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How to add accessories to your home for a luxurious yet personal look and feel

Call it the icing on the cake or the jewelry of the space–from the designer's point of view, accessories are that all-important final layer that makes a room look 'finished' and magazine-worthy.

Shelves beautifully accessorized with vases, books, art, and wood logs
Image via The Lifestyled Co.

When it comes to how to add accessories to your spaces in a way that makes them feel curated and cohesive rather than cluttered, however, it’s not as simple as just picking up the latest pretty offerings at your local store and scattering them around the house wily nily.

When accessorizing my clients’ homes, my goal is to make them look thoughtfully decorated, luxuriously layered, and authentically personal. If that’s what you’re going for in your own home, I have three pro tips for you.

#1 Select decorative accessories you feel connected to

Before we launch into this tip, let’s just define what we mean by ‘accessories.’ Accessories are essentially all the easily movable decorative objects in a space. Of course, sometimes we have certain accessories for specific seasons or holidays like Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanza, or even Halloween.

We'll talk about seasonal decorating in the near future but for our purposes in this post, we’re talking about timeless accessories–those items that help create and/or balance the look you’re into at any given time (i.e. modern vs. traditional; formal vs. relaxed, etc.).

Entry table beautifully accessorized with vase, books, large mirror
Image via Living Letter Home

These items include things like:

  • Mirrors

  • Vases

  • Flowers, branches, and greenery

  • Baskets

  • Objets d'art

  • Books

  • Framed art or artwork

  • Pieces of antiquity/artifacts

  • Rocks or crystals

  • Candles/candle holders

  • Pottery

  • China

  • Family heirlooms

I believe one of the keys to accessorizing well is to use items that build emotional connection between you and your space. You don’t want to just point to a vignette in a store or showroom and put it in your home. It has to look authentic and unique to your home or it will be a missed opportunity to personalize your space. If you accessorize your spaces in a way that’s not personal, it will leave you feeling flat and joyless about your home.

That isn’t to say that every single item has to have a deep meaning for you or that you have to completely love every little piece. In fact, some of the best vignettes I’ve ever created for my clients in terms of their feeling of connection to them have been combinations of items they adored and ‘filler’ pieces that didn’t have any particular meaning or special appeal to them but that, together with all the other pieces, made everything look amazing as a whole.

Sideboard beautifully accessorized with vase, bowl, artwork, and books
Image via Pinterest

For the past five years or so, there’s been a strong trend of less-is-more in accessories with the popularity of Marie Kondo and other influencers who taught us how to clear out the clutter (which has been great!). But knowing trends as well as I do, I can see this is now starting to come back around the other way.

Trends, of course, reflect both the times and what we're yearning for in response to those times. Before 2008, design was all about abundance. After the crash, we paired back our lifestyles significantly–and many people sadly lost their homes altogether. We’ve been through some challenging times the past few years, culturally and economically. Whenever we’re looking looking for comfort, coziness, and connection, we want to be surrounded by things that hold meaning for us and help us feel secure and grounded.

What I’m seeing now is a resurgence of mindfully adding more to our rooms. We're being intentional about what we're bringing into our homes. We want it to reflect who we are and make us feel good rather than just collecting things for the purpose of keeping up with some external standard.

In terms of selecting accessories mindfully, you will feel it in your very soul when you get the right item in your home that uplifts you. It can even be as simple as a vase your child made in school. You don't have to have a whole wall full of original art. Whatever it is, it just has to make you happy!

#2 Create compositions that let you best appreciate each item

Whether you’re displaying items in tablescapes or bookshelves, you want to focus on creating compositions that bring interest to otherwise empty spots in a room and that allow you to get the most enjoyment out of your accessories.

Think about how to best appreciate each item. If you have favorite pieces, try to use them in the spaces you spend the most time in rather than tucking them away in a rarely visited guest room.

Additionally, it’s easier to appreciate a few things at a time than it is to appreciate a mass of things so just because you have a lot of something doesn't mean you should display all of it at once.

If you received beautiful glassware for your wedding, for example, think about showcasing some of it and rotating the pieces out periodically. The idea is to try not to go too far with any one thing. To really enjoy what you have, your home shouldn't be like a museum with huge collections on display.

Consider where to place items to best advantage. A painting that's best viewed from a distance should be placed at the end of a hallway, for example. Also, while a piece can be a focal point, you don’t want it take over a space entirely. Similarly, you don’t want a piece to get lost in the space and go completely unnoticed. Take into account how each item relates to the rest of the space and everything else in it.

What often makes an accessory truly compelling is when it's seemingly unrelated to the surrounding components yet has a clear relationship. For instance, a modern item in a traditional space but within the space’s color palette.

To create simple compositions, stick to the rule of threes–for example, a vase, a basket, and a book or a bowl, a candle, and a mirror–and vary heights, shapes, sizes, colors, and textures for maximum interest.

#3 Give yourself permission to experiment

Coffee table beautifully accessorized with vase, bowl and books
Image via Pinterest

I have found that in working in people's homes, they sometimes think that because we came up with a great arrangement that looks fabulous, they can never change it. I always encourage my clients to move things around, change it up, and play with it. Doing this with your accessories either seasonally or every few years can keep your home feeling fresh, interesting, and alive. Even better, it will keep you feeling connected to your spaces!

While you’re experimenting with accessories, trust your gut. There's no hard and fast rule that will get you there. If anything, it's better not to strive for perfection. It's the act of creative evolution and giving yourself the freedom to play that will let you recognize fully the impact the accessories and the arrangement you’re creating will have on you and your space. Don’t be quick to criticize yourself. Give yourself time and grace to enjoy the creative process and find the grouping of accessories that makes you happy.

During this process, get your phone out and take pictures of the different arrangements you create. That way, if you move things around and end up realizing you liked an earlier attempt better, you can go back to those photos and reference them to recreate it. 99% of the time we go back to the thing we started with.

When you create a new composition or introduce something new into your space, apply the 10-day rule. If you're not quite sure about it (this happens to me in my home all the time!), allow yourself 10 days before you decide against it. It really may only take you 48 hours to decide you love it, but allow yourself time to sit with the change and see what happens.

That all said, not everyone has a knack for this and that's OK! I even know designers who won't do accessories for their client projects because they know it's not really their thing. Many shops offer amazing help in this area. If you don't want to be bothered with it, hire a designer who's not only good at it but also loves it. That way, you can both be happy!


Don’t underestimate the impact the right accessories can have on your spaces and your enjoyment of them. By taking the time to look for pieces you feel connected to and experimenting with arrangements, you can completely transform your home into a beautiful, personal haven that looks luxurious and feels fresh and new!

Do you want help with accessorizing your home in the Marin County, San Francisco, or Napa Valley area? Let’s talk about it!


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