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Samantha Pynn: Is accessorizing a home ‘a bit of a crock’ ?

Dear Sam,
When will designers realize accessories and pillows can’t change a house. I’ve been reading about this in every magazine lately like it’s a new story. I heard you say it on TV too. Feels to me like old news and bit of a crock. The homes in photo spreads are frankly unattainable and cost upward of a million dollars.
Dear Jean,
Thanks for your honesty. No one needs to alert the media about the power of pillows and accessories story. Yep, we’ve heard and read it a million times before in decorating magazines and on TV. Of course, if your walls are crumbling or painted a horrid shade, well then, no, there is not much that a pillow can do for you. And, if your home is a mess, jammed to the rafters with junk, a great looking vase isn’t going to do a thing. (No judgment here on messy homes, by the way. Some of the most successful peeps I know are nicknamed Pig-Pen).
The reason decorators (especially me), designers and editors are constantly prattling on about how pillows and throws can change a space is because accessories are room changers. The message gets repeated because it’s something so simple that people don’t remember, don’t do and don’t think matters.
It matters.
Picture frames and table lamps will never bring about world peace or cure any illnesses, but they can make you feel better about the way you live. I’ve had hundreds of people tell me that living in a home that is decorated to their taste makes them excited about coming home and waking up in the morning. And that is why I do what I do. I have witnessed peoples’ lives change for the better because they love way their home makes them feel.
Your home doesn’t have to cost a million dollars to look like it belongs in a magazine. Yes, many of the homes you see in magazines are aspirational, but there are just as many that are decorated on a tight budget. I’ve seen garages transformed on a dime. And, I’ve scouted plenty of multi-million dollar homes where the design is not magazine-worthy.
I’ve also changed the way people feel about their homes by simply working with their furniture, tidying things up, and adding inexpensive
accessories. Recently, I worked on The Quick & Easy Room Makeover series for Ikea (ikea.hgtv.ca), where I helped three couples transform two rooms in their homes with textiles and accessories.
In the photo at top, a young couple had the basics: a sofa, coffee table and side tables. Excepting the inexpensive slipper chair ($249), wicker armchairs ($99), and drapery panels ($69 a pair), every other room-changer in this magazine-worthy living room is an accessory. Yes, that would be every pillow, throw, picture frame or vase.
Good design can be about the magic of paint, fabric or second-hand finds. Style is not about money. Money can make decorating and well, most things in life, much easier. But true style is about passion and research. And by research, I mean shopping the design market, watching those decorating TV shows, collecting great inspiration photos on Pinterest, and reading magazines and newspapers to figure out what pillows will make you happy to come home.
Thank you for reading my column. Opinions contrary to mine are always welcome.
Samantha Pynn, Special to National Post