Whether it’s art or accessories, the finishing touch in an interior is key for tying a room’s design together and making the space live-in ready. We talked with eight designers from Dering Hall about their favorite finishing touches that bring their vision to fruition and make a space feel not only complete, but like home. Plus, they offer advice for final touch refreshes to effortlessly give a room an upgrade whenever you crave change.

Favorite Finishing Touches: “It may come as no surprise, but the last piece(s) we add to a space when designing are the accessories. Anything from books, trays, throw pillows, candles, vases, etc.! This is also our favorite part. It’s amazing the impact these smaller items have on a design – don’t underestimate the power of accessories! We look at the areas in need of filling or added depth, texture, and/or color. There is so much opportunity to be creative and adventurous when it comes to selecting and placing accessories. They really are a gateway to a playful and layered design!”

Design Advice: “Consider what’s currently missing in the space. Is it too neutral? Too bare? Not as interesting as you hoped? Not consistent with other areas in your home? Once you identify what’s lacking, build from there. Get creative and play around. Mix and match, place items in unusual ways and see how it feels. When it comes to accessorizing, nothing has to be permanent. Try things out until you land on a final collection and arrangement you love. The finishing touches in this space were the floral arrangements and accessories on the bookshelves. Fresh flowers and plants have an unmatched ability to bring life and luxury to any space so we try to use them as much as possible in our projects. In addition, the bookshelves offered the perfect opportunity to bring sophistication and interest to this study, while also providing a contrasting color scheme against the darker paint color.”

“A room is still incomplete when it just feels like something is missing.”

— Blaine Gabrisch, Talbot Cooley, Houston, TX

Favorite Finishing Touches: “The last pieces that we tend to add to a room are the fun accessories! A well-designed, finished room is styled and accessorized to your personal taste. I think adding layers to the space through accessories such as books, art, pillows, floral, etc., make the space feel more like a home, thus giving the room that ‘finished’ feel. “

Design Advice: “In this room, the finishing touch was the custom round iron shelf! We wanted to make sure that the natural element of the fully slabbed backsplash and countertop were really the focal point when you walk into the room. When selecting the light fixtures and barstools, we opted for pieces that had clean lines and didn’t steal the show from the beautiful slab. My advice to someone who wants to refresh their space is to change out the pillows every once in a while. Keep your main furniture pieces neutral so that you can change the accent color and refresh every couple of years!”

“When it’s right, you just know.”

— Les Ensembliers, Montréal, Canada

Favorite Finishing Touch: “Art… always art!”

Design Advice: “The character of this space [pictured above] is elegant and traditional with its grand stone staircase. The soul of the space takes a complete contemporary vibe through the selection of art and sculpture. That, for me, is the most important part. Knowing when you’re finished with a room is a sensation: it just doesn’t feel right until it does. It takes time to get it right. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it takes trial and error, but when it’s right, you just know. Obviously pillows, an accent tables, or a great new pair of lamps will do the trick to help finish a room, but I always encourage my clients to invest in art. You’ll never regret adding a great piece in a room and changing the whole feel of the space. To me, it is the best and most impactful and elegant way to make a fresh new take on a room.”

Courtesy of Randy Heller Inc. / Pure & Simple Interior Design

“A room that is incomplete lacks the layering process. There is a misconception with homeowners — they think that filling a room with furniture completes the room, and that is the farthest from the truth in my opinion.”

— Randy Heller Inc. / Pure & Simple Interior Design, Highland Park, IL

Favorite Finishing Touches: “The last pieces that I add to a room would be art and accessories. In this room, and all rooms that I design, when considering the finishing touches, I always strive to come up with ideas that will create an unexpected pleasure upon entering the room for the first time. I always consider or think about bringing in visual as well as tactile textures. In this room the finishing textures would be the rough yet warm sisal wall-to-wall rug, the dark, moody, vintage brutalist lamps made from black-dipped steel, the polished yet aged blackened mirrors, the applied moldings I added to the ceiling to create formality, and the freshly picked green moss for its fragrance, color, and natural texture representing the outdoors.”

Design Advice: “For homeowners looking to just freshen their space, I would suggest adding fresh flowers. It’s hard to mess that up and does not require a professional designer! If a DIY wants to be a bit more daring, I would suggest wallpaper or paint.”

Courtesy of Matthew Carter Interiors

“Sometimes you have to be flexible and a bit spontaneous in order for a house not to look too contrived.”

— Matthew Carter Interiors, Lexington, KY

Favorite Finishing Touches: “I try not to buy everything at once because it can feel staged to me. I’ll typically wait until closer to the end to find smaller tables, lamps, and odds and ends. I don’t always plan a rug in the beginning either. Sometimes it is better to leave certain things to chance — I find it feels more collected in the end. Not everything has to match!”

Design Advice: “In this room [pictured above], the pair of yellow Fortuny fauteuil chairs were added at the end. We originally had them upholstered for the master bedroom, but found they added so much to the dining room. Sometimes you have to be flexible and a bit spontaneous in order for a house not to look too contrived. When a room is finished, I can honestly just feel it. I know when to add, but also when to stop. Scale is everything. Many times, a large basketful of something wonderful is enough to do the trick. My favorite is a mass of maidenhair fern. Or perhaps it is a large found object or sculpture. Organic and simple usually beats over-thought and too decorative.”

Peter Murdoch Photography

“[A room is incomplete] when it looks like no one lives there. There have to be elements of real life for rooms to be believable. We do that with books, objects, personal items such as personal photographs, things like that.”

— Bella Mancini Design, New York, NY

Favorite Finishing Touches: “We always add art and accessories last. We look at them as the jewelry of the room – after assessing the room as a whole we figure out what needs to be punched up or dressed down, or color stories that need further development. The finishing touch in this elevator vestibule was the mirror and umbrella stand. We loved how the black and white Fornasetti pattern complemented the floors and how the mirrror’s brass details popped off of the subtle strie of the Phillip Jeffries wallcovering.”

Design Advice: “I often tell people to start collections, whether it be mid-century pottery in one color or a set of glass paperweights. Giving a room something to do a double-take on is always a great way to finish.”

Courtesy of Courtney Hill Interiors

“We never want residents or guests to ‘want’ for anything.”

— Courtney Hill Interiors, Houston, TX

Favorite Finishing Touches: “Fresh flowers, art, and accessories. In the bathroom, monogrammed linen hand towels, a pretty tray for guest towels, a bud vase, and luxurious hand wash and lotion.”

Design Advice: “Since this space [pictured above] is a powder room at the end of a hallway, we wanted the design to be impactful with all of the elements deliberate and well thought-out. The finishing touches are held in all of the juxtapositions throughout the space – the soft pink flowers and rose scented soap against the anthracite walls; the silk sconce shades against the rigid design of the wallpaper; and the feminine qualities of the accessories against the edginess of the angles in the room. We always strive to leave a space feeling functional, comfortable, and lived in. We never want residents or guests to ‘want’ for anything – in a bathroom, there should be good lighting, fragrances, soaps, hand towels, etc. Additionally, a lack of art and accessories are evidence of an incomplete space.”

Courtesy of Jeff Andrews Design

“If it doesn’t feel like home, it’s not complete.”

— Jeff Andrews Design, Los Angeles, California

Favorite Finishing Touches: “It varies from project to project, but usually the final layer of a room includes accessories and the client’s personal items and collections, as well as my own spin with new (or old) things, flowers, and maybe even an artwork shuffle.”

Design Advice: “All things in a room make up the whole of the design and add strength to the overall feeling. To me, finishing touches are the small things that can change for any occasion — scented candles, seasonal flowers, and people enjoying a room are the best additions. Every room needs to be pulled together with objects of meaning as well as pieces that bring the color story to life like pillows, framed photos, pottery, and books. If it doesn’t feel like home, it’s not complete. Fill each room with things you love, things that bring you enjoyment every time you enter the room.”


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