Credit: Courtesy

Perhaps you’ve recently moved into a new home and have set up the furniture, yet it still doesn’t feel “done.” Or, as I hear from many of my clients, you’ve been living in your home for, say, five years or more — and it still doesn’t feel finished.

Most likely, it is because your home isn’t accessorized. In the design world, accessories generally refer to everything that’s not furniture and can include plants, throw pillows, artwork, photos, and vases. I think of accessories as the icing on the cake. You’ve already created the layers of the cake: the sofa, dining table, chairs, bed, and rugs. Now it’s time to complete the cake by adding the frosting. For variety, you’ll find that this analogy also works well with nachos, tacos, or seven-layer dip!

Credit: Sarita Relis Photography

Accessorizing, or styling, is often overlooked, but it’s a powerful way to complete a space. Accessories help add texture, dimension, color, and interest to a room while also allowing you to add your personality or family story to your home. Here are my top five tips to “frost” to your space.

Add accent furniture.  If your main living space includes a sofa, coffee table, rug, and perhaps some accent chairs, that’s a great start. To help complete the room, try adding some smaller pieces of furniture, such as an ottoman or pouf to a sitting area. If your sofa isn’t pushed against a wall, try adding a tall, narrow sofa table behind it with matching table lamps. Or consider adding a bar cart or sideboard in the dining room for a polished look. If you’re tight on storage space, think about adding items that will increase your storage options, such as an ottoman with storage inside or a bar cart with cabinet doors.

Bring in plants.  Adding indoor plants to a room not only brings the outside in but adds texture and color as well. Your furniture is likely fabric, wood, or leather, so adding plants brings another element to a space. Adding a large floor plant to a room can help it feel larger as the plant draws your eyes up. Or group your plants — one large plant and one medium plant — in a corner for extra layering. Not into watering plants? Neither am I. There are numerous types of artificial plants available at a variety of price points. Some look more real than others, so be sure to read reviews if you’re purchasing online.

Add texture and textiles.  Texture helps create layers and can be found in textiles used to make throw pillows, throw blankets, window treatments, rugs, or artwork. Adding throw pillows made of varying fabrics — velvet, mudcloth, linen, cotton, etc. — and in different patterns adds a layered look. These are also the items that are easiest to change out when you’re ready to refresh a space but don’t want to commit to new furniture. 

Credit: Sarita Relis Photography

Don’t forget the walls.  I often work with clients who haven’t hung much on their walls because they get stuck. Maybe the room is odd-shaped, or perhaps the cost of framing large art is prohibitive. Using wall art that is round or asymmetrical helps balance an odd-shaped room or one that has angled ceilings. If cost is an issue, try adding oversized, decorative flat baskets or other woven items, which can be relatively inexpensive. 

Always add a tray.  The quickest way to get a finished look for any tabletop surface is by adding a tray. Use items you already have on the surface like books, a vase, framed photos, coasters, etc. Group them together with a tray and you’ll instantly create a polished look. Maybe your coffee table is a collecting ground for magazines, the remote control, coasters, and other odds and ends. Add a tray and keep all these items inside the tray, and I promise it will feel complete. Top it off with a decorative bowl filled with a strand of large wood beads for a designer look!

I’d love to see photos of your accessorized home. Tag me on social media @vacayrentaldesign.  

Christine S. Cowles is the owner of Vacation Rental Design, an interior design company specializing in short-term rental properties. She is a certified Short-Term Rental Stylist™, member of Real Estate Staging Association, and a proud WEV graduate. She can be reached at


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