Accessorizing needs its own props. As with cooking, cleaning or gardening, having a few “tools” on hand increases your options, makes the task easier and improves the visual appeal of the final arrangement. The 5 best props to have on hand to create beautiful tablescapes or groupings are:
BOOKS: Stacks of books are invaluable when creating attractive groupings. If you’re not a big reader, pick up nice looking books at yard sales or book store closeouts. You can pick “accessory” books for their size, the color of their jackets or their price. Large coffee table books are helpful to create dramatic vertical height to balance a tall vase or lamp but a variety of book sizes is helpful. Lay the books flat and create a platform to display a small or shorter item like a bowl, candlestick or small picture frames – or even to raise a lamp to give it prominence. If you want the books to take a back seat in the arrangement, find jackets or bindings that are neutral and close in color (all dark or all whites/creams) – then stack something colorful on them.
TRAYS: Bring trays out of the kitchen cabinets and enjoy them in your accessory groupings. Use trays to reinforce the theme of a collection. For example, use a rattan or wooden tray painted with palm trees to evoke summer or the tropics. Trays can also add a much needed sparkle to a collection – use a polished silver tray to contrast with a collection of carved wood pieces or black iron candlesticks. Trays work beautifully to gather together small items to give them more visual importance – use a small leather tray to hold a collection of thimbles or magnifying glasses, or a wood tray to collect a vase of flowers and several picture frames. Trays can also be art…hang especially beautiful or unusual trays on the wall to anchor a tablescape.
EASELS: A variety of sizes, styles and shapes of easels come in handy when creating groupings. Easels are an inexpensive accessory prop but one that offers big impact. Need a punch of color in a grouping? Use an easel to display a beautifully painted serving bowl. Need to add visual height in a tablescape? Use an easel to display a plate or platter vertically, providing height and a different shape. Have a fabulous piece of art but no wall space? Use a floor easel as a display solution. Easels come in so many sizes and shapes and depths that it’s a good idea to have a variety on hand – deep ones for bowls or pieces that need room to lean; high-back ones to support tall framed pieces or large plates; shiny silver ones that contribute their own design element and subdued wooden ones that retreat into the background. If you don’t have the right size on hand, take the item you want to put in the easel with you when you shop – in my experience it will save you lots of store returns!
MIRRORS & TILE: Mirrors are always a helpful accessorizing prop. Mirrors reflect light, whether from a window or from candlelight, and add a bright spot to a table or bookcase. Use an inexpensive mirror tile flat and layer candles and rocks for a zen addition to a grouping. Use a small 5×7 framed mirror flat for even a little more punch, or stand it up on an easel for a stronger reflective presence. Decorative tile can serve the same purpose. If you’ve got a southwestern theme, select a ceramic tile with an appropriate pattern/color and use it as art or as a mini tray. There are so many sizes and shapes available that it will be fun to be persistent in finding just the right one.
FABRIC: Begin building a collection of fabrics that you love in assorted lengths and textures – some silk, some burlaps, some sheer. Collect some bold patterns and some small scale neutral patterns – 1/4 yd or 5 yards on sale….. While used less frequently than the above props, fabric can still be a valuable tool – and little or no sewing. Use fabric for things like: stapled on the back wall of a bookcase to add texture, pattern or color; a table top square (scarf-like) to protect a treasured tabletop or to cover up an ugly one and serve as an anchor for a grouping; toss over a dated lamp shade for a little romance; fold, velcro and tie for a quickie pillow cover; stretch over foamcore or cardboard and put in a frame for instant art; make a quick no-sew valance (iron on hem tape); use a novelty holiday print yard of fabric gathered in the middle of the dining table and cluster candles and holiday appropriate doodads tucked into the folds.
Start your collection of accessory props today. Set aside a box or bin in the garage or closet and whenever you come across one of these indispensable goodies on sale, snap it up and add it to the box. Soon you’ll have everything to make creating the perfect tablescape or grouping right at your fingertips.