Interior designers and their clients spend countless hours considering and finalizing their choices for a home’s color palette, flooring material, ceiling details, cabinetry, finishes, and furnishings. Obviously, each of these elements is essential to the interior design puzzle. As accomplished designers know, however, there is another element that ultimately unifies the entire look and feeling of a home: accessories. For designers, the term “accessories” can mean many things – paintings or photographs, sculptural art pieces, vases, accent pillows, area rugs, colorful throws, books, collected items, or treasured keepsakes. Think of the items placed throughout your home. Now imagine how your living spaces would look without them. Accessories speak to what is important to you. They can personalize a design and enliven or bring a soothing note to a room with splashes of color. In doing so, accessories complete the look of a home.

“Accessories are the finishing touches of an interior design,” said Vogue Interiors President Debbie De Maria, ASID, IDS. “It’s like putting on a dress and then adding the earrings, the necklace, the shoes, and the purse to finish off the whole look. Accessorization brings life to the different areas of a home. It brings everything together and provides a sense of feeling, a sense of serenity, or a sense of excitement. Just having furniture alone doesn’t really do anything.”

The effective use of accessories requires a balanced approach. For example, art selections can include a mix of paintings, sculpted pieces, and colorful pieces of blown glass. Coffee table books can serve as conversation starters. Bookcases can serve as perfect places for displaying collected items. Another key is to not overdo the approach. Using too many accessories can diminish the importance of the elements that truly contribute to personalizing and completing the design.

“I’ve found it’s better to use less so things that are important stand out,” said Debbie. “We ask our clients to give us the treasures they want displayed. Then we place them in ways that are meaningful. Family photos can be scattered throughout the home. Bookcases are perfect places for other family related items. It’s important they’re placed at eye height so they can be seen and appreciated. Displaying books can be important because they say a lot about who a person is and their interests.”

Many of today’s interior designs feature neutral-toned background colors. The colors found in a home’s accessories are often left to define the serenity or vibrancy of the overall look.

“Instead of colorizing a home in the furniture, it’s usually better to do it with accessories,” said Debbie. “That way the look is not overwhelmed with color. The right piece of art placed against a neutral background can bring in a splash of color, vibrancy, or calmness. Area rugs can add a sense of depth and color that can be complemented by other accessory items and accent pillows. Again, the key to achieving the perfect look is to be balanced in the approach.”