest and vibrancy on their own.

In a Contemporary Light environment, use accessories sparingly. Light and simple are the key words. Consider these pieces "works of art," select them with great care, keeping an eye for the unique.

Original artwork need not be exorbitantly expensive. There are numerous art festivals and local shows where you can purchase paintings and sculptures at reasonable prices. The works of upcoming artists often are quite good and can be obtained for significantly less than those of established artists. Prints and posters also are options, especially when expertly framed.

Abstract paintings are a welcome complement to a light, airy environment. They introduce color, form, and movement while at the same time being direct and simple.

Paintings featuring one object on the canvas, such as a flower or a lemon, express color and wit. You may want to display a collection of paintings or just allow one canvas to make a bold statement.

The placement of art also is, so to speak, an art! A large piece will command its own space; groupings require more thought about placement. If you are arranging a number of smaller framed works, try to find one element which unites them all. For example, the frames could be the same color, although of different shapes and sizes, or the subject of the artwork could be variations on one theme.

An asymmetrical arrangement often is more pleasing than a symmetrical one. When hanging a large painting above a sofa, try positioning it to the left of center. Then complement it with two or three smaller pictures to its right. Don't place it too high; it will appear to float. Ground it by hanging it 8" to 10" above the back of the sofa.

All paintings needn't be hung, either! A large painting leaned against the wall can lend a new dynamic to the room. Paintings displayed in such a manner also are easier to change out from time to time.. In earthquake-prone areas, you may want to anchor the upper corners!

Mirrors are not only meant for those quick glances before leaving the home. They come in diverse sizes and shapes that make them wonderful decorative elements in a room, hallway, or entry. Smaller ones lined up across a sideboard can enhance the space. A very large mirror (about 2'-3' x 6'), framed in wood or leather, can simply be set against a wall. Remember that mirrors reflect light and objects. Position a mirror so that the reflection is deliberate and pleasing. Optimal placement of a sizeable mirror can visually enlarge a space.
Much of the furniture in a Contemporary Light environment is low and sleek. To draw the eye upward and strike a balance between vertical and horizontal lines, use tall paintings, plants, and mirrors. Such lofty accessories can be employed to heighten a room with low ceilings.
Vases and bowls are extremely versatile. Colorful and playful designs immediately draw attention, while demure objects blend in. In both cases simple and clear lines should dominate. They can be of glass or ceramic, many hued, clear, or neutral.
New and interesting objects are made of rubber or are silver-plated. Arrange vases in twos or threes with a common denominator of color or shape. Display them together with a shallow bowl. A single large vase (about 3' or 4' in height) standing alone demands attention.

Arrange vases in twos or threes with a common denominator of color or shape. Display them together with a shallow bowl. A single large vase (about 3' or 4' in height) standing alone demands attention.

The "softer" accessories, such as pillows and throws are wonderful for adding color and warmth. Repeat the fabric of your window treatments in the pillows for the sofa. Or introduce new textures and combinations; for example, try alcantara pillows on a leather sofa, or a leather pillow on a chenille chair. Throws draped across a sofa add new form and color. Pillow coverings and throws can be exchanged easily to give a very different look to the room!

Seasonal changes should be reflected in the home. When spring arrives, put a few flowering branches in a vase. Roses typify summer and can be enjoyed not only in arrangements, but in artwork and table linens. Autumn is best denoted by apples and falling leaves. These touches should not be overdone; the intention is to suggest, not to overwhelm.
Holidays provide perfect reasons to accessorize anew. Christmas is just such a time of the year. Choose the color you would like for the tree. Even an unusual color, such as blue, makes for a dazzling effect. The colors on the tree can be repeated in your table setting. Keep to simple choices for tree ornaments; limit the variation in size, color, and number.
Yellow and green are colors which work well at Easter. Dress up your table, and make each holiday an event!

When accessorizing for special occasions, it always is wise to have tableware in white. Chargers, candles, or a floral centerpiece can introduce the color. Fine quality flatware is a necessity. Cloth napkins and napkin rings add to the festivity.

Remember, even if you place one rose in a vase, you are accessorizing and adding something special to your home. That one rose on the breakfast table may be just the thing to get you started and lift your spirits for the whole day!

Pictures courtesy of Roche Bobois, San Jose, CA, Bonaldo, Italy,  Acerbis, Temple, Palo Alto, CA, Jim Lord Landscape Services, Inc., Redwood City, CA .

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