Home Experts Share Their Favorite Finishing Touches—and Explain Exactly Where to Find Them
The hard part is nearly over: You've endured the renovation, chosen a color scheme, and arranged the furniture, which means that your room redesign is just about complete. Chances are, though, that you have a nagging feeling that something—if only you could put your finger on it!—is missing. If it helps you feel any better, design professionals often feel this pull, too. The only difference between you and them? It's their jobs to identify that finishing touch, the piece that takes a space out of the renovation phase right into completion.
Since these are often the items that make a house a home, you want to make sure you're sourcing yours from the right makers and places—which is why we asked lauded interior designers and Living home editor Lorna Aragon to share exactly what they look for—and exactly where they look for them—when completing any room redesign. As for the finishing touch pictured here? "You can find lamp toppers of every height, width, color, and silhouette at Just Shades," says Lorna of Manhattan's Midtown design depot. "It's an institution. The staff instantly reads the proportions of any lamp you bring in and points you in the right direction."
Your cherry-on-top element can be small, like said lampshade. For Reath Design founder Frances Merrill, a tiny ceramic shelf from the British homewares shop Tinsmiths ($55 for 10" by 4.5", tinsmiths.co.uk) adds a vital sliver of surface area above pedestal sinks. Just as impactful? Los Angeles-based Simran Kagan swaps basic metal heating and air-conditioning vent grilles for the intricate laser-cut wood designs from Pattern Cut (from $30, patterncut.com), and paints them to match the trim. And interior designer Amanda Lindroth, located in the Bahamas, pairs "inexpensive, great-looking" white dinner plates from World Market and Pier1 Imports with her wicker and tropical-print tableware.
Sometimes, however, the finishing touch is more than a touch. Merill, for example, equips many a kitchen with sturdy yet spare ladder-back S. Timberlake Shaker barstools or chairs (from $325 each, stimberlake.com); the tape for the woven seats and paint or stain for the wooden frames can be customized for any décor. Not sure where to find these bigger-picture items? Washington, D.C., designer Darryl Carter scours architectural salvage yards like Caravati's in Richmond, Virginia, for woodworking details (that's how he found the raised-panel wainscoting in his kitchen). New York City-based Alexa Hampton, on the other hand, turns to online sources; she scans Etsy and eBay for fabric remnants—she once snagged just enough of a bright-orange Lee Jofa tiger-striped silk to reupholster an armchair. Ahead, more of Lorna and these designers' best tips for finding your own pièce de résistance.
"No two Kirsten Hecktermann throw pillows are exactly alike," says designer Heide Hendricks of the Connecticut firm Hendricks Churchill. The hand-dyed velvet differs even within the same shade. Hendricks likes to top sofas with variations on one color.
Shop Now: Kristen Heckermann Pillows, from $85 each, kirstenhecktermann.bigcartel.com.
The Brooklyn Home Company's Holly Waterfield enlists these baskets as flexible corral-alls—for extra pillows and throws in dens, shoes in entryways, toys in kids' rooms, rolled towels in bathrooms. "I love the chunky texture," she says. "For the price, they are really sturdy."
Shop Now: World Market Hyacinth Margaux Tote Baskets, from $30 each, worldmarket.com.
Hendricks gets jute rugs on Overstock to ground her clients' living spaces. She layers thin ones, like the Miranda Haus option, under antique patterned carpets. A "beefy, tactile" type, like The Curated Nomad's "Saragossa" rug, anchors a room on its own. She rolls it out when the upholstery and curtains already bring plenty of color.
Hendricks calls the well-made linen duvet covers and soft, neutral sheets from Rough Linen "the perfect base layer." Her favorite for clients is the "versatile, heavyweight, extremely durable" Orkney collection in Plain White. To add one-of-a-kind character, New York City designer Sheila Bridges heads upstate to Hammertown Barn, in Pine Plains, New York, for vibrant vintage kantha quilts and embroidered pillows.
Shop Now: Rough Linen Orkney Collection in Plain White, from $50, roughlinen.com.
Lorna hits up the Home Depot for patterned aluminum sheeting in a variety of metal finishes and patterns. "It has tons of creative uses," she says, from refining radiator covers to replacing glass panes in cabinet fronts.
Shop Now: Home Depot Patterned Aluminum Sheeting, from $8 per square foot, homedepot.com.
It's not a surprise that we love California Closets, and specifically, Martha's new line, which feigns the look of expensive built-in shelving, but is well-priced—and you can take it with you when you move! "The gold-mesh details, hidden hardware, and quality aren't what you expect from modular furniture. They're very Martha," says Lorna.
Shop Now: California Closets x Martha Stewart The Everyday Closet System, from $999, californiaclosets.com.
New York City designer Young Huh adores "beautiful, fanciful" Julia B. table linens. The hand- embroidered, heirloom-quality dinner napkins are made to last, so you'll enjoy them for years to come. "And they wash and iron perfectly," she says. "After each use, they look new again."
Shop Now: Julia B. Dinner Napkins, from $38 each, juliab.com.
For knobs, pulls, hinges, and more in polished brass, antique nickel, and everything in between, Lorna heads to the Brass Center, an emporium located near Manhattan's Decoration & Design Building, which is home to more than 130 designer showrooms. "The variety is immense," she says. Shopping online? For a vast selection of wooden accents, go to Niceknobs.com, suggests Merrill, who often uses the site's walnut cabinet pulls in her work.
Shop Now: Nice Knobs Assorted Knobs, from $1 each, niceknobs.com.
"I stock my clients' kitchen shelves with super-affordable IKEA Blanda Matt serving bowls," says Waterfield. "The tones of the wood work really well with my simple color palettes. They stack easily, and are the perfect size for holding fruit on a countertop, or serving salad or popcorn."
Shop Now: IKEA Blanda Matt Serving Bowls, from $6 each, ikea.com.
Portland, Oregon-based Jessica Helgerson unfurls handprinted wallpapers by English artist Marthe Armitage in her projects every chance she gets—from bathrooms to dining rooms to bedrooms. "She's my favorite wallpaper designer," Helgerson says. "I love how subtle and elegant her patterns are."
Shop Now: Marthe Armitage Wallpapers in Oakleaf, Chestnut, and Blackberry, price upon request, marthearmitage.co.uk.