subscript to Lavish Living Magazine
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The Art of Accessorizing

By on March 22, 2014

Finally, after months (years!) of research, planning and endless shopping, you have successfully completed the task of finding the perfect “foundation” pieces for your home: sofas, sectionals, coffee tables, end tables, and maybe even the perfect corner book shelf. You’ve got all the stuff, but where do you go from there?  Sherrie Swass of Swass Interior Design offers up her advice on the art of filling your space— guaranteeing that you don’t find yourself sitting in the middle of a room, frustratedly muttering, Oh, go stuff it.

photo 5Swass’ design practice has gone through several metamorphoses over the past 30 plus years. One of these stages was designing and decorating (known as staging) model homes for builders and developers during the 1990’s.  “I made a concerted effort of visiting many model home subdivisions in northern and southern California. Although the styles differed in different places of California, the overall objective was the same. As a business person, I needed to keep both my builder’s needs and the financial bottom-line as a top priority, and as a design professional I needed to know who was moving into these homes.” Swass asked herself, what was the profile of these families? “I wanted my model homes to look like someone lived there.  My goal was to really figure out who these families were.” Swass discovered that accessorizing the homes became instrumental in attracting the right demographics.

Swass says designing your own home is much the same. You create a plan, purchase the basic furniture that suits your needs, and fill in the spaces. Sounds easy enough, but filling in the spaces is probably the most difficult, yet most rewarding, aspect of creating your own space.

While staging is a fabulous idea when preparing to sell your house, psychologically it should be approached, and produce results, opposite to the desired outcome when designing the home photo 4that you live in. Staging is about making your home an environment that anyone could image themselves in. You want your home to look balanced and cozy, while removing all personal effects, so that a potential buyer may visualize their own accessories within that space.

Regardless of whether you’re staging a house for the market or designing the home in which you actually live, the proper placement of accessories will make your home come alive. Using the right combinations of texture, patterns and color will energize any area of the room. Additionally, Swass says that her training in feng shui has enabled her to understand the importance of proper placement and its effect on the tone, mood, and energy within a room. “If your placement is not intact, your entire room will not feel “right””, says Swass. “In consultations with clients the word feeling comes up several times. Once a client describes the desired feeling within a room, it allows us to then fill in the blanks with the right accessories. Unless you go through this process you will simply be buying stuff.”

photo 1

A single well-chosen item can create a dramatic change in the overall look & feel of a room. This could be an oversized mirror or a show-stopping piece of art. Large, oversized items create a focal point that demands attention so that you are able to fill in the room’s other accessories with small groupings that have memories attached to them— such as collectibles from vacations or gifts received from friends.

‘While it is fine to use personal items to accessorize, a few “show stoppers” are necessary to demand attention and rest the eye so that the space feels grounded,” says Swass. “Our eyes want to move around the space and feel connected. A combination of oversized and small accessories will create the balance our mind craves.”

Remember, your home is a reflection of your personality. Rooms that are lived in contain lasting memories, unlike rooms that are staged for resale. Know the difference.

“My personal slogan for years has been, ‘Balanced interiors do not cost more. They just feel better,” Swass cautions. “Don’t buy accessories just to fill in space. I personally have had some accessories for over 30 years. They are part of me and have memories attached to them.”

In other words, they’re not just stuff.  photo 3

SIDEBAR: Sherrie’s Tips
Create a Focal Point.
This could be a fireplace, an art object, or even a window that displays a stunning view.
Add Throw Pillows to Sofas. Prints or solids should be determined based on the feel of the room.
Add Window Coverings in an Accent Color. This will connect color to the accessories within the room.
Store Items Smartly. Use small decorative boxes or a basket to store items such as TV remotes or magazines.
Personalize It. Add personal touches to room, such as a sculpture bought on a trip, family photos, and even trophies.



These photos, shot in Swass’ design studio, show the same sofa accessorized in several different ways. Notice how the color, texture, and design plays differently on the same gray contemporary sofa. The sofa is neutral, and can therefore adapt to three different looks. In common, however, is the balance of color, texture and placement.  Surprisingly, placement was the biggest challenge for Swass’ design team in prepping for the shoot.


subscript to Lavish Living Magazine

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