How to Decorate with Accessories

When it comes to perking up a room with accessories, you can have a lot more fun than just heading to the home store for pillows. We have ideas for arranging, finding, and incorporating fun details into your decor.

Travel Mementos

Think beyond the scrapbook when it comes to those special menus, train schedules, theater stubs, and photographs. Group a coordinated set of small frames holding ephemera from your last trip. Turn one display space into a concentrated vacation re-creation and group all your treasures there.

Antique Toys

For all you flea market fanatics -- or parents who just can’t bear to toss the kids’ beloved race cars and baby dolls -- old-school toys are some of the sweetest room accessories you can find. Group them together on a vintage display table like this one, or in sets of three around a room to give a nostalgic feel to any space.

Organize Displays

You're not condemned to a room full of clutter if you like to load your shelves with keepsakes and collectibles. Use trays, baskets, bowls, and vases to organize tabletop treasures, grouping like-color or themed pieces together. A neat stack of favorite books always looks great. If you've got a complete collection of one item, consider hitting the antique shop or home store for a display cabinet that gathers all the pieces into one striking setup. Hint: Glass-front display cabinets mean no dusting!

Go to the next slide to see how to style a bookcase.

Learn how to arrange a bookcase and create perfectly styled shelves every time.

How to Style a Bookcase

Put your accessories on perfect display with these arranging and styling tricks.

Book It

There’s perhaps no collection that’s easier, cheaper, or prettier to display than books. Hit an estate sale to snap up local-themed tomes that you can mine for wall art within the pages. Shop the thrift-store for paperbacks or hardcovers all in one color -- most are handsomely clothbound beneath the dust cover. Or gather together your beloved favorites with a pretty ribbon for a simple table-topper.

Fit to be Tied

Arrange your favorite objects in tight groups. Switch up heights and shapes in displays to make collections read more like art. If you have a collection that you’re worried will go clattering to the ground with a slight nudge of the coffee table, bind pieces together with a cute ribbon or with a piece of neutral garden twine. A pop of fresh color draws the eye to these dainty bottles.

Contrast Makes It Click

When you make a little visual noise with a piece that you love, the result is really striking. Here, a grouping of white accessories against a black background serves as one of the coolest looks you can pull off. Brilliant green plants look amazing in crisp white rooms. The ping of an orange lamp base in a quietly neutral room commands attention. These ideas prove a little contrast can go a long way.

Mirror, Mirror

If you're looking for a budget-friendly way to liven up a wall, consider a collection of mirrors. You can have a lot of fun shopping in crafts stores or garage sales to find mirrors of varying size, shape, and age. If you're going for a set, unify by painting the frames the same color, or just let the basic use be the connection.

Design Your Bliss

Recreational gear will take you to your happy place -- fast. Are you a lake lover? Hang a handmade canoe paddle on the wall. Sailing your thing? Group gorgeous model boats on the mantel. Are you a beach bum? A vintage life preserver is instant wall art. Wistful for your backpacking days? Do you daydream of the slopes? Antique skis and snowshoes are all over eBay. Think of what makes you happy -- and gravitate there with a room design.

Game On

Look to your game closet for some accessory inspiration. Wall-size Scrabble tiles can customize a word-crazy kid’s room. Add a spot of fun in the family room by mounting vintage game boards on the wall (feel free to take them down when you’re ready for a quick round of backgammon). Classic British pub dartboards look great -- you can buy squares of slate and drill holes to hang for a good-looking and functional way to tally the scores.

Make Music

Your attic collection of old band instruments and sheet music can make an instant accessory theme for the music lover in your family. Frame the sheet music or place the instruments on mounted shelving.

The Lineup

If you have a collection that’s striking by itself, you don’t have to get fancy with groupings or displays. Simply line a wall-length shelf to border the room with your pieces. This works great with collections of globes, pitchers, plates, apothecary jars, vintage cookbooks, and pottery.

Wall Accessories

When it comes to sprucing up the verticals, you don’t have to limit yourself to hanging art -- there are so many great wall treatment options out there. Most home stores sell wall decals -- peel-and-stick designs that add a gorgeous touch of art that’s easily removed when you want a change. Removable wallpaper is a great option for the commitment-phobic who adore the look of a high-impact design, and they’re readily available at home stores and wallpaper sites. Wall stencils are a great custom option, too, with lots of great options on Etsy.

Best Botanicals

If you’re a plant lover, you’ve got lots of great options for accessories. You can cultivate your own terrarium, or fill Mason jars, fun coffee cups, or old trophies with herbs for a mini greenhouse effect. Track down some old botany books and frame your favorite pages.

Small Seat

If your room is short on space but you like to entertain, the space-saving stool is cool. Go for the Moroccan pouf, or choose a classic design with hidden storage. A small seat is also a good way to experiment with high-impact fabrics -- don’t shy away from animal prints or busy patterns. You’ve got nothing to lose when the piece is only taking up a foot of real estate.

Completely Floored

If you had an entirely empty room except for an amazing rug, you'd still have an awesome space. That's how important your floor covering choice can be. You can rarely go wrong with a classic Persian, or a crazy-deep statement-making shag. But don't write off the possibility of a fresh pattern or a bold color -- especially if your walls are neutral and your palette is otherwise mellow.

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