Many people think of accessories as the sprinkles on top of the designer cake, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Accessories are not just decoration — they are an integral part of the design. Accessories are important. Essential. Transformative.
To show you exactly what I mean, I want to take you into the world of accessories and share all that you need to know about them, including:
- 9 key roles accessories play in the design of your home
- A list of ideal candidates for home accessories
- A look at how and when we plan for accessories during the design process
- An overview of typical accessories investments
- Our final tips for incorporating accessories that transform your home
I’m also sharing a space before and after accessories have been added to it — so you can see the difference!
Why are accessories essential to a well-designed home?
Let me count the ways…
- Personalize the space
- Allow the color palette to come full circle and feel cohesive
- Create a sense of intimacy in a space
- Can create function (games, boxes, books and trays are all functional AND visually appealing)
- Prevent a space from falling flat
- Opportunity to create visual balance (for height, color distribution, texture, etc.)
- Opportunity to mix metals (such as a brass tray or pewter vase)
- Great way to use bold pattern in a smaller amount
- Most importantly, accessories make any space feel finished
Here is a before & after scene that illustrates several of these roles:
Before and after accessorizing the Capital Craftsman entryway.
Before, you can see that the main entryway furnishings include two inky blue lamps and a burlwood console. These pieces have their own unique beauty, yes, but they aren’t adding to the overall design at the moment. They look a little lonely and lackluster. Until…
On the right, you see the same scene, after styling. Eucalyptus leaves spiral out of a black and gold vase, a small pyramid of books balance light and dark, and a geometric patterned box chats with the beautiful rug. You can now see how this entryway works as a whole — each element standing out but not competing. Big difference, right?!
What is considered an accessory?
Okay, I know this might be an obvious list, but I do think it can help your imagination to see the possibilities for accessories. Personalization through accessories is what makes your home even more special — and tailored to your most vibrant living!
- Books, books, books, books (I personally love the vibrant options at Assouline)
- Strings of beads (glass, wooden, jade, etc.)
- Trays of all shapes and sizes
- Vessels, vases and jars
- Small artwork (for bookshelves or atop case goods)
- Picture frames
- Coasters (these are super functional, too)
- Objects of all sizes (like agate stone, coral, sculptural figurines, etc.)
- Branches, greenery and flowers (live, dried, or faux)
- Colorful throws
- Pillows (although we often include these when planning/budgeting furnishings)
Let’s take a look at a few of these in action…
Can you imagine this room without accessories?! It wouldn’t be the same! Books, picture frames, vases and objects fill the shelves of the built-in in The Linden Project to help unify the overall color palette, add interest to the space, and create the desired look and feel.
Upstairs in the master bedroom of the Capital Craftsman, accessories animate the room. We styled another console with various black and gold vases, a tray of books and beads, and a luxurious alpaca throw for added texture and softness.
In the Barrington Bay sunroom, we used a wicker basket, two small vases, a linen blanket, and some greenery to infuse this space with sunny character that will be welcome in any season. Simple yet effective!
When do we plan the accessories in a design?
We plan the accessories in a space very early on. By now, you know they are an integral part of the design (and you know everything we do is intentional), so you can imagine that these decisions don’t wait until the last minute.
If you are decorating your home on your own, I highly recommend you take this planning-oriented approach as well. It is very, very difficult to create a cohesive design one piece at a time. Planning ahead is how you balance form, function, color, patterns, texture, weight, and more.
At Blakely, when it comes to sourcing accessories, our designers take the approved space plan and map out exactly what they will need in terms of accessories. Of course, the exact layout could change once we get our hands on the physical space, but early preparation directs our game plan for sourcing and paves the way to success. It tells us roughly how many books we need, what size trays, how many objects, how tall the vases should be, etc.
Then, with our client’s budget in mind, our designers start sourcing accessories. Throughout the year our team attends market and builds a collection of accessories that we know our clients will love, so of course we start there, selecting those special pieces from our back room. Then we identify the gaps (in color, height and texture, for example) and source from our trusted vendors and local boutiques to find one-of-a-kind pieces
Our backroom houses a curated collection of colorful accessories that allows us to fully realize the color palette and aesthetic.
How much should you invest in accessories?
Accessories investments can surprise some people, but that’s usually before they’ve realized how critical accessories are to the design transformation. You’re a little wiser now, I bet. 😉
Before we talk numbers, you should know that your accessories budget depends on your space. More surfaces — think living rooms, master bedrooms, home offices, and anywhere there is a built-in — means more to style and a higher budget to do so. Kitchens and bathrooms need less but are just as important to style.
Here’s the accessories budget breakdown:
- 10-20% of your furnishings investment should be dedicated to accessories in main spaces (living room, master bedroom, office). Naturally in spaces with fewer surfaces to accessorize (bathrooms, kitchens, powder rooms, butler’s pantries) you could budget for less than 10% depending on the room.
- For specific examples of accessories budgets, you can find a couple budget breakdowns here
In general, you will always need more accessories than you think you will, which is why we always plan the styling in advance but still bring extra to the installation… just in case. You can do the same.
Need to be choosy? If you’re going to invest in limited accessories for your home, make each one count. Opt for pieces that will give you the most bang for your buck, simultaneously checking the boxes for function and style. High-quality trays and books are great for this.
A built-in bar with open shelving requires expert accessorizing. In the Jersey Palm Project, we used monochromatic items that evoke the sea, add a touch of nostalgia, and don’t distract from the main features of the room.
How do we style a space with accessories?
Now that’s a big question. The styling process is artistic. We must think of linear and curved lines, color palette, shape, form, function, and it all has to feel right, too. There’s not really a right or wrong way to accessorize, per se, but you’ll notice when there isn’t proper balance.
Fortunately, I’ve already shared 8 great tips for styling spaces with accessories, so I will direct you there if you’d like a how-to. If we had to pick our top 5 favorite things to transform your space, it would be books, trays, objects, beads, and greenery.
And that’s a wrap! I know I started this blog post to get you excited about accessories, but I have to say that I am now equally excited about their power and magic in creating truly special homes — I guess that’s when you know you’re in the right profession!
Have any questions? Looking forward to redesigning your home? It’s never too early. Reach out to us here, and let’s get to know each other.