A Guide to Choosing Home Accessories

by Rebecca Bourne in Designer style at home

Choosing home accessories is an integral part of interior design, not just as a finishing touch that comes after all of the ‘major’ plans have been made.

Accessories have a direct impact on how we perceive a space. Sculptures, soft furnishings, books and art can transform a room and evoke emotions, and the large variety available can make it an intimidating selection. Hameed Hani from the interior design team at 5MM Design shares his practical advice for choosing decorative accessories for the most neglected areas of the home.

“Choosing home accessories should relate to how the space will be used, and what the client wants to achieve, whether that’s to make the space look bigger, add a sense of warmth or convey personality and tastes” says Hameed.

Entrances and Hallways

This is one of the most important spaces as it’s a guest’s first impression of your home, and sets the mood of their experience. “I’d recommend having one hero piece in your hallway, to leave an impression” Hameed says. “A large-scale item like sculpture or wall art, which is striking but proportionate to the space. Wall art is a great option in long, narrow hallways as it does not take up any floor space.” 5MM Design uses its Atlas Beetle Photography artwork in this Marble Arch residence, and it draws the viewer’s eye towards the end of the hallway.

“There are also several practical options for entrances,” Hameed continues. “Mirrors are an essential, as the reflections open up the hallway to appear larger, and are useful for checking your appearance before heading out. Console tables are also a popular choice, and combine a design statement with functionality. My recipe for styling the perfect entrance hall console table is a mirror and a decorative object which adds fun to the scheme and relates to other décor in the house. This could be done through materials used or motif. Finish it off with a candle or reed diffuser to add the sensory experience of fragrance, and a catch-all.”

“Catch-all dishes and trays are a must-have for every home entrance. We used a Hermes Pegasus horse catch-all to compliment the wire figurine in the entrance to this Covent Garden home. Our Bird Bowl Catch-all will suit most homes, because of its classic shape with natural detailing, in fashionable brass.”

Living and Reception Rooms

“For me, coffee tables are the most important item to style in the living room as it is the centrepiece of the space. Do not clutter the table, as that will make the room feel disorganised. I tend to keep the styling to a minimum when it comes to our projects.” Hameed says.

“There is no need to have a statement piece on your coffee table, as that will distract from the rest of the room. Instead, choose one or two large-scale coffee table books, and fresh flowers and candles on a tray to balance the sense of scale in relation to the books. If you have a glass-topped coffee table with a lower layer, play with volume by keeping the top clear and stack accessories underneath.”

Soft furnishings are also an essential element of living room spaces, but choosing complementary cushions can often present a challenge, especially when adding patterns.

“Mixing patterns and colours will always add a touch of fun to a scheme. However, it can lose its luxurious feeling easily. The key to successfully mixing patterns is the quality of the fabrics that are used. Invest in high quality fabrics that will enhance the motifs. I like to contrast patterned cushions by including a plain-backed side; cotton velvets and pure wool fabrics are ideal for creating a luxurious feel. Don’t be scared of keeping one colour story throughout your soft furnishings, as it creates a strong visual effect. I used this warm palette for the living room of our Marble Arch project.”

Shelving and display units are also areas of the home where some carefully chosen accessories can transform the overall appearance. Artfully styled shelving units appear frequently in 5mm Design’s portfolio, as Hameed explains: “Not every shelf has to be filled, especially in the case of large display units. The fewer items on the shelf, the more visual impact they have, as they won’t distract the eye. Limit the styling to one statement piece, for example, we chose a Lorenzo Quinn sculpture as the main focal point in this Mayfair project, supported by reflective vases.”

“A popular and practical storage choice, sideboards pair best with tall accessories to balance out their horizontal lines.” Hameed says. “One large piece will create maximum impact, I like to use animal sculptures, horns, or even long crystal vases, paired with artwork.”

And what about those difficult corners? It’s not uncommon to plan out the major pieces of furniture within a space, and find that some areas are too dark, bare, or simply out of balance with the rest of the room. Again, Hameed shares his advice: “You can take advantage of dead corners to play with large-scale items or add mood lighting with sculptural floor lamps. Metallic items are great to use as well, because the polished finish on metals acts as a mirror and reflects light into the space - but avoid using chunky, solid items as they can overwhelm the room.” This is also an excellent place to add planters, as more and more people are adopting living greenery at home, part of the wider trend towards jungle-inspired interiors.

Bedroom and Bathroom

Most homeowners aim to create a relaxing atmosphere in the bedroom, so there is less demand for dramatic art or focal points. But that doesn’t mean that accessories don’t play an important role. “Keep the selection to a smaller scale for bedside tables and dressing tables, but use luxurious materials like agate or fresh flowers,” Hameed explains.

“For the bedroom and bathroom, don’t be afraid to use delicate sculptures to add a sophisticated touch, and make sure to add scented candles. One of my favourite tricks is to use unexpected ‘plates’ for hand towels, like the coral bowls I added to our Covent Garden project. Coral is an excellent choice for bathrooms as it alludes to the coast without being clichéd.”

To use Hameed’s design advice in your own home, browse the full selection of accessories here, and see more examples of how they’ve been used in 5MM Design’s project portfolio.

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