Friday, October 31, 2014

Accessories: A decorator's perspective

Part 2 of 5

Accessorizing a client's home

I'm often asked what is the most difficult job I do as a decorator.  Truthfully it is to accessorize a home.  Not because I can't create beautiful vignettes or select interesting objects, it's because I have a belief in individual expression in a home, and it is so difficult to feel this, and then try to create a look for someone else. The one thing I have as a decorator is an unbiased eye for someone else's space. That is helpful, and I often see new life in their discarded items.

How I do it 

With clients I spend a lot of time chatting and gathering information.  I ask them to pull out all kinds of objects they already have, even ones they think they don't want anymore, and look for things to integrate with newly purchased objects.  Check out this post to see one client's vignette.  I find out about their interests, travels, background etc.  I consider if they have children and what their interests are.  It is also worthwhile to look at children's art work for inspiration.  Another telling activity is to look at what is currently in a home and ask questions about its origins, etc.  When I ask how they want people to  feel/think when they come into their home, I usually get guidance for the overall look clients are going for.   Then I  put all the information together to come up with meaningful accessories that work for a particular  family.

inspiration board, organic, geometric, spring green
Client inspiration board - organic references 

This inspiration board was created for clients who were interested in finishing their space with additional accessories to add to objects they purchased during their travels.  When I looked at what they already had, I could see strong contrasts,  elongated textural sculptures, and several vibrant colours.  I chose an earthy green, nature references and rounder shapes to work with the more elongated ones they already had.  I wanted to warm up the predominant " blackness" of their space and play into their obvious interest in geometric motifs and texture.  With the inspiration board in hand the clients chose to shop themselves over time to complete their space.  The flowers of course never happened!  Twigs were more their style.

A long term activity

Adding the final touches to your home can take a long time.  You many have certain things in mind and can't find them; you many have budget restraints after purchasing big ticket items; you may be just plain exhausted doing everything else, and have no energy left to deal with little things. Or you can be bored with what you have and want to start over.   No matter where you are on the accessorizing continuum, you need to have a plan in place to create an interesting, personal space.

Two ways to do it

Of course the easiest way is to hire a decorator!  An inspiration board like the one above is a very affordable solution, and you can purchase all the objects referenced online, or you can use it to shop your area.  When people want to purchase locally, the inspiration board would contain objects/furniture available in the city.  Most decorators also have rates for personal shopping for clients.

If you want to do it all yourself, I suggest the following:
  • Look online (Pinterest, Houzz) and collect inspiration images looking for patterns,  objects, colours, textures that  resonate with you; look at how they are displayed/arranged;

I keep way too many files on Houzz and Pinterest to use as inspiration and reference when talking to clients about concepts. 

  • Make a list of possible items for accessorizing from your inspiration images; have headings (e.g. art, table top vignette, pillow arrangements and styles etc. )
  • Remove all the accessories in the space you are working on and put them in another room; 
  • Check your storage areas  and other rooms to see  if you have things that might have a new life in a different space;
  • Look at your collection and choose anything  that you love and think could work in the space;
  • Bring them to the room you want to accessorize and place any that work; 

I went to my own storage area to see what extras I didn't have in use. Then I integrated some of them with arrangements I already had in my dining room to show you how many things can work and be changed around.  Obviously I care about these objects or they would have made their way to charity. 

dining room vignette, Boblen vase, accessories,

 These two items on the right get used for all sorts of things.  The top is image shows a Boblen  vase that I wrote about here, and the plate is part of a set of 8 that I use for entertaining.  It also works as a candle holder or propped up on a small plate holder it becomes a graphic piece of art.

wooden vase, black candle holders, fall decorating

 The black mesh square tray was the base for a gift  I received last Christmas.  Black and square are two of my loves, when you add texture how could I let it go?  Anything hand made is alway a keeper especially when it has the beautiful form this vase does.  A few colourful berry branches the colour of the season can change the look completely.  Use your imagination about what additional seasonal objects you place in the basket/tray.

stone eggs, accessories, black candle holders, vignette

And on to the stone eggs my sister gave me years ago.  This hand crafted white  bowl has a beautiful irregular form and can be filled with all sorts of goodies. 

You get the idea.  Once you've found homes for the objects you love,  you can...

  • Make a list of what else you will need;
  • Record needs and the size/height/colour of objects; 
  • Take pictures of the areas you want to accessorize;
  • Go shopping (with your phone)! Don't forget to look in second hand stores, antique stores, dollar stores, craft studios, and on line second hand sales sites.  

Oh yes, trade with your friends and/or siblings!

Check back for Part 3 of my accessories posts where I visit a local home to explore how the owners went about adding the final touches to their new home.


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