Design Tips: Like with Like

10593053_SDo you have a collection – either small or large – that you value? If so, think about finding a way to display it in your home with flair.

One fundamental design rule is to position like objects together: like with like. But don’t limit your thinking to only combining things that are exactly the same. Like can mean from the same period of time, in the same color or colors, the same shape, the same theme, or anything you can discover that makes a connection.

Now, the old leather-bound books shown above are together, but they don’t have much of a chance to make a statement sitting on a bookshelf.

7786742_STake a look at about the same number of books combined with a roll of older paper, an old inkwell and a feather that could be a quill pen. By combining the books with other items related to writing from approximately the same era, they change from a few interesting bindings to a design statement.

For small items or things that you don’t mind people playing with, look for interesting ways to build displays that use more than the sense of sight. For example, set music boxes or wind-up toys together on a table with a little note that says, “Please touch.”

10847524_SMaybe you have your grandparents’ old collection of buttons or marbles tucked away in a closet. How about pulling them out and placing them in a container that fits the time those buttons or marbles were used? Set them on a side table next to a favorite spot for your visitors to sit, and you may have created an interactive accessory that your guests will really enjoy. For example, by setting the buttons in the photo in an open old tin box, you encourage people to stop, look, and touch the different materials, sizes and shapes.

These are just a few ideas. Now, when you draw on that designer tip of “like with like,” stretch your imagination to create home accessories that are as unique and interesting as you are.

Understanding Scale

When you’re designing your home, there’s more involved than color and texture. Be sure to factor in the scale of your furniture and accessories.

Take a look at your rooms, particularly the ceiling height. If your rooms are large with high ceilings, you can choose furniture that is bigger in scale and it will look just right in the space.

On the other hand, if your rooms are small and cozy with lower ceilings, the same piece of furniture or accessory may look completely out of proportion. For example, take a look at that large rawhide bone in the mouth of the black Great Dane. It fits perfectly in his mouth and he looks content and correct. In the same way a large sofa can command respect in a big open space, but might take over a smaller room.

Let’s take a look at what happens when an accessory takes over by being too large for its location, as in the photo to the left. The same bone that looks so perfect with the Great Dane overpowers the Chihuahua, and makes both bone and dog look silly. Moving back into the home, take a look at the living room below. This room shows how perfect proportion makes even a simply-decorated room work.

The matching sofas and pair of chairs perfectly fill the available space in the room. The square coffee table is well proportioned to fit among the upholstered pieces. Dark and light tones work well together, balanced across the entire room. When you plan your home design, remember this room and the two dogs. Although they seem to be friends, it’s better if they both stick with bones in the right scale.

Bring a Taste of the Outside Inside with Fresh Flowers

With the Arizona summer barely half over, we can look forward to the future days to come when it will be more pleasant to spend time outside. One good way to bring the feeling of the outside into your home is with fresh flowers.

Shop your favorite florist, pick some from your garden, and check out the flowers available at your grocery or warehouse store. Look for flowers that are perky, with buds only partially open so that they will last.

Put flowers where you spend most of your time. Take a look at this home office to the right. A small bunch of flowers like these gerbera daisies tucked behind the computer monitor add a bright spot to your space. Gerberas are available in a rich variety of colors in one bouquet.  You can also look for flowers with a nice, fresh scent to add a real perfume to your room.


If you’re uncomfortable making your own flower arrangements, go simple. The arrangement at the top of the post is made up of only yellow tulips, all cut to about the same length. Even simpler, how about tackling the easy option to the left. This also uses gerbera daisies, but by using only one or two flowers per vase, you create an almost sculptural look. This is also an inexpensive option since you only have to use a few stems.

For those of you who would rather buy flowers, one bunch can be affordable, so don’t hesitate to experiment. If they don’t turn out the way you imagined, they will still be beautiful. Even the process of arranging flowers can be relaxing and enjoyable. Give yourself a present of fresh flowers every now and again, and bring the best of the season inside.