I couldn’t agree more with Clairee, in “Steel Magnolias,” when she declared, “The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize.”
A room that has the correct foundation but lacks interest is generally a room in need of touches that can come only from just the right accessory.
I recently overheard a designer use the term “house jewelry” when describing the critical final touches that make a house special. Just as in personal dressing, a room can be lavished with “house jewelry” or it can be streamlined.
My favorite house jewelry is lighting. Forget the table lamps with ivory polyester shades that your mom brought home from JC Penney. Search for at least one accent lamp that is a piece of art. The shade is just as significant as the base of an accent lamp, so look for unusual materials such as raw silks, linen, brocade and leather. Trims and crystal add excitement and interest to shades. Don’t forget to illuminate a lamp– it will come to life with the right shade.
The next layer of accessorizing your room is textile. Window treatments, pillows and throws soften the room visually and acoustically. Silks offer an opulent sheen while linens, chenille and velvets bring texture to the picture.
The next layer of “house jewelry” would be art. Original, fine art is a perfect choice for the perfect world. If you are not living in the perfect world, there are still options that fill the need. Techniques which add the illusion of brush strokes can provide the richness of original hand painting. Whether original or reproduction, the frame is as important as the art. Old-world art is best fearured with a rich, substantial frame. Modern pieces demand cleaner lines and color that does not compete with the art.
Finally, the last layer of room dressing would be the doo-dads, the baubles and the tchotchkes. These are defined as the “stuff.” They are the personal mementos, the pottery, vases and the frames. Books fall into this category. Basically, it is the bits and pieces that can be arranged and rearranged to gives final polish to a room.
When the foundation of a beautiful room has been laid, it is “house jewelry” that provides the final distinction and personality.