How to use accessories to enhance your home

Award-winning designer Jenny Allan on why accessories should be used throughout the house.

The way a room is accessorised is an important part of a successful scheme, as it is the finishing touches that take a design to the next level. Accessories should be included throughout the house to create a homely, dressed feel without being too cluttered.


Shelving is the most popular way to display accessories and there are certain methods that can make a shelving display look more stylish. Firstly, symmetry is a fundamental design principle and should be introduced within accessory displays. For example, balancing a shelving scheme by placing two pieces of coral on one side and then two picture frames on the other, using their different shapes and textures to stop the design become too regimented.

Size and shape

Varying the size and shape of accessories is also important to create an interesting style so by using tall vases on the shelf above with one low wide accessory below helps to further balance the display. Using accessories in groups of three is also an effective display tool.

Another way to enhance a shelving unit is to include mirrored back panels and downlights or LED lighting strips which will really add to the drama of the design. They can also make a room feel larger and lighter which is always a bonus.


Other areas that benefit from the addition of accessories are tables. Side tables can simply be accessorised by a small vase or bowl with flowers, a picture frame, agate or perhaps a couple of crystal champagne flutes. These small additions create a big impact and make the room feel dressed and welcoming rather than empty or overly cluttered.

Coffee tables can be accessorised in many ways and the items chosen should reflect the purpose of the room. For example, in a living room plenty of coffee table books, perhaps a diffuser, a textured item and photo frames are ideal.

However, in a games rooms the use of the coffee table would be very different, so include tumblers on a tray, playing cards and other items which would be more appropriate. You can even have coffee tables made that have trays built into them which is a useful feature to include.

Another table to accessorise is the console table which lends itself to floral displays, table lamps and sculptural pieces. As with display shelving adding a mirror above the console gives the accessories greater impact and in turn improves the room’s balance and aesthetic.

Accessories can really transform a home and taking time to select the right objects that complement each other to beautifully enhance a room is definitely time well spent.