Design Capsule : My Top 15 Essential Décor Elements for Every Season

There are 15 essential design items that I use year round….whether they are found in my own Property Brothers featured dream home, a magazine shoot or in a celebrity home, these are my interior design “must haves.” The majority of my design capsule items can be found on Amazon, at HomeGoods or in Pottery Barn as I try to affordably and stylishly design functional spaces for families. If you’re looking to redesign a space in your home or if you are just “stuck,” try combining a few of these items to refresh your space.

1. Corbel book ends - I use these in my built-in bookcases, on consoles/entertainment units and on tops of dressers. This is a great classic look that works with many styles.

2. Glass Jugs/Vases - I particularly love sea glass, Spanish glass or colored glass. Greens and blues can be used as a neutral color and I love how the transparency of these jugs, mixed with greenery, can transform the look of any space. Use in bookshelves, countertops or even on top of a cutting board in the kitchen. Click here to purchase these vases. Two of my favorite local stores in the Nashville area, The Faded Farmhouse and Mercantile 1858, also carry these jugs and vases along with many of my design essentials.


3. Lambs Ear and Eucalyptus - These are my two favorite kinds of greenery to add to year round designs. I prefer to buy them in sprigs so that I can add them to vases, bend them into jars or place amongst tablescapes. I always keep 8-10 pieces on hand for decorating. (Click on photos for links.)

4. Hobnail jars - These decorative accents are best used on top of stacks of books, on dressers, in bookcases and for those tough to decorate surfaces. I use these on coffee table trays and in groupings in my kitchen. Add greenery, fresh flowers or seasonal decor as fillers.

5. White dish sets - My tablescapes have been featured on Good Morning America, have been used for HomeGoods design programs and have been seen in many magazines. One design staple that I always talk about is the use of white or ivory dishes with hobnail trim. Combined with textured placemats or colorful dishes, this simple and affordable solution is a foundation for so much of what I do in kitchens and dining rooms. Portugal makes my favorite hobnail brand that is ALWAYS found at HomeGoods. I have continued to add to my collection over the years and there is rarely a trip where I cannot find a great set there. I also have this set from Pottery Barn that is usually on sale.


6. Cutting boards - These wooden kitchen staples aren’t just used for cutting anymore, I layer these upright against backsplashes and set vases of fresh flowers on them for kitchen islands.


7. Neutral colored/Vintage books - Books are an essential element of most designers. Not only do we use these for book shelves, but we use these to add height to surfaces. I purchase a lot of these at flea markets, Etsy and thrift stores. Group these horizontally to display picture frames or knick knacks. Display them, spin in with pages out, to add light to a space. Hand stamped books are also another way to personalize a space and many you can customize for just a few dollars.


8. Risers - Perhaps you have someone handy who can cut small circles of wood for you, otherwise delight in the people selling $8 pieces of wood to add height to ANYTHING for ANY display in your home. Whether its placed under a candlestick, giving height to a jar or use to rest a candle on top, I have a basket of these that I use, year round, for various design projects and arrangements.

9. Beaded, wooden trays - I love these for coffee tables, kitchen islands, bathroom counters and tablescapes. Add greenery, candles, books and photo frames to complete the look. The Mudpie tray below is one of my all time favorites. Click the link to purchase.


10. Ivory Pillows - I have a pillow problem that has resulted in not one, but two, pillow closets in my home. Most of the year and for most seasons, I use neutral or ivory pillows as the foundation for any pillow grouping in my home. I just like the freshness of a lighter color that always coordinates with the woodwork. Then I will add seasonal, colored or printed pillows to the couch as well. Here are two different versions I have in my personal home. (Chenille pillow on left from Nordstrom. Jacquard pillow on right from Pottery Barn.)

11. Fiddle leaf fig trees - These are the trending trees of the year. You can find them in every model home from farmhouse to modern. While I won’t buy a $500 fake tree, I also try to avoid some of the cheaper craft store versions because they just look too fake. I have picked up two great ones at Home Goods and also have found this beautiful one from World Market.


12. Candlesticks - Invest in my three favorite varieties… white washed, wooden hand turned and tin. I mix and match these all through my house and since they are all neutral and offer different textures, they work year round. The Mudpie, hand turned ones were featured on my mantle during our Property Brothers episode (so many people asked where they were from.) You can buy these individually at The Faded Farmhouse or individually /set on Amazon. I like to use the wider, white washed ones for tablescapes and coffee tables while I use the tin ones on book cases, desks and dressers.

13. White bedding - My hands down, favorite duvet of all time, the one I have ordered three times over is this Pottery Barn ruched duvet. I have used it as my main bedspread and have also folded it in half to layer at the end of my bed. This works in a master, guest room or teen room! It’s fresh, its simple and its classic.


14. Lanterns - Another decor staple in my home are lanterns. I use them on fireplace mantles, amongst my tablescapes, at the base of the hearth, on dressers…if there is empty space, a lantern is a great way to add dimension AND light! Throw in a flameless candle with a small wreath at the bottom and you have a budget friendly solution to common design puzzles. HomeGoods and Kirklands have great lanterns and I have also linked the ones from Amazon and Pottery Barn below that I have in my own home. (Click the photo for links.)

15. Accent mirrors - Many people struggle with what to put on empty walls and one of my favorite suggestions is to hang an accent mirror. Mirrors add light by reflecting natural light and they are simply and clean opposed to gallery collages. I love mirrors that look like windows because they add an artistic and architectural element to any space.