4 Simple Tips For Accessory Shopping: How To Find Perfect Piece For Your Home

interior decor store accessory bust of woman

Image by jhenning 

Finding that perfect accessory piece to accent your home, or even just a specific room, can be a bit challenging. With the popularity of home décor channels such as HGTV and the retail market expanding as it has, there is hardly a need to hire someone to find those perfect accessories – if you know what to look for.

The biggest challenge I find is that my clients know when they like what they see on a retail shelf. Then comes the question, “how do I use this in my house?” 

You will be glad to know there are a couple of tricks we use in the trade to find that perfect piece to finish a room off like a pro! Read on.

First Consider Accessory Shape

One could argue that the art of accessorizing is knowing how to place the different elements together in your room.

No matter what your design aesthetic, every room should have a mix of various shapes and sizes within it. If the furniture that you have selected is very clean-lined and square shaped, the room would benefit to add a round or oval-shaped element. Maybe even an abstract-shaped table with a round chair perhaps, just to add some interest.

a photo of interior decor on a mantel

Photo from Ellen Phillips archive

No matter what your design aesthetic, every room should have a mix of various shapes and sizes within it. Because linear design is so popular right now, I find the shape of the item is of the utmost importance.

If I have a room with too many boxy elements, the space will feel monotonous. Perhaps there are too many elements with curves on it and it is just repetitious.

Take a moment to step back and analyze your space and determine the repetitive shapes or sizes.  From there you can consider the elements that are missing. 

You also want to consider the height of the items and how they will look together and with the elements in the periphery. Bringing in alternating heights of multiple pieces will create a skyline effect for added interest. 

Keep your focus when accessory shopping

When walking around accessory outlets such as Z Gallerie or Anthropology, it’s hard not to be captivated with the eye-candy of those stores. The retail offering is fabulous.


I encourage you to take an afternoon and window shop to get some ideas of what is out in the retail market and readily available. Do this before you begin designing your space as you may find things that take your plan in a new direction.

If there is a trick to shopping for that perfect accessory piece, it is keeping the space in mind and knowing the size and shape of what you need for specific areas. It is easy to be distracted with the amazing retail offering right now. 

Pro Tip: Use Keywords

When I was first working in the design field, I had some great mentors who helped me to understand this concept. They would use a lot of adjectives that really put forth the style I was looking for. More than just words like “traditional” or “modern”. 

I found that shopping with these words written down in front of me helped to stay on track and not be distracted buy all the cool things I was seeing on the shelves.

Words such as

  • Gutsy
  • Substantial
  • Boxy
  • Delicate
  • Serpentine
  • Coarse
  • Textural

Using these type of adjectives will help to minimize distractions while you are shopping and looking for that perfect, exclusive piece. 

If you are looking for a lamp, don’t just think, “I need a lamp”. That isn’t descriptive enough to find what you need. Try looking for a muted, weathered, bulbous lamp. Now you are on track! 

a photo of interior design with a Zen giraffe

Photo from Ellen Phillips archive

Consider Your Full Color Scheme - Not Just The Item You Are Looking For

Finally, you want to keep your focus on the color of the object. Many times, I’ve found the absolute perfect piece but it is the wrong color and I know it just will not work in that space.

That said, if you consider the elements surrounding the space you are accessorizing, the color of the object is crucial. 

Bring pieces of your fabrics or paint chips with you as you shop so you can really be sure to get the perfect color. Remember that the perfect accessory can add pop to a room, so matching isn’t always the way to go. Coordinating is! 

Don’t lament that the piece is perfect. If it isn’t the right color, then it isn’t perfect. 

Final Note: Shopping Tips

Here are some tips to help fine-tune your shopping:

  • Take a photo on your phone of the space that you need to accessorize. Be sure that the photo is wide enough so you can see the periphery objects.
  • Consider the colors of the room and the lighting in the room. If you think you need something that is charcoal or deep navy in color but the space is dark, you may want to consider how a light color piece will work in that situation.
  • Take a moment and really look at the space and imagine different shapes in the area you are trying to fill. If you have at a tall cabinet and you know you want something on top of it, imagine that cabinet with boxes on top and then perhaps a book vignette with lamps and other accessory vignettes. Imagining the possibilities before you go out will help give you direction.
  • Make a list! Even if you find something else wonderful when you are shopping, having a list to stay on track always helps. 
  • Finally, while you do want to have direction and a purpose for what you’re shopping for, it is essential to keep your mind open to what you can find. I have often heard clients tell me they want a specific thing in a space. Yet, while we are shopping, they may see something else that they had never considered and we ended up purchasing that item.

Accessories and Art sound like an easy part of an interior, but they can be the most challenging. Size, scale, color, texture all play a art in bringing the look together.

If you find you are stuck on a design project, let me know.  Perhaps I can give you a new direction that you hadn’t considered! 

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Ellen Phillips

Living a Beautiful Life

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