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Even the most talented designer will admit that arranging accessories successfully is a process of trial and error; it may take several tries with various objects before a grouping really works.
Helping navigate the editing process are five esthetic guidelines: color, shape, scale, texture, and finish. Using them as reference points, a designer begins by looking for similarities as well as contrasts among objects. Two pieces with different bold shapes -- one curved, one angular -- may set up an exciting contrast. Or the repetition of the same shape, as in a collection of plates on a wall, may achieve the desired effect. In a room where ceilings soar and the furniture is imposing, details should be appropriately overscale. Disparate objects drawn from different periods, places, and pedigrees can mesh successfully when all share similar colors, finishes, and textures. This is a useful trick when operating on a tight budget: One or two precious items can be augmented with finds from thrift shops and flea markets that are in some ways similar.
But sometimes only an adventurous approach will do. In an arrangement of boxes, for example, a striking visual statement might be created by grouping unlike surfaces and colors together -- a dark, polished mahogany tea caddy and a carved walnut case with a worn, dull finish can be surprisingly and successfully teamed with a pair of red lacquered oriental boxes.
Copyright (c) 1996 by The Hearst Corporation