How To Choose Decorative Objects

When you've filled your home with basic pieces of furniture and are looking for ways to make your living spaces feel unique, an easy way to customize your interior is to turn to decorative objects. This is when you get to let your true personality and creativity shine through in your decor!

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However, it can easily become overwhelming. Your decor is such a crucial element of properly finishing a home, but there are so many types of objects and so many different ways to style them that your attempts to decorate can quickly read as 'cluttered' instead of 'properly decorated'. In this guide, we'll help you avoid some of the most common pitfalls of decorative objects.

What kinds of decorative objects are there?

With enough imagination, anything can be a decorative object. The category can expand to pillows and wall hangings, statues and paperweights and bookends - you name it!

Perhaps a more helpful distinction would be the kinds of decorative object you should collect. When you're decorating, the focus is as much on the specific pieces and objects you choose as well as how they all come together in your home. To ensure that a room looks well-balanced, you should aim to collect the following four types of decorative objects:

  1. Something Vertical: To draw your eye upward and make use of the vertical (and often empty) space within your home, focus on collecting at least one tall piece for your arrangement. This could be a candlestick, a vase, or an interesting lamp!
  1. A Decorative, Personality-Driven Statement Piece: Your decor can (and should!) be unique to your personality. Think about what it is and what you do that is interesting and brings you joy! For example, if you like elephants, that can (and should!) come across in your decor with statuettes or wall hangings. If you've always wanted to go to Paris, find a map to use as a table topper! There should always be at least one piece in your room that is a fantastic conversation starter. Think about what you like to talk about, and incorporate that into your decor.
  1. A Living Element: Plants are more than just a way to bring a splash of green into a room; their presence can calm people and literally allow the room to breathe. The number of plants you can choose is endless, and the ways you can display them are myriad - from a patterned ceramic planter to a woven hanging basket! Even if you are not good with plants, you can easily buy an incredibly realistic fake for low-stress decorating with the same overall effect.
  1. Layers and Leaners: Lastly, to bring some subtlety to your arrangement, look for pieces which work well with your statement decorative objects without overshadowing them. Large neutral tapestries or paintings to put behind your TV, allowing for interest without distraction, are good examples. Soft blankets to throw on your couch are another. For this category, you're going to look for livable textures and colors that round out the decor of your room!

We'll go more into detail for each of these categories below.

What are the different styles and designs of decorative objects?

In order to get your vertical, horizontal, layering and leaning pieces in place, you're going to have to scour the stores and markets for unique pieces from each category that appeal to you. Here's a further breakdown of the styles and designs of decorative objects you'll usually see.

  • Decorative spheres: From globes to hollow balls of twine to geodesic gear designs, decorative spheres can help you break up the right angles commonly found in furniture with soft, round corners. These come in every finish imaginable, from rough wood to wrought iron all the way to finely polished metals.
Golden Classic Metal Sphere Decorative Tabletop
Silver Classic Metal Windmill Table Decorative Sculpture
Brown Traditional Wooden Decorative Balls
Golden Modern Metal Decorative Pineapple
Modern Glass 3 Piece Ball Light Figurine Set
  • Star-shaped objects: With pointed edges and angles that interest the eye and then instantly direct away, star-shaped decorative objects often promote a sense of movement in the room. While these can come in a wide array of finishes, they're often found in gold and silver metals.
Golden Modern Metal Star Sculpture
Transparent Modern Crystal Glass Star Sculpture
Modern Metal 3 Piece Star Sculpture Set
Silver Traditional Metal Star Tabletop Sculpture
Black Modern Iron Wire Star Sculpture
Golden Stylish Crystal Glass Star Sculpture
  • Animal figurines: Even if you aren't an animal lover, having bookends in the shapes of birds or even an art model human statuette can bring dynamic recognition and interest to any arrangement.
Brown Stylish Metal Flamingo Sculpture
Golden Traditional Ceramic Elephant Figurine
White Classic Resin Swan Figurine
Red Classic Metal Crab Figurine

How to choose specific styles and designs for your decorative objects?

There are two good ways to choose the specific style and design of your decorative objects.

Look around at your home

Take in the general aesthetic of your current things. Even if you're just getting started with decorating, it's very likely that you've already collected a few mementos, heirlooms, or other pieces that can dictate the trends you will follow for years to come. Go look at your treasures! What color are they? What metals are they made of? How old are they? Do they have any strong patterns, whether they are small and Baroque or large, bold, and geometric?

Note all of this information down and keep it in mind when you're out shopping. With your mind already focused on what you have, you'll be primed to notice when new items fall in the same pattern.

Look for inspiration in magazines

If you don't have much to go on or if you feel like you'd rather have a completely fresh start, excellent! There's a very fun exercise you can complete to forge your path forward. Clear out an hour or two when you will have no distractions, pour yourself a beverage, and open up a magazine. It doesn't even have to be a home goods catalogue - anything will do. Start to leaf through the magazine. Notice when you come across something you like. Take a marker and circle everything in the magazine that catches your eye. Then, put the magazine down and walk away.

The next day, go in and review the things you circled. Are they of a specific pattern? Do they have similar colors or shapes? Note these details for the next time you go shopping.

If you can't discern a pattern among the decorative objects you've circled, it's very possible that you have an eclectic style, one which delights in diverse and random objects. You'll have to be very careful with how you style these objects, but the result can be very artistic and modern as long as you do it just right!

If it helps, here are some common styles and the types of decorative objects that might go with each style. See if any of these catch your fancy:

  • Victorian: Porcelain figurines, shiny or scrolled mirror frames, stained glass

  • Coastal: Starfish and shell figurines, light pastel colors, transparent cylindrical vases, pieces of rope, vials of sand

  • Rustic or Farmhouse: Baskets, natural wood edges, neutral colors, ladders, distressed frames, decorative plates

  • Bohemian: Wooden animal figurines, flower art or sculptures, bowls made of natural materials like twigs or leaves, twinkle lights, wall hangings with tassels, tapestries

  • Industrial: Wrought iron, pipe, bolts, and other 'found' art pieces, blueprints and schematics, dark colors

  • Minimalistic or Contemporary: Contrasting colors, sleek silhouettes, vases with small openings and cool-toned wooden sculptures

  • Scandinavian: Bird figurines, geometric wooden sculptures, white frames, star-shaped objects,

  • Mid-Century Modern: Bold patterns, pops of teal and coral, wooden frames and geometric silhouettes matched to both furniture and decor

Blue Traditional Ceramic Rose Sculpture
Yellow Dried Botanicals Ball Sculpture
Red Stylish Resin Coral Sculpture
Pink Blue Modern Resin Dragon Sculpture
Golden Elegant Metal Butterfly Figurine
Blue Classic Glass Geometric Sculpture

What colors should you focus on in your decor?

With so many options available to you with your decor, picking decorative objects can be overwhelming. Choosing colors to start out with may help you narrow down your choices! To choose colors, go back to the magazine spreads you were circling and see if any colors stand out to you. Those may be colors you'd like to emphasize in your arrangements!

Beyond that, you can rely on color theory and its influence on mood to choose colors to feature. Think to yourself: how do I want to feel when I see this decorative object? Let's discuss a few different ambiances and their associated colors:

  • Bright and Cheery: All the colors, all the time! If you're going for bright and cheery vibes, think primary colors, pastels, and white walls with bright blue and green accents. You'll have to be careful to keep it from reading childish, but if you do it right the resulting space should be a dynamic, energetic place to be!

  • Dark and Moody: If you're going for mature, nuanced vibes, then consider rich plums and reds, navy blue, tonal blacks and emerald green. Dark jewel tones and grays are beautiful for allowing color variation while remaining somewhat subdued.

  • Neutral and Natural: Wood tones, pastels, whites, and grey would look fantastic in this color niche! If you're going for natural, experiment with different materials as well, such as iron, glass, fiber, and wood.

How to find well-made decorative objects?

It might seem like a small thing, but you'll want to ensure that the decorative objects you pick are well-made so they don't fall apart, unravel, or start to look bad (after all, that would defeat the entire point!).

Look for objects with good reviews, from reputable sellers, and ones appropriately priced. It can be tempting to source lots of decorative objects at low prices, but the resulting tableau may not measure up to your ideals. Go slowly, and pick up decor piece by piece, thoughtfully, at investments which make sense to you.

Clear Traditional Glass Sea Globe Sculpture
Black Classic Resin Roman Style Bust Sculpture
Black Classic Metal Scale Sculpture
Red Traditional Wooden Rooster Figurine
Brown Classic Wooden Pineapple Sculpture
White Classic Glass LED Snow Globe

How to style your decorative objects thoughtfully?

While some larger pieces of furniture might be easy to place in your home (a bed, for example, might only fit in your bedroom in one way), decorative objects are usually more portable - giving you a far wider range of ways to display them to their best advantage.

Based on universally flattering design principles, here are a few guidelines for optimal decor arrangement:

  • Place objects in groups of odd numbers: This will help you have a central object (usually one of your personality-driven statement pieces), with others grouped around it for symmetry. If you're aiming for more of a minimalistic look, note that one is an odd number!

  • Before you arrange, empty the space you're decorating entirely: This will help you avoid over-decorating so you don't end up with a cluttered space.

  • Alternate heights: When you're placing your objects in an arrangement, choose objects of different heights to stand right next to each other.

  • Repeat colors: Especially if you're using a wide variety of different objects with different sizes and textures, using a similar color to unify the space can help draw the eye through the space!

Don't forget to have fun with it! Decorative objects are usually smaller investments than large pieces of furniture, and because they're smaller and more portable, you can work with an endless array of differing positions and placements to find out what works best for the flow of your home.

Just remember to avoid clutter, select well-made objects, and vary your decor in terms of texture and height, and you'll be well on your way to having a beautifully decorated home.

How much should you plan on paying for your decorative objects?

Before you go looking for decorative objects, you should definitely come up with a budget - as the price range for good decor is quite wide. Decide before you go shopping just how much you'd like to spend, and have an idea going in what type of object you'll be looking for. This will help you avoid buying things you haven't carefully planned and avoid buyer's remorse after you've purchased your items!

Incorporating some of these smaller, more interesting objects can add instant character and meaning to your home. You'll go from having builder-grade furniture to a nuanced, styled, magazine-worthy spread in no time!