Demo Lesson

Chapter 1

1. Navigating the Presentation

2. Introduction

Chapter 2

1. General Guidelines...

2. General Guidelines (cont.)...

Chapter 3

1. Choosing Artwork

2. Hanging and Displaying...

Chapter 4

1. Choosing Accessories

2. Choosing Accessories (cont.)

3. Displaying Objects

Chapter 5

1. Grouping Artwork...

2. Growing Good Energy

3. How Does the TV Fit In?

Chapter 6

1. Summary

2. Conclusion


General Guidelines for Accessorizing (continued)


  1. Pay attention to proportion, balance, and symmetry.


    Like all aspects of design, accessorizing requires you to bring your sense of proportion and balance to bear on the space. To create authentic, layered beauty in a room, the accessories need to appear as if they grew organically out of the rest of the room. If the placement of items feels stilted, it will interrupt the flow of the room. In placing and using accents, it's the harmony of parts that matters most. Many people really struggle with this aspect of design, but it shouldn't be too difficult if you trust your instincts and remember a few simple guidelines. Let's start with a few tips about scale and proportion as you consider both art and accessories:


    • In a large room, you need large-scale objects that fill the space, making it seem more intimate. Buy the largest items you can. 
    • In a small room, a few large-scale items will fool the eye into thinking the space is larger than it really is. 
    • Displaying a lot of small things is rarely effective. It might sound illogical, but lots of small-scale items will make a small room look smaller. Conversely, they'll make a large room look even larger. They'll make just about any room look cluttered and busy. 
    • Variety is important. Every decorative element in a room should not be the same size. It's necessary to balance a room containing a few carefully chosen large objects with smaller objects to achieve form and textural contrast. Mix large and small objects rather than choosing some large, some small, and some medium-sized objects. On a large, classic black marble fireplace, for example, you might display three miniature silver bowls. Against the backdrop of an artwork image of enlarged roses, you might display a single rose. You can use the contrast of scale to create interest and surprise.

    What about symmetry? We discussed different types of symmetry earlier in the course. When it comes to art and accessories, some people like asymmetrical placement, which tends to appear more modern than symmetrical placement. Other people enjoy hanging pictures and placing objects symmetrically in a room, which represents a more traditional style. Neither approach is right or wrong. Ask yourself: What does the room call for? What feels right in that space?

    Symmetrical balance
    Symmetrical balance

    Asymmetry in a room does not mean the room will lack balance and proportion. Remember that you can arrange objects asymmetrically while still preserving a feeling of balance, depending on the size and placement of the objects. If you have one oversized vessel on one end of a credenza, you might balance it with two or three smaller pieces on the other end. To make this work as a unit, you’ll need one element—texture, color, shape or style—to connect the two sets of objects.

    Asymmetrical balance
    Asymmetrical balance


    It's also possible to have too much symmetry. Perfectly matched sets of chairs, tables, lamps, bookcases, and mirrors are visually uninspiring. A room that’s too perfect has no rhythm. In order for a symmetrical room to work well, there must be some asymmetry. Create the symmetry, and then break it gently with a flower, a wayward pillow, or a unique chair. People prefer symmetry in their bedrooms because it’s restful, but even bedrooms can benefit from a little asymmetry. Simply choose the best place for the bed, use that as your center point, and create an interior with almost a mirror image on either side of the bed. Consider this example, where the topiaries behind the bed offer an interesting break from the overall symmetry.


    Nearly symmetrical bedroom
    Nearly symmetrical bedroom


    According to respected theories dating back to Ancient Greek philosophy, humans have an innate ability to recognize harmony and balance, and they enjoy seeing this around them—in nature and interiors. So try to detach somewhat from your rational mind when placing decorative accents, and follow your natural instincts as you place portable furnishings and objects. You may surprise yourself. A few words of caution: Don’t be tempted to rush into an “instant” décor by taking a page from a magazine or catalog and trying to duplicate it exactly. Take an organic, natural approach, allowing the environment to evolve. If you do, the space will bring more joy and satisfaction than a space that has been instantly decorated. The best designed spaces have authenticity and integrity that result from time. 

  2. Be respectful when helping your clients edit.


    When accessorizing a space, you’ll often work with items your clients already own. In fact, sometimes people call in interior designers just to help them accessorize the space, to “do” the bookshelves, or to bring in a few pieces for the living room. This is a real design challenge because moving or discarding what someone has put in place is a form of judgment on their taste. Even if they hired you to do it, clients can get offended when you edit the silk plants they’ve placed in every nook and cranny. (Tip: Interior designers rarely use artificial greenery.)


    Two women talking at a table
    Use tact when talking to clients about accessories

    The accessorizing phase of design work can be tricky. Bring your good humor and your tact to the job. Teach your clients who collect items to edit temporarily—that is, bring one or two beloved objects out while storing others, or change the accessories seasonally. Explain that leaving enough space around an object allows it to have the greatest impact.

If you follow these basic guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to accessorizing success. In the next chapter, you’ll learn more about how to choose and display artwork.