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how to accessory shop like a pro

Being an Oregon Trail Millennial I must admit that I need the occasional bit of validation, and nothing quite does it like strangers stopping me while I’m accessory shopping saying:

“Oh my gosh everything in your cart is sooooo pretty!”

Yes, yes, this is a little pathetic that it inflates my confidence so much BUT it is so nice to know that I’m doing well since, you know, it’s my job.

Today I’m going to spill my process on how I accessory shop so you too can get compliments from strangers and friends on how pulled together your shopping cart (and then ultimately, your house) looks. And be sure to check out our Styling Tips highlight on Instagram to see this in action!

1. Prep work is key. Before I shop for any client I make sure to bring the Mood Board (if you don’t have one, that post will teach you how!). This will be your style guide and help inform you on what will look good in your space. You’ll also want to be sure to bring photos of your space and any key measurements (wall sizes, shelf height, and depth, etc.).

2. Reference material. Even with your mood boards, you may find yourself in the middle of the doo-dads aisle and be at a loss for what else might go on your bathroom counter or bookshelf. Pull up styling images on Pinterest to give you ideas for interesting things to include in your space. Lucky for you I have a Pinterest Board brimming with beautifully styled spaces to inspire you.

3. Shop the entire store. Don’t just look for kitchen things in that section. Sometimes you’ll find the canister you need in the bathroom section and vice versa. And art deserves to be in every room in the house, so always look for small canvases or framed prints to bring into your vignettes. The same goes for vases. Every room can handle a vase.

4. Stick tight to your color palette. Repeating the same colors through your space is a sure-fire way of helping things be pulled together. But also know that fresh greenery goes with everything, so natural green is a freebie. If your space is blush, gold, and teal, resist the urge to add in major pops of other colors. They can definitely feature in a small way, but larger items outside your color palette will steal focus.

5. But be a bit loose on style. A space can start to feel super boring if everything is the same style. All modern or all traditional or all farmhouse. It’s those unexpected touches in a different style that make a space feel collected and intentional, rather than cookie-cutter. In this bathroom the whole room was black, white, mustard, and modern. Most of the furnishings I chose were in that palette, but then I threw in a traditional gold picture frame with a painting of a cockatoo in it. IT MAKES THE NICHE because it’s fun and quirky and interesting. Now, if that would have been a framed black and white abstract it still would have been lovely, but the bird brings in some personality.

6. Overbuy. I know this sounds crazy coming from the gal who is obsessed with saving money, but truly the way to do this well is to buy about 20% more than your space can actually hold so that YOU HAVE OPTIONS. Inevitably something isn’t going to work in the space you’re picturing, or items won’t look as good grouped together, and you’ll need to call an audible. This is 100x easier if you have some alternates at your disposal and don’t have to go back to the store. Check-in with the retailer's return policies before you go, but generally, you’ll have 30 days to make up your mind. To that end, I don’t take the price tags off ANYTHING for at least 24 hours after I install it to be sure I really love it enough to keep it.

7. Installing. Now, I will do a longer separate post on this, but didn’t want to leave you hanging! When it comes time to install try these tips:

a. Start with your anchor pieces first. These will either be the largest things OR the most beautiful, important pieces that you absolutely want to be included. Then layer in the smaller stuff.

b. Work in a zig-zag. Repeat colors or shapes in a diagonal. Top left, middle right, bottom left. You want to create a pathway for the eye to follow.

c. Odd numbers are best. 3s and 5s look better than 4s. But a pair is always classic as well.

d. Don’t get stuck. Move things around and don’t be committed to leaving things where you first set them down. Take a photo, try something else, and if you don’t like it, put it back where you had it in the picture.

You now have my designer wisdom and you’re ready to shop!!


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