ayesha interior designs

The Art of Accessorizing


By Ayesha Karunaweera

Interior Designer

Greetings my dear readers, have you heard of the word “accessorizing” used by designers?  What does it really mean? The term comes from the meaning of the word “accent,” which means to stress, or emphasis. An accessory or an accent item in a home or an office may not even have any practical or utilitarian need for it, but it serves to draw the eye in and create a bit of excitement, its purpose is to add color, definition, and drama to an interior space. Don’t we all need that excitement in our life!

Accessories can be defined as the soul of home décor, it can either pull everything together and complete a space, or make it look clumsy and cluttered. Accessories placed thoughtfully in a space can tell a story, and can distinguish the homeowner’s lifestyle and even one’s personality! Whether it’s an old accent sculpture or a fancy piece of art, it’s all about the way you expose them. Presentation is key, People!

In this issue, I will be sharing a few tips and tricks that I use in my designs, when accessorizing a space.

Before we dive in to the nitty-gritty, I would like to indulge you my readers, with a brief history of Accessorizing. The art of accessorizing was established years ago by the ancient Greeks, who were indeed experts in design, scale and proportion. The Greeks discovered long ago that the use of proportions and following ratios in design, can be pleasing to the eye. A few of these still apply today, in the art of accessorizing. “The golden section rule”, “The golden mean rule” and arranging objects in odd numbers, are among a few of them.

The golden section rule-

This is also called “Divine proportion”. Some common ratios that designers work with are 2:3, 3:5, 4:7 and 5:8. If we take the 3:5 ratio as an example; The more harmonious width for a piece of art on the back wall with a 5 foot wide console against it would be 3 feet. It’s only common sense that a 6-foot-wide painting with a 5’ wide console will make it look very clumsy and top heavy.

The golden mean rule-

Artists and photographers are very familiar with this rule. They instinctively know that they should always avoid placing the subject of a picture in the middle of the frame. The outcome of that would be far too boring! This principle recognizes that the most pleasing arrangements require dividing the length of the area between ½ and 1/3. So when creating a vignette, avoid placing the accessory directly in the center of the table or shelf. Placing accessories off center in ultimately far more pleasing to the eye.

Arranging objects in odd numbers-

The Greeks observed that grouping objects in odd numbers is more pleasing to the eye than even numbers, as the results appear less studied. You will find that 3 throw cushions on a sofa look better than 2, or 5 vases varying in height look much better than 4 of the same height or even 6.

Some of my tips for styling a space are as follows;

Dress up your Focal Point

Every space should have a focal point and it’s easy to locate this. Usually a Large wall that would be perfect as a feature wall with the use of sets of artwork, an elegant mirror, or using a hefty clock, or a beautiful window with a great view that can be framed with tasteful drapes.

When working with hallways I always like to jazz things up by creating a setting at the focal point at the end. Be it, a console table with a sculpture placed on it, or a large vase with sticks arranged in an interesting way.


Layering adds dimension texture and interest, and there’s not much you can’t layer with, be it Rugs, textiles, Pillows, pictures and books! Throw in a few accent pillows in different colours and textures to jazz up a boring sofa, invest on a area rug to section the seating space and create a cozy feel, arrange a few coffee table books, on a center table to add some character. Go ahead, Layer it, baby!

Use trays

I love trays! Trays are great for giving purpose and grounding to a group of accessories you might have on a side table, as a center piece on a coffee table or console. It’s a fantastic way to put together, objects that don’t connect and clutter.

Go green

Using plants or flowers adds a sense of freshness, colour and life to any space. It can be artificial or fresh, it will still add a nice touch. I dare you to find any room featured in a magazine that doesn’t have a plant or flowers in it.

Change or add hardware

It’s amazing how much of an impact the hardware in a space can have. Decorate boring plain cupboard doors and drawer faces with handles and knobs that reflect and compliment the theme. Jazz it up with some crystal knobs, or add some character and old school charm with antique brass handles.

Hang some art

Art always adds a designer touch to a space, when properly sized (Remember the golden section, guys.., never pair small art with a large piece or vise versa)  Make sure you get the correct nail placement when doing this. Avoid hanging the art too high making it look like its floating in an abyss of white space above your sofa or console table. Leave about 5 to 6 inches between the bottom of your art and the top of your furniture, in order to tie the pieces together and make your room look more harmonious. Grouping corresponding art too far apart is yet another sin. It makes it look like your art hates each other and its an awkward situation for everyone! Leave no more than 3 inches to separate the frames. The frames need to group together as one.

One of my favorite parts of designing an interior is accessory scouting. There are so many choices here in Colombo and even a few unique pieces that you can pick up from street side vendors in Galle and Kandy. Colombo has so many interior décor shops that have lovely pieces. Odel home in Alexandra place, Country life in Ethul Kotte, HH interiors on De fonseca Rd and Paradise road are a few of my personal favs. “Kala pola” the open air art exhibition on Ananda Coomaraswamy Mw is definitely worth a visit, when looking for art.

So, this festive season why not add some pizazz to your interior, and try out the art of accessorizing. Go for it! Don’t be afraid to experiment, the results will definitely surprise you!  If you need any help, do let me know.

Wishing all my readers a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

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