A Decorators Guide to Accessory Shopping – My Top 7 Tips for Getting it Right the First Time

I spend a lot of time out and about sourcing and shopping for my clients. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you have probably seen some of my great finds this week. No matter who the client, or what the project is, I always have a plan. I never just “shop” without the final outcome or direction in mind. You will find my 7 Top Tips for Getting it Right the First Time below.

Accessories for Living Room Room Project

Let’s face it, time is money, and when I am out searching for a client project, I treat it as if I were spending my own time and money….I am on a mission. I try to be as efficient and resourceful as possible and I strive to get the most bang for my buck.

If you have not done a lot of accessory shopping or purchasing, you might think it’s an inexpensive part of the overall design budget. It is not, even when I mix high/ low it can add up to 20% of the overall decorating budget and sometimes more depending on what is needed.

Accessories for Family Room Project

(Above are some of the accessories that I purchased all at once for a couple of projects. Stay tuned later for the install shots!!)

Here are my 7 Top Tips for making the most out of your accessory shopping trip(s)!

#1 – Photos: Print out the photos of your rooms and spaces that you are trying to accessorize. This will help you remember exactly what you are looking for. There so many options and things to sort through that it can often be overwhelming. Pull out your photos to help make buying decisions. I also like to sketch ideas right on my photos…..draw in the artwork (make a note of ideal dimensions), if you can draw a rectangle or circles, you can do this.

#2 – List: Make a list of where you plan to go for the day or half a day or even the week. Write down all of the showrooms and shops that you love and want to visit. Don’t plan on buying everything at one location, it’s never that easy. Besides, you want your room to look collected over time, not like you purchased the bundle pack of matching accessories.

#3 – Location: Once you’ve made your list of stores, categorize them by location or part of town. I never shop in only one area…..NEVER! I typically spend a week sourcing for a project and every day I visit a new location or part of town. You will be amazed at what you can find if you will explore more than just your neighborhood shops.

#4 – Inspiration: I never leave my office without my color and design inspiration. It can be photos on my iPhone, fabric swatches, a photo of artwork that’s in the room or even paint chips. This can be so helpful when you are looking at a blue lamp and you are questioning whether or not you need a powder blue or more of a gray blue. The options are endless so the more you can prepare yourself, the more successful you will be when you get everything home.

#5 – Budget: As I said earlier, outfitting a room with accessories can be very costly. You do not need a lot (and I am not an advocate for clutter, do not like it) but all of those finishing touches can really add up quick. I ALWAYS buy more than I think I will need. I do not always know if a blue tray or a red tray will look best so I may get both. And I never judge an accessory without ALL of the other final pieces in a space. I do not ever buy one thing at a time and place it in a room. I purchase and install everything at once. I find it really difficult to buy one thing at a time and piece meal a room together. Purchase all at once, install all at once and what you do not use, you can return later.

#6 – Top Picks: My top purchases or what I am most on the lookout for are books, objects, throws, pillows, artwork, trays, boxes and more books. Did I mentions books?! I have never accessorized a space and said, whoa, I have way too many books. I usually say…..I really could have used a couple more books. They are obviously great for bookshelves but I love them on consoles and coffee tables too! They add color and height and I just love them!! You may have seen my tip on purchasing books earlier this week on Facebook….coffee table books can be EXPENSIVE but I found a great way to stretch a budget!! You can check it out here. You can find a couple other posts that I wrote on accessorizing here and here.

#7 – Balance: I like to balance color in a room, it is so important to the success of a space. I am not saying that you should have equal amounts of every color; I am just saying the color should be balanced throughout. If you have a little green on your bookcase, add a little green to the other side of your room. Pull your eye around your space by repeating and balancing your color palette. This is why I purchase trays or boxes or books in different colors. I do not know exactly what I will need until I get in the room and begin placing everything.

I hope you found this post helpful. I would love to hear any additional thoughts or tips that you may have when you are out shopping for accessories. Please leave a comment below to get the conversation started and maybe your ideas can help others!




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Interior Designer, Interior Decorator in Georgia | Full Service Interior Design and Decorating in the Atlanta Metro Area, Alpharetta, Roswell, and Cumming including Flowery Branch, Gainesville and Lake Lanier | Jennifer Reynolds Interiors delivers exceptional service with a boutique approach.

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