Q: My husband, “Ben,” is a very neat, organized person and is adamantly against “annoying dust collectors,” the words he uses to describe my art bowls, books, candles, and other stuff I have around to make our house look lived in. Without all that, I simply don’t feel “at home!” It’s not as if I have every table and shelf packed full of little tchotchkes or fussy collections, either. How can I balance his minimal ideas with my desire for accessories?
A: Accessories such as artful treasures, vases, bowls, metal artifacts, rustic signs, books, pottery, baskets, candles, and much more are truly the easiest way to personalize a home. These pieces are a great way to share your taste and display memories accumulated throughout your journey through life. And because this is both your home and your husband’s, it’s worth trying to sort this out.
Prioritize accessories and art that represent milestones of your life together, over your own individual tastes. Incorporate your husband’s favorite colors and themes, along with your own. For example, if you love art glass or handmade pottery and your husband loves a particular sports team, collect a few big, dramatic pieces in shapes you like, in a take on the colors of his team. And make a point to find a special new treasure during each momentous vacation or travel event, such as your anniversary.
Other basic guidelines for accessories include choosing very large items over small because this adds both drama and interest without being chaotic. Tall plants with gigantic leaves, as big as you can afford, are more interesting and calming than a busy collection of small plants.
Group items with common characteristics, such as intended use (books, baskets, or vases), material (metal, wood, or wicker), or color, and in different sizes. Group these items together in threes or fives. Odd numbers look best. And consider how your eye moves through a room. For example, a pair of large candlesticks placed one on each side of a fireplace mantel makes your eyes dart back and forth between, creating an uneasy feeling. Instead, place the two together on one side of the mantel. Or better yet, find the same item in two sizes to add even more interest. This unified grouping will appear as one rather than individual items, which should be more appealing to your husband.
Whatever you do end up with, change out the items every once in a while for a new look. Good luck and let me know how this goes!