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Less is more

It’s the golden rule of fashion accessories, and when it comes to jewelry, belts, and handbags it couldn’t be more true. Fashion icon Coco Chanel coined the phrase to ensure you are wearing your accessories, instead of them wearing you. Coco did not, however, follow this advice in her home and neither should you. Her house was a mosaic masterpiece. Like most elegant and inviting homes, hers was full of colors, textures, lighting, and beautiful personal items. Home accessories are what turn a house from ok to outstanding and you can do it by following a few simple decorating rules.

Good Bones

Start by making sure your home has good bones. Most decorators begin with muted colors because they provide a wonderful background to build upon. Right now gray is a very popular neutral, but any color can be neutral if you choose the right shade. Even pink (this year’s trend color) can provide a beautiful background if the shade is light and muted.

If you love bold colors on your walls, go for it. But, your furniture and accents will need to be more subdued.

Arrange furniture by making cozy groupings where people can gather and talk. One of the biggest mistakes people make is putting a couch along one wall and a loveseat along another — even if they’re miles apart. Assess the room. Couches do not need to be against a wall! Furniture arrangements should be intimate, allowing people to sit relatively close to each other, even if you need to make several different groupings in one room.

Colors + Textures

Once you have a basic, inviting arrangement, it’s time to bump it up. Layer your rooms with colors and different textures. This is where accessories come in. Smooth throw pillows, knobby rugs, mirrors, plants, and art can be scattered to create depth and pops of color. If family is important to you, arrange a bunch of framed family snapshots. If you like a southwestern theme, think about interesting ways to mix it up. Lean a rustic wood ladder against a wall. Mount some antlers over the fireplace. I love New Orleans, so my kitchen wall is decorated with a mixture of pen and ink drawings of the city, carnival masks, and antique French plates.

Group similar colors and themes together. If color isn’t your thing, think about adding texture to the walls with molding a couple shades lighter or darker. All white rooms are beautiful, but you don’t want all shades of white to be the same. Mix ivories and creams with bright whites and pull it all together with simple accents like silver candle holders and picture frames.

Art

When it comes to art, more is more. Do not hang a small picture by itself on a big wall. Ever. If you do want just one picture on your wall, it should be very large and/or balanced by other items like plant hangers, sconces, mirrors — essentially any item you find beautiful. Smaller pieces of art should be arranged in groupings. Think balance! Side-by-side is not balanced. One picture higher than the other is. Or surround one central piece. Again, it’s nice to break it up with other hanging objects.

Lighting

You can change the entire feel of your home with lighting. Scattering lamps around a room gives you the option of going from soft, diffused lighting to bright light. Portable mini-lights under kitchen cabinets are a great way to illuminate counters. Portable floor lights can spotlight single items like a large plant. Don’t forget natural light. Dressing windows with thin, see-through material under heavier curtains also gives you several lighting options.

What you Love

Think hard about what you love and surround yourself with it. Get creative. You can literally hang anything on a wall. Most items can be framed or placed in a shadow box. My fiancé’s childhood bat is mounted on a baseball-themed wall. If you love bright red, you can add beautiful splashes of it against a neutral shade. Or consider painting a smaller room, like your bathroom, in a bright, bold color. It’s your home. Enjoy it!