The Finishing Touch – Accessory Display

It is surprising that something which seems so simple can take an incredible amount of time (and money).  It is not just the positioning of those vases, scatter cushions, candles, books and general accessories that make the hours from my day disappear, it is the running around and sourcing of each individual item, filling the car to the max…only to arrive at the house to realise that I didn’t bring enough, or that certain items don’t work and need to be returned. But when you get it right, it is so worth it.  Those little annoying vases really do make a world of difference, all the months spent choosing paint colours, couches and wallpapers are pulled together with these last finishing touches.


While I am a true believer in the old design mantra: “Less is more”, I also believe that we need the right accessories to create those finishing touches otherwise the room will look too bare.  You just need to find that right balance of creating interest without cluttering.  So how do you start setting out all these accessories?


Firstly I would suggest pulling out all of those goodies that mean something to you.  Objects that have been handed down to you, or unique pieces you have collected on your travels.  Those nostalgic details will add that personal touch you need in a home, and they can easily be combined with other accessories to create a fantastic display.  You will find that visitors will often comment on those unusual pieces that stand out and then there is a great story to tell about how you acquired that piece.


Next, there is a trick that designers and decorators use when working with accessories.  We like to play around with something I call “grouping”.  I say play around because this is actually what I do, and I don’t always get it right the first time.  To start you simply take those interesting pieces that you love and start putting them out on the coffee table, server, shelf in the home.  Then you take all the other accessories you have accumulated over the years (or over the last few shopping sprees) and start to group these other accessories with the main feature item.  You can do this on any empty surface, just start putting items together.  The real trick is not put too many out.  Next, you stand back and really study what you have done with a critical eye and decide whether or not you like the effect. There will usually be something that doesn’t look quite right, remove that item and replace it with something else, stand back and repeat the whole process till you find the combination that just works.


The photos above demonstrates the idea of grouping items together.  You can see that any number of shapes and sizes of vases, candles, books, big and little accessories can be grouped together to make a wonderful, yet simple setting.  Even the dog looks like he is just meant to be there!  You do need a starting point though (otherwise you will spend hours pondering what to put down) so this is why I recommend having items you feel strongly about that you can place first to start the ball rolling. Perhaps you just like the colour of a vase and that is then the feature piece.


It is very easy to start over doing the grouping so keep it simple, the empty space around the accessories is just as important as the accessories themselves.  Otherwise you don’t know what to look at because there is just too much going on.  You need to find just the right balance.  Where you have a lot of shelving you can use a smaller shelf to show off that special piece, because on a small shelf the item takes up the space and will not look lost.  However you should then use the bigger shelves to group items together, again creating areas of interest.


Another little trick we use is “Play with height”.  Make sure that you have items of different heights grouped together.  This not only applies to items on a table or shelf, but also to the other accessories you place within a room.  Notice the pot plant on the table in this picture above is higher than the other objects on the table, and this is complemented by the floor lamp perfectly positioned between the table and the chair, and finally the mirror which takes up the remaining space on the wall above the pot plant.  All these items are working together to complete this space.


Don’t forget that accessories also include throws, scatter cushions, artworks and lamps.  Staggering and grouping these items will make a big difference to your room setting.  I love to add pops of colour and different textures to create layers of interest.  You might now have to run out and shop for a few more accessories but hopefully you have a clearer vision of the effect you want to create which will make the accessory shopping much easier and maybe even a little fun.

Contact Jossi Design for your interior design and decorating needs at or 031 303 7265.


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Passionate about Design

With an eye for the finer details and a passion for creating breathtaking end results, Jossi Design is one of Durban’s most recognised and celebrated interior design agencies. Practicing in the industry for over 15 years, we’ve cultivated strong relationships with clients across the country and internationally.

Committed to style, creativity and uncompromised service, Jossi Design strives to deliver eye-catching design that carefully considers function, comfort and style. Through a keen interest in emerging and current trends, we aim to achieve the right balance of contemporary chic and timeless finishes that reflects all client personalities and individual tastes.

Founded by Jocelyn Jones in 2006, the business has evolved to encompass a broad spectrum of design projects in all sectors of interior design.