One of the parts of the design process that I love the most is the accessorizing that caps the scheme that I’ve created for a space. Of course, it’s fun for me to make big color and pattern selections for the key room elements. But it’s those “littles”—artwork, pillows, objects, travel finds, and more—that give a room its personality. And after wallpaper and window treatments have been installed and furniture arrangements have been placed, nothing completes a room more than accessorizing tables, shelves, and walls- just like when I add statement earrings to enhance a new dress that I’m wearing or a chic handbag to add oomph to my blazer and jeans.

There are three specific accessory categories that I regularly rely on not only for an extra boost of style but for their functionality benefits, too. Below, I’m giving you my ideas on boxes, trays, and bowls and why they should always be top of mind when thinking about smaller decorative items for your home.


Boxes are perfect to disguise anything that’s not particularly sightly. Buy them as singles or stack nesting boxes when height is needed. The trick, of course, is to remember what you’re storing in those boxes. I always keep one on the coffee table for remotes and coasters.


I know that it’s summer and the idea of being served a colorful cocktail sounds fabulous. But trays can be used for so much more than transporting drinks and snacks. Use them to anchor like objects throughout the house. A tray on an entry table is the perfect place to place keys and sunglasses that will be ready to grab on the way out.


These pretty little gems are perfect to keep anything that’s loose from rolling away or falling off a table. And if protected with an insert, they can be used to display a low flower arrangement as well. I love a bowl on low tables to give height and dimension.

Boxes, trays, and bowls come with plenty of benefits.

Affordable and easy to find.

There has been a time or two where I’ve struggled to settle on the right sofa or perfect size dining table. But boxes, bowls, and trays are everywhere from big-box retailers to small boutiques that carry wares from small-batch artists and makers. You’ll also find plenty of options at flea markets and tag sales.  My personal favorite is an antique silver box that was given to me by a dear friend as a housewarming gift. I also frequently use a golden-toned Mark and Graham tray to place glasses on my kitchen island for guests.

Something manageable to bring home from trips.

You know the feeling when you are shopping local markets during vacation travel. Asking yourself the ease of hauling it back always affects the transaction after discovering something especially chic. But these objects can be transported easily. Pack a little bubble wrap and tissue in your suitcase (it weighs nothing after all), to protect what you buy enough for airport travel. You might even consider starting a collection. Buy a small bowl from everywhere you visit then place them all on a neutral tray. The presentation will be stunning during a party where nuts, olives, and candies will satisfy guests before dinner begins.

Opportunity to introduce new materials.

I adore all the beautiful inlay that I spotted when we visited Marrakesh a few years back. The colors and intricate decoration charmed me with visual bliss. But a little goes a long way. When searching for these specific pieces, this is your chance to bring buffalo horn, capiz shell, mother of pearl, coconut shell, hair-on-hide, and other exotic materials into the room for additional texture and interest.

Reason to bring beauty to organization.

A modified version of “Build it and they will come,” is applicable when it comes to trays, boxes, and bowls. “Buy it, and you will find something to use it for.” Whether it’s car keys, jewelry, receipts, stamps, and other small objects, keep everything corralled in a stylish way. That lidded box that you bought from the art festival? Now there’s a handsome spot for remotes so they are accessible for your next binge-watch. Pull out that small trinket bowl that once graced your grandmother’s house and use it to safely keep your ring each night when you remove it.



Supports regular refreshing and update. The custom size sofa that was created for your living room is probably there to stay, and so is the runner that climbs the staircase. But the best part about accessories is that they can live in one room for a while, and then move to a different spot for a change of scenery. If a space is starting to look a little tired, remove all of the accessories, and then reassign everything or several things to a different part of the house. That small step will provide an instant update.



I know that when the design process nears its end, it can be easy to forget about the accessories. But when you acquire boxes, bowls, and trays, know that they are an investment for style and organization.