In design school we learned that accessories fill no useful function other than visual interest — such as a collection of glass balls. They aren’t truly useful at all, meaning they don’t act as potato peelers, or freshen the air, or do double duty as door stops. They are meant to beautify the space, add to the mood and feel of the room, and create a resting spot for the eyes. That’s it. But I think they do something more that is integral to the mood of a home. Read on.
The epitome of accessory use was most certainly the Victorian era; the public rooms were often quite full of wall paintings and shelves overloaded with tchotchkes, with doodads and photographs in ornate frames covering the surface of small tables.
The reason for all the stuff in the Victorian style was because it acted as conversation starters and memory-invokers. People would gather in the drawing room and talk; the accessories were often the conversation triggers. Now they make a lot more sense, don’t they?
For us this style is very busy and cluttered; it just doesn’t work with our lifestyles. But we have a modern version of this style which is more prevalent that you might think. Accessories play an important part in personalizing each space.
The modern version is the room filled with reminders of travels, previous homes, important people and events in our lives. We don’t display as many accessories as the Victorians, but we still have them. I have worked in homes with art and decor objects from all over the world. If you ask, ‘What a wonderful piece, what is the story behind it?,” you will often be delighted with the accounting of how the piece came into the family. Watch the homeowners eyes light up at the telling.
So, the moral of the story is: use your accessories to enhance the mood and feel of the room, sure, but don’t just choose them to look pretty. Choose accessories that mean something and display them in groups. Keep the mood and style in mind; this doesn’t mean you get to ignore all the design guidelines. Get something remade, shadow-box frame some stones from the sea shore in Blackpool.
Choose a whole bunch of family photos and frame them all in the same color. Display them together.
One funky button is just one funky button, but three makes a collection. And that’s worth talking about.