The Observer & Eccentric, October 5, 2000

Little Things, Big Difference

Creative use of accessories solves decorating problems

Written by Mary Klemic, Staff Writer

Little things-as in accessories and accent pieces-mean a lot when it comes to decorating your home, says Jeanine Matlow.

"When you have a little budget or lack of space, it forces you to be creative," the Farmington Hills resident said.

Through her business, Conversation Pieces, Matlow-who says she's "a decorator, not a designer"-helps people find creative solutions for decorating problems, making the most of what they have.

She has assisted in such ways as rearranging furniture, helping people shop, and preparing homes for real estate showings. Matlow describes her service as a "jump start."

"I think people have more capability (for decorating) than they realize," she said.

Matlow will give classes through Farmington Public Schools Community Education Saturday, Oct. 21, and to members of Gilda's Club in Royal Oak Monday, Oct. 23.

Matlow practices what she preaches when it comes to decorating her condo. She makes the most of various spaces and pieces, and is true to her personality.

"The biggest compliment (about a decorated room) is that it looks like me. I really think that's important," she said. "I like old, I like new, anything from flea market to expensive."


The decorating consultant shared a few tips:

  • If you have a collection, spread the pieces throughout your rooms instead of keeping them together in one place. Don't be afraid to use special items that are functional. "I like to have people use things that have sentimental value," Matlow said.
  • Keep an eye out for multifunctional pieces, such as ottomans that can be used for storage, nesting tables, and tables with two or more levels. An advantage of nesting tables is that they offer more space when needed and yet don't take up extra room in the meantime.
  • Use furnishings and other objects in different ways. In her home, Matlow displays items on the seats of extra chairs ("You not only are creating an eclectic look, you have plenty of extra seating.")
    She has placed a statue or plant on a small, simple stool, changing the stool into a pedestal. Another stool became an end table after she draped it with a scarf.
    Matlow bought and framed a sheet of wrapping paper bearing a design of books on shelves. The result resembles a trompe l'oeil painting.
  • Wine crates make attractive storage boxes for books and magazines. They become instant shelves or bedside tables when stood on one side, and add height on a surface when turned upside down.
  • A corner area doesn't have to go to waste. Put an easel there to hold a poster, painting or book.
  • A plate rack can hold soaps and small towels in the bathroom, a help if you have little counter space there. A coat rack in the bedroom is a good place to hang clothes at night.
  • Exhibit special plates in a dish rack.
  • Put an old dresser in a closet for extra storage space.
  • Stand a decorative screen in front of a fireplace. Arrange framed photos on bookshelves.
  • "If you feel your home is too cluttered, try editing one room at a time." Determine which pieces can be sold or put into storage. "You will notice the difference right away." Another solution is to rotate the items you have out, changing them seasonally.

Matlow, who has also done theater-set design, always had an interest in "arranging things and creative things," she said.

A little thing got her started in her business. Matlow had a new home and was surprised when most of the comments from visitors were about a miniature shopping cart that was among her knickknacks.

"It made me think the details, the little things...matter," she said. "I think people tend to struggle more with accessories. I think that people sometimes stop with furniture."

Matlow charges an hourly fee. She has bartered with clients, trading services.

Call Conversation Pieces at 248-426-8248.

Article written by Mary Klemic and reprinted courtesy of The Observer & Eccentric (October 5, 2000 edition).