How home accessories can make your décor pop

Finishing Touches For Less

by Chantal King

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Every decorator will tell you that home accessories can make or break a room. The whole ambiance can change dramatically with a few carefully chosen pieces. I worked in a design store for seven years that caters almost exclusively to home accessories called Finishing Touch. Often it is the final few elements of the room that pull it together and give it that unique look.

The best news is that accessorizing your room doesn't have to break your budget. In fact, I pulled our Safari-style living room together in three days by gathering the perfect home accessories from thrift stores, garage sales and relocating some items from other rooms. Groom your room with these easy tips.

Quality almost always wins over quantity. Three treasured teapots are better than sixteen scattered all over a room. Collections pack a powerful punch when grouped together in a stunning display. Again, quality doesn't equal expensive. I found some of my most treasured accessories at second hand stores for less than a $1.

Odd beats even in dècor. The best groupings are of three or five objects, of varying heights. For example, a tall slender candlestick anchors the group. An attractive 8x10 frame is angled beside it. A unique marble ball rests atop a short fluted holder to complete the grouping. Choose styles and colors that complement each other and the overall theme or style of the room.

Pairs of matching items or even numbers in groupings denote a more formal look. For instance, a large picture or mirror could hang above the fireplace mantel. Flank it with matching, elegant candlesticks, a set of polished vases and a finely detailed treasure box with hand painted designs. Another formal grouping is matching lamps on identical end tables at either end of a sofa.

Older is often better. A "new" style of dècor is Vintage Modern. Retailers and designers cash in on the timeless elegance of classic styles and "antiques" but tack on a thoroughly modern price tag. Beat them at their own game by finding authentically old furniture and accessories at garage sales, flea markets and auctions for a fraction of the cost. Use a little paint or refinish the piece, or leave it as is for a comfortable "vintage" look.

Do you like the romantic curves of the Victorian era? Or do you prefer the sleek lines of contemporary living? Maybe you like a blending of old and new styles. Decide on the theme or look that you want, then go shopping for candlesticks, statues, pictures, lamps, knick knacks, baskets, boxes, plates or anything that catches your eye. It helps to bring along paint chips, carpet and fabric samples to match.

Go for the unusual and unique home accessories. No one wants a cookie-cutter home. An old garden statue you rescued from a garage sale could become a one-of-a-kind plant stand by adding a tabletop. Or that Buddha-esque statue could bring an Asian flair to your otherwise stark room. Add a small lantern and a bowl of golden balls to complete the look for a very inexpensive price. (You can paint toy balls, Styrofoam balls or even plastic fruit like oranges.)

The fastest and easiest way to stamp your own personality on your home is through the finishing touches. Save money by shopping smart. Go for the unique, not the high price tag. Pick home accessories with attitude and your well-groomed room will shine.

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