Posts Tagged ‘accessories’

living room - loft

I can’t take credit for the title of this blog; I read it somewhere recently, and I think my heart actually skipped a beat because I knew exactly what he meant. I know it was a designer who said it, and I think it was a gentleman, but it could have been in any one of the dozen magazines sitting in my china cabinet. Does anyone else store magazines in their china cabinet?

Any decorator will tell you that a home needs accessories, but I find that the word kind of reminds me of when my daughter was first told to study at school. Barely able to read, she said okay, went home and read her books; but she didn’t know what studying was, or why it needed to be done. We just assumed that if they were in school then they must have known how to learn. Fortunately, her teacher’s were wonderful, and it was a fleeting moment in time, but I sometimes think that accessories fall into that same category.

Waving our arms around, we say that you must accessorize, and while it all looks lovely and decorated when we are done, there is sometimes very little explanation about the magic behind the pretty room. In our haste, we forget to tell you the most important part.
Because accessories take time. They are the warmth in a home; the layers of comfort that draw us in, cozy us up, and tell us stories about the person who lives there. It’s about a journey, and they should feel collected (not as if you got trapped in a home goods store, and when they found you they said you could keep as much as you could carry).

Accessories are the bits and pieces that say who we are; they bring us happiness by being so cherished, and they allow others to really get to know us. They don’t need to be loud or provocative, they just need to be genuine; a carefully placed pile of books, no matter how beautiful, will always feel hollow if you bought them for looks instead of what was inside.
We want to know why you were compelled to buy that painting, or what made you love that rock so much that you didn’t mind paying the extra fee to bring it home in your suitcase. If it’s in your home it should matter to you.

If your need for accessories and doodads are few, then make them count; buy only for love, not just because it is on sale and someone said you needed to fill a space. Be open to looking in different shops, searching attics, and wandering through garage sales to discover what you are drawn to. Ask friends about their home, what they like, and why. If you still don’t know, go old school and tear out favorite magazine pages, or create an idea board on Pinterest.

There are no rules about what you should (and shouldn’t) like, but from a collected jar of pencils to the most exquisite piece of art, your accessories should make you smile, and they should be able to speak for you.

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/

Photograph is from www.mydomaine.com

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Styling shelves can be a little overwhelming. Although you want each shelf to look good, you also have to look at the collection of shelves as a whole. First things first, begin placing the items you have the most of. In this case it’s books, but it might be a collection of pottery or plates. Now start placing these items in some kind of pattern formation. You can start on the top left, work down to the right, and back over again. You may choose to leave some shelves blank while filling the others entirely. Stand back and look at what you’ve created a few times before moving forward. In fact, take photos as you go so you can reference past designs that you preferred. Now go ahead and add in a sprinkling of color, pattern, and texture with a variety of accessories.


  • Use bottom shelves for storage. They’re perfect for boxes or baskets and to store mass market paperbacks, magazines or newspapers without adding visual clutter.
  • Never place family photos on any shelves below eye level or on the very top.
  • Never accessorize the top of shelves unless you’re finished with the shelves first. (And you don’t have to touch the top if you don’t want to.)
  • Bring books forward so you can see them and have better access. (Bonus: you now have extra storage behind books and accessories.)
  • Hanging pictures or mirrors can be attractive, but think how functional this technique actually is. If it gets in the way of reaching for the things you need, don’t do it.
  • Alternate both horizontal and vertical placement of books. Horizontally placed books make great pedestals for accessories!
  • Don’t cram too much in. Even with a packed case, you still need to leave a little negative space. Notice the gaps between shelves walls and books and accessories.

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pic monkey collage thingsThe other day I went to sleep with most of the windows open. It was one of those deliciously breezy nights, where I almost didn’t care whether I slept or not; all I wanted to do was listen to the trees, feel the cool air, and dream of sweet, Summer days.

But, because of the breeze (enough to send a vase flying, and knock almost everything off my desk) I balled up a t-shirt and put it against the bedroom door to stop it from slamming shut. As I lay back in bed, thinking my lovely thoughts, all I could think of was that I had just crumpled up one of my favorite tops. Yes, it needed a wash, but now it would also be covered in dog hair, the cat will probably sleep on it, and the image of it being on the floor didn’t exactly fit in with all of my idyllic imagining…. So, I got up, put it in the laundry hamper and grabbed a favorite rock off my dresser to place against the door instead (everyone has rocks in their bedroom, right?).

This week, inspired by my favorite rock, I wanted to share with you some photographs of a few ordinary, beautiful things.

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/

Photograph Credits: CHANDELIER – Wendy’s,  BUTTONS – Kate Kessling,  HELLO MAT – The Store,  PLATES – Pinterest, SOAP DISH Pinterest, MASON JAR SOAP DISPENSER – She Knows,  EGGS – Wendy’s,  SHAVING CUP –  Butcher Shop Glasgow, STRING TIN – Pinterest,  I LOVE CAKE – Pinterest,  ROCK DOOR STOP – Shelterness,  DUTCH OVEN – Ebay

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My sister alters her clothes herself; if a top is too long, she will cut it, if pants are too big, she will adjust them, and if she doesn’t like the buttons, she will sew on new ones. This seems normal to her, but when she first suggested I manipulate a shirt to suit my shape, I was a little scared. I thought you bought them, and wore them. Not being a seamstress, it never occurred to me to change them myself, and a tailor seemed like a luxury that you kept for special occasions.

So, last week, as I painted matte black nail polish over a bright silver buckle on my belt, I realized that what she was doing, what she had taught me, was what I actually do all the time with my work. We tweak it. We work with what we have, and we make it fit (creatively, of course).

It got me thinking about all of the things in our homes that we can tweak ourselves. Not big DIY projects, but small adjustments that make a difference, and make our homes a bit more personal. One of the things I get told quite often, is that clients don’t want their house to look like everyone elses; they cringe when they show me the generic print that came from the wall of a popular retail store, but they bought it because they liked it, and it fit the space. (What they didn’t like was that their neighbors also had the same print, the same size, with the same frame).

As someone who once painted her entire sofa with coffee (to create an antique finish, of course), I thought I would share with you a few easy things that are not as drastic as painting your sofa, but will still make a significant impact to normal (generic) everyday items.

– Knobs, hooks and other hardware: If shiny metal, consider using sandpaper to make them less new, and buff them with dark stain to age them. Try nail polish remover to remove some of the coating, and let them age naturally. If you want metal to look more modern, try high quality colored nail polishes (the colors are far more interesting and varied than metal paint. Plus, the brush is perfect for small surfaces).
For wood hardware, stain, paint, polyurethane or distress, depending on your style. Decide the look you what you want, then make it happen.

– Generic paintings and photographs. Change out the frame with something unexpected. If it is a fancy painting, get a simple frame, and vice versa. Buy an extra large mat (or several in different sizes) and create a big frame around a tiny picture. If it is an inexpensive print, try altering it a little with random paint splatters, a light wash of another color, or a little bit of crackle paint. Be unpredictable.

– Lampshades: Add buttons, felt polka dots, or upholstery trim with a hot glue gun. I have even painted them before, and although it works, it does alter the light that it gives off, so be careful if it is a task light. Have fun with this, and treat it as an inexpensive accessory.

– Appliances: Buy replacement knobs, and drip plans in different colors/metals. than it came with (usually on-line, and very inexpensive). Appliance paint I haven’t used, so will leave that up to you (I know one person who had a terrible time with it, and a few others who had great success with it).

Whatever you do, never assume that what you have is what you have to live with; like clothes, many things can be adjusted to suit you and your style. A generic budget doesn’t have to mean that your home is limited and boring, it just requires a little bit of creativity. But, I wouldn’t advise painting your sofa with coffee – it took ages to dry, I never got rid of the stale coffee smell, and, well, I admit, it was just kind of weird….

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/ Photograph borrowed from the, always fun to read, Apartment Therapy

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“Have you heard of Juju hats? I must have one for my house! You must blog about them!”, a friend wrote to me earlier this week. Of course, I googled them, not knowing what they were, but presuming they weren’t some type of archaic medicinal type of voodoo device, that was worn on the head to scare away the bad guys. 

Up popped these wonderfully whimsical, feathery concoctions hanging on beautiful, large walls. I knew why she loved them. After seeing the price (originally handmade in Cameroon), we instantly started wondering if we could make our own, what color we would use and where we would put them. Eternally optimistic, we added it to our wish list.

Later that night, I was flicking through a magazine, when I came across an entire line of accessories made from Shagreen. Again, I hadn’t heard of this. Apparently, years ago, the skins of sharks and stingrays were used to make cigarette holders and the like, giving an exotic appeal to something quite ordinary. Now, it is being reinvented in a kind of faux way (with the assurance that they are no longer being made from real shark or stingray).  A strange, pebbly texture, it seems a bit like suede, and is now being used for all sorts of things, but mainly decorative items like picture frames and vases. 

Not sure if the Juju and Shagreen will be a long-lasting trend, but the point is to suggest something new; they make us stop and think, pass them by, or fall in love with them. It’s up to us.

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/

Gorgeous, gerbera type Juju hat picture from the Brown Button blog (who, in 2010, was further ahead of the trend than I was).

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Sometimes, we are reluctant to give up the much-loved items that we covet. We become disorganized collectors of things that we simply must have (and keep). But, for many of us, excess can be just another reason to decorate!
Keep what you have, but be creative.  Often, interesting (and decorative) solutions can be found for the same price as a hum-drum piece of rubbish. Don’t hide things away in boxes or cupboards. If you love it, show it… 


Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/ Thanks to: Pottery Barn, Urban Outfitters and CSN stores for the photographs.                 

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