How to Arrange Decorative Objects

Sally Painter
symmetrical examples

Designing your home is in the details. Adding decorative objects can make it truly your space. The right art objects and other decorative pieces can tie all the elements of your interior décor together. One of the best ways to accessorize a room is through various grouping of objects.

Deciding on Objects for a Room

decorative urn

Choose only objects that you love! If you have a cherished object given to you for a birthday or anniversary, then the piece could become a centerpiece for your design. The measuring stick for how successful you are with integrating decorative objects into your room design is the overall visual effect.

  • Does your room décor have a natural flow?
  • Does your attention move about the room from one object to another?
  • Do you feel drawn into the room?
  • Do the object colors, designs, styles and textures create the ambiance you desired?

Once you decide which pieces you wish to incorporate into your design, create a plan for using them in the room so they become a natural part of your design. If you avoid using too much of any element, then you'll end up with a truly well-designed room filled with the perfect balance of decorative objects.

Grouping Objects

The rule of three is used in interior design to create interest, rhythm and depth. It helps to think of it as a composition of elements created to draw your attention through the room. Seeing the same colors, design patterns and shapes throughout a room gives it a cohesive design.

You want to add a type of symmetry and focal point to your room design. Using the rule of three can help you achieve this goal when placing objects in your home.

There are a few things you want to keep in mind when creating your design:

  • Keep it odd: Use more than three objects, such as five or seven, but keep it odd for better symmetry. If using groups together, keep it odd, too, such as three groups or five groups.
  • Space requirements: Don't create too large a grouping for the space (spatial composition). Consider how much space you have to work with it and design it as a vignette.
  • Use progression composition: Change heights from tall to short and sizes from large to small to create interest and balance in groupings.
  • Don't clutter: It's easy to get carried away when adding objects to your décor.
  • Don't be afraid to experiment: You can always take away or add objects until you get the right feel for a grouping.

The technique of showcasing can work in a room as a centerpiece grouping or it can be repeated throughout the room with varying sizes and themes. You can group objects together that don't relate to each other by using a tray or bowl to showcase the grouping and tie it together.

tray of candles

Trays

Various decorative trays can become part of a display and serve the functional purpose of containing objects you want to showcase. One of the most common tray groupings is candles.

Use a mirrored tray to enhance the flickering light of varied candle heights to add ambiance to your grouping. The candles can be the same color, different colors or decorative designs. By placing them on a tray, you make the design statement that they go together.

Other trays such as wood, bamboo, silver, brass, copper, hand-painted and many others can be used. Display other objects such as perfume bottles, floral arrangements, ceramic figurines, crystal vases, silver service set, ceramics and various art objects with a group-defining tray.

Bowls and Baskets

Like a tray, bowls and baskets can become more than just an object; they can become the means for showcasing other objects. Wood, crystal, metal, fabric, weave or ceramic bowls or baskets can provide similar or contrasting elements to the objects you place in them. Use the bowl as a candy dish on a coffee table or as a mantel centerpiece. A bowl on a dining table can hold a floral arrangement.

Other Ways to Display Objects

You can highlight last summer's vacation collection of seashells with jars and vases. Other decorative objects can be as simple as glass beads. If you have rare objects that need added protection try a glass dome. Group the jars, domes or vases together on a tray for an added dimension to your grouping.

Display cabinets and curios are a more formal way to display objects. You can use a lighted glass cabinet or curio to spotlight treasures. If you have valuable collections, then you may want to invest in this type of furniture.

Other Objects that can be grouped together include:

  • Frames: A grouping of photos in frames can be unified either by subject matter, frame style, frame color or material, such as a grouping of silver frames.
  • Paintings and wall art: Add paintings, photos and wall art to your décor in grouping by subject matter, color or frames.
  • Bookcase or group of wall shelves: Add objects to break up large spaces of books and shelving units.

The Art of Balance

symmetrical centerpiece

Balancing the elements and objects in a design is imperative for a successful interior. All elements must be considered whenever you add new objects. There are three types of symmetry you can create:

Symmetrical

Symmetrical designs are pleasing and often are used in interiors, especially formal décors. A symmetrical design places identical objects on either side of a focal point, such as a fireplace, window or furniture piece. If you were to divide the design feature into two equal halves, each side will be a mirror image of the other.

Asymmetrical

Asymmetrical designs aren't identical, but do have some similar properties, such as color, height or design style. This type of placement doesn't use equal balancing. In fact, odd numbers work best for added interest. A grouping of three vases that are different heights, shapes and sizes, but all have the same color palette and design style, makes a good asymmetrical grouping. Asymmetrical designs are great for casual and informal décors.

Radial

Radial symmetry (circle or spiral) is more difficult to work with, but can provide a great method for displaying objects. For example, the concept of displaying a spoon collection could use a collector's plate for the center point with the spoons fanning out from the plate like sunrays.

Other Considerations When Grouping Objects include:

  • Rhythm: The differences in objects such as height, shape, color, size and design create a rhythm.
  • Design composition: The consistency of colors and style helps the objects relate to each other and the rest of your décor.
  • Add alternate sequencing and repetition: You can repeat the same design for design interest. For example, a fleur-de-lis motif can be used throughout your room in a progression of size and height.
  • Motif colors: Not only can you use large and small motifs, but you can also use different colors.
  • Create contrast: Use different colors, object shapes, different patterns, designs and motifs for contrast.
  • Color Selections: Objects should complement or match existing colors in your room.
  • Color Repetition: If you introduce a new color, repeat the color in the décor. (This can be done with throw pillows, candles, floral arrangements, upholstery, draperies and paint.)
  • Balance Texture: Too much texture is just as bad as having too many straight lines in furniture pieces or too many colors in your palette.

It's Personal

What objects you use in your home will depend on your personal tastes, budget and style. These should be pieces that matter to you and hold either a sentimental value or are simply objects that you love; it could be an heirloom from a grandmother or a treasure plucked from a garage sale. Make it yours and it will find its place in your home as a decorative object that may become a conversational piece.

How to Arrange Decorative Objects