We all know that pillows, rugs, and candles are the standard go-to pieces for sprucing up a living space. But if you’re paying careful attention to the plethora of decorating shows on television these days, you’ve probably noticed that the designers are turning to some rather interesting objects to use as accessories. You may think that an empty fish tank has no value if it’s not actually holding fish (or some sort of vegetation.) But you would be surprised by the way simple everyday objects add artistic flourishes. Here are some examples.

The use of books is perhaps the easiest way to add an intellectual flair to your home. Granted, if you’ve got nothing but Dr. Seuss lying around, the impact may not exactly be what you intended. Old, jacketless books are great for injecting an “old world” feel. Visit yard sales or thrift stores to locate distressed editions of classic tales. Or, use the slick modern [jacketed] volumes you’ve already read to dress up coffee tables, your nightstand, or other surfaces.


Another popular staple on home decorating shows appears to be fruit. These lovely (edible) accessories typically are arranged nicely in bowls on coffee tables, or in the dining room. For some reason, seeing a bowl of crisp looking green apples is far better than a dusty old vase filled with plastic flowers. Granted, you’ll have to make sure you actually switch out-or eat-these wonderful pieces of d├ęcor, lest they attract “unwanted guests.”


If you can get your hands on a collection of old records (yes, actual vinyl) then you have the makings of a really hip looking media room or home studio. First, make sure the records aren’t rare collectors’ items. Then re-purpose the label. Paint them, or decorate them according to your color scheme. Or leave them as-is to create an authentic vintage effect. Hang them along the wall in a straight line, or in a funky zig-zag pattern. The look will be both stunning and kitschy.

Sporting Goods

You need not be a professional tennis player. In fact, you don’t even have to know how to play the sport to adorn your walls with ordinary tennis rackets. Again, forego spending a lot of money on these common sporting tools. Comb your neighborhoods for those being sold for practically pennies. Dress them any way you like, or refinish the wood before hanging them on the wall. Tennis rackets don’t sound exactly like the most decorative pieces in the world. But they have somewhat of a nautical (and slightly haughty) appearance that would go well in a study or a man’s office. These tools look better as accessories when the entire room is equipped with other sophisticated pieces (like distressed books.) To that effect, vintage golf club bags (even with a few dusty clubs) will complete the country club vibe that you’re going for.

Wine Bottles

Have you ever really paid attention to the artistic charm of wine cellars? Lots of people overlook the powerful appeal of well-placed wine bottles. Wine bottles (especially when full) have a way of making surfaces look sophisticated and worldly. But once they’re emptied, they can still go a long way in decorating one’s home.

My mother used to save her empty wine bottles. She would strip them of their labels, paint them in wild colors, pour lines of glue on them, and then douse them with glitter. The effects were dazzling. Sometimes she would even stick candles in the top, to create really funky candleholders. You don’t have to go to these extremes in the Arts amp; Crafts department. But merely saving the bottles, stripping them and placing them in a “huddle” on an end table can speak artistic volumes. Bind a few together with decorative ribbon, and use as a dining room centerpiece (with or without candles.) But cluster too many empty bottles around the house, and you might make a completely different statement altogether.