In a show home property, accessories can make or break the interior. If they don't match the general theme of the rest of the interior or the characteristics of the property as a whole it will look (and feel) wrong. This has an impact on the property's value or the opinion of the inhabitant. However, accessorising doesn't have to be complicated, and it certainly doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg to get the right look. Here is our advice on the best way to add character to any house without confusion or breaking the bank!
The aim of a show home is to increase market value, generate interest and sell the property or properties within the development. As interior designers, our role in this is to match the property to the developer's target market or ideal buyer and the general characteristics of the development itself through the look and feel of the interior. For example, in a development of 1 and 2-bed apartments located in an up and coming area of London, where the ideal buyer is a young professional or small family, the furniture may be lower-spec, minimalist and modern; soft furnishings are used sparingly and patterns are kept quite youthful and more appealing to those who are more career-focused - geometric or plain and plenty of neutral colours.
On the other hand, a large 4-bed property built as part of new suburban development on greenfield land in Reading is probably going to be targetted towards older/larger families settling down for a life away from the city or older couples who want to move into a new property and who are more focused on their home and how it looks. The interior is perhaps going to be more traditional with more textures, frequent use of soft furnishings, higher-spec furniture and the use of materials like glass, metal and hardwood.
The accessories have a part to play in all of this, too. In the first example, accessories are likely to be functional and minimalist, a planter with a cactus here, an abstract canvas to match the colourway of the room there. In the second example, it is likely that there will be more accessories and that they will play a more active role in channelling the theme of the interior. The artwork here is large with ornate frames, curtains are patterned and preferred over blinds, ornaments and statues adorn surfaces throughout, and lamps are sophisticated pieces that draw the eye.
With that said, here are a few do's and don'ts for accessorising, whatever your tastes, style or budget!
In terms of artwork, less is often more, which definitely helps save money if you want to accessorise on a budget! Too much artwork on a small surface looks cramped and imposing, which is especially a no-no if you are working with a small room. It also takes away from the quality of the artwork if it isn't given its own space. This is why we recommend only putting artwork on large, bare surfaces and keeping it simple. Often, frames on canvases increase the cost but a contrasting black/wooden frame against a lighter wall looks better than a light, unframed canvas. It is totally up to you which you prefer.
A great way of saving money on artwork is to spread a few smaller pictures out, as opposed to using one large picture, which will often cost more. See some examples below.
In terms of the style of the artwork itself, selecting abstract pieces purely for their colour is often the best way to go to save money, especially if you're after something modern, as you can often pick up prints in just about any colour from online stores like Etsy and either print them yourself or send them to professional printers from just a few pounds.
Specific pieces work better with larger, higher-end properties but often come at a premium, even if they are just prints and aren't hand-drawn/hand-painted. You can, however, buy pieces from many home and gifts shops for around the £30-£50 mark if you want a specific piece of art rather than just something to bring together the colours of the room. Our own shop, The Emporium in Draycott, Derby is a great place to start 😉
"Adornments" refers to ornaments, figurines, statues; basically anything that sits on a surface like a console table, sideboard or chest of drawers. Typically, these are reserved for more luxurious properties where the idea is to create an aspirational look for buyers who have specific tastes and the budget to use accessories frequently. However, there are many cost-effective adornments that are simple and functional but still capable of adding character.
Abstract ornaments such as these are very affordable and available from many homewares stores or online retailers.
Storage containers like these are also fantastic at filling spaces on tables and other furniture without being too costly or taking up too much room. Because of their size, you can also get something quite eccentric and unique without it looking out of place or taking away from other accessories in the room.
Soft furnishings are vital in a show home to carry the theme of the property into each room or to create a different theme in each. They help break up large chunks where there is little variation in colour such as on a sofa or bed. They also tie the general colours of a room together brilliantly. Soft furnishings are where the personality of the homeowner or objectives for the show home really shine. A large and aspirant show home may feature cushions with lavish textures/patterns, large luxurious throws and distinctive bedding while a rental property aimed at students may instead use plain bedding and neutral cushions that are easy to source and appealing to a wide range of potential tenants.
In either case, a great way to use soft furnishings on a budget is to opt for polyester-filled cushions as opposed to feather-filled, and only use enough to tie the room together. Some people like the idea of having 2-4 plain cushions on a bed, plus accent cushions or shams. Instead, use 2 accent cushions to contrast plain bedding and a small plain throw to tie the two together.
Instead of using 2-4 cushions for each sofa/bed like in the above examples, try using just a couple or a small throw instead to bring the colours together.
Plants and Flowers
The final way to accessorise a show home or your own home is to use flowers and plants. They work brilliantly to add colour, warmth, and break up otherwise cold and unwelcoming areas in a room. Large, dark wooden furniture or plain walls would benefit from a medium-sized plant nearby in a corner, large dining tables look great with flowers in the middle, and plain white/grey surfaces in bathrooms are enhanced by an aloe vera plant or cacti. A great way to save on money in this area is to go artificial. Artificial flowers, in particular, are a lot more cost-effective than their real counterparts as they are mostly made of plastic, resin and other synthetic materials. They are however often difficult to distinguish from real flowers and are available in a wide range of colours from many supermarkets, home stores and garden centres for very reasonable prices.
Another advantage of using plants and flowers is what they sit in - vases and planters are another great way to continue the interior design style and colourway throughout the property. A rustic metal planter would suit a 3-bed family cottage in the countryside, a concrete succulent planter would sit perfectly in a modern apartment and a blown glass vase would look stunning in a glamorous townhouse. Shopping for planters/vases in local garden centres, home stores, gift shops or supermarkets is best as there are many places that offer cost-effective vases and planters made from ceramic, glass, metal, stone and wood, and don't worry about choosing something basic as this just gives the plants more of an opportunity to shine! 😁
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