By Kathryn Weber

Model home decorators and furniture store owners know this fact: Accessories make the room. It's the finishing touch that finalizes the look, much like that sprinkling of parsley on a plate at a restaurant. And smart accessorizing is often the secret weapon that makes a sale. It's that pulled together look that makes a room look smart, chic and unified. Although designers know how to pull this off, many homeowners don't.

Here are some rules and secrets to help you accessorize with style:

The first step is to clear out a room.

Take everything off the mantle, bookshelves and tops of tables, including lamps. With a clear palette, you can see where you need to add or change items. This also helps you to see the room more clearly and what it needs with nothing to distract you.

Next, centralize your accessories.

Place all the removed items on the dining room table where you can see them as a group. Seeing them together will help you determine if there's a continuity of design and if the items look right together. Next, start making groupings, such as you would on a side table. Work on one table or bookshelf at a time.

When you stand back to look at your groupings, you'll begin to see items you're missing, or that you have too many of one type or size. Soon, you'll have a sense of what accents you need, such as something tall or substantial. Or, you might notice that there's no continuity and everything is mismatched, with no cohesion.

Knock it off

If you like a particular style or look, take a photo from a design magazine to your favorite home decorating store and use it to create your shopping list. Pick up items that mimic the ones in the magazine and will help you recreate the look at home. You'll also want to pick up items that are missing from your arrangements.

Be sure to look for one or two pieces that will be able to occupy a space all by themselves, such as a large art glass bowl -- so important if you have a large or open concept home, where size is exaggerated. These items are often reasonably priced and command attention more than a conglomeration of small things that quickly look cluttered.

If you don't have any continuity in your design, try buying several accessories in a similar theme but in varying sizes that can be grouped together. This designer trick never fails.

Arrange it

Back at home, fill in the vignettes with the missing items you purchased. Try to create small scenes with an asymmetrical shape. The symmetry can lean either left or right but should create a pleasing effect to the eye. Don't forget the little touches; a book with a small figure on top can look terrific.

Now it's time to move your accessories into to the room.

Work at creating balance in your accents, such as placing a round item with square items vs. all round shapes together. Add some nice greenery touches and you're all set.


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Home & Garden - Accessorize Your Home Like a Pro