Accessories: Maximize with minimum

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press• Nov. 17, 2012

Photo: Ballard Designs

Photo: Ballard Designs

World map printed canvases reproduced from an actual 1937 map. Photo: Ballard Designs.

Accessories for the home are the most important part of interior decorating. They are the icing on the cake. The finishing touch.

Done well, they reflect our tastes, our style, our travels, our dreams, what we love. They are the soul of our home.

Repurposed vintage table is used for shell and glass collection.Done not so well, they create visual overload and just look like a bunch of stuff that was purchased to fill empty spaces. Meaningless bits that in a year will be thrown out. But a grouping that has been thought out allows you to relax and makes you feel calm.

Coco Chanel knew a lot about accessories.

She said that “simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.”

She knew that the simplest possessions in our homes, just like in jewelry or fashion, are often the most meaningful. And so it is with accessories. Less is usually more.

Accessories are often the most difficult part of interior decorating. Not because we don’t have enough of them but because they are often not properly displayed.  Just as we do when deciding on paint colors, furniture purchases, window treatments, flooring and fabric, a plan is needed to make accessories work for the home.

One of my favorite places to take clients accessory shopping is Angela Fine Furnishings in the Miromar Design Center in Estero.  Owner Angela Lossia showcases beautifully displayed collections that appeal to a variety of design styles and price ranges, thus making it easy to visualize how they will look at home.

And the good news, says Lossia, is that “you can update your home and give it a fresh feeling without redoing everything.  Just change the accessories and you will have a totally new look.”

Lossia also says that is seeing a trend toward enamels and metallic pieces that will add sparkle to your home for the upcoming season. 

Tips for decorating with accessories

If you see an arrangement of accessories catches your eye and speaks to you, it is likely that the selection and grouping is done utilizing some of the following tips. So whether you have a home filled with treasures and you need help organizing them or you are starting from scratch, check out these suggestions:

Think in threes: This works like magic! On an end table, place a lamp, a vase of flowers and a beautiful wooden box.

Coffee table: Use a tray to group items. A stack of books topped with a small vase of flowers or bowl of shells and a candle.

Group collections together: They have more meaning and impact than when they are scattered around the house. And speaking of collections, only one per room.

Art and accessories: Compliment a tabletop of accessories in an entry with a piece of art that forms a connection to the accessories.

Contrast: Display accessories against a contrasting background. For example, paint the wall behind shelving or display against a blood paint color or wallpaper.

Balance: Use different shapes and sizes. Balance tall objects with several smaller ones, all in the same color palette.

Create vignettes: This the most fun way of displaying accessories. Use a pair of vintage shutters in the background and layer furniture and accessories against it.

Flea market finds:  Find a treasure and it can be a wonderful accent piece and will also provide a place to display a collection.

Pillows: Choose a color palette and use pillows of different patterns and sizes.

Rotate: Too many accessories and you can’t think about parting with any of them? Rotate them seasonally to avoid clutter.

Keep things in context: Maps should go in the study, shell collection can go in the bathroom,  a collection of antiques perfume bottles works in the powder room.

Layer: Tall pieces should go in the back. Use pedestals or books for layering.

Bookshelves: A good rule is to display one third books, one third art, one third of the space should stay open and uncluttered.

And the best tip of all: “When accessorizing, always take off the last thing you put on.” Coco Chanel.

This also works for your home. Take away what isn’t working. Remember, simple is best!

Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator. Visit her website at Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail For more decorating tips and photos, visit

Want to turn plain rooms into Spectacular Spaces? I can help. Contact me! Follow me on Facebook.