By Barbara Thau
NEW YORK–Accessorize: That’s what home retailers are urging shoppers to do as the downturn in the economy and housing malaise has taken the wind out of home goods sales.
The implicit message is that while cash-strapped shoppers won’t plunk down thousands of dollars for a couch these days, they could be enticed to splurge on a decorative pillow or accent chair.
Retailers such as Williams-Sonoma Home and Pier 1 Imports are playing the home accessories angle by marketing the idea of inexpensive redecorating, romanticizing accessories and promoting their power to transform a room.
Pier 1’s latest summer catalog is chock full of small-ticket decorative accessories. Low-price-point merchandise dominates the 48-page book.
The retailer is spotlighting outdoor entertaining, new seating options and home entertaining with an item-driven tack.
“Small changes. For small change,” reads the copy of a 12-item home spread that include a $20 butterfly outdoor wall decor piece, a $69 terrace chair and a $35 fish planter.
Another page suggests that shoppers “complete the look” of their wicker and iron seating, or “freshen up chairs you already have” with design-driven seat cushions from $30 to $45 that evoke the look of stained glass, toile, as well a folkloric feel.
Meanwhile, Williams-Sonoma Home is calling out “new accessories for every room of the home” in its latest catalog, dubbed, “the summer decorating issue.”
In spreads throughout the book, the tony chain is pairing design-themed, big-ticket room settings with a page of complementary accessories.
In one nautical-themed spread, Chatam wicker chairs are featured with madras napkins for $48, a silver-plated decorative lobster crab for $28, and an earthenware pitcher and tray from $38 to $58.
Trend-setter House Beautiful magazine is also elevating home accessories with its latest issue devoted entirely to decorating with details. In what it’s calling, “The Accessories Issue,” the shelter book picks 15 great home accessories, such as handmade planters from El Salvador for $32, acrylic curtain rings for $85 and Cynthia Rowley paper plates for $2 from Target.
During a recent conference call, Gregg Steinhafel, chief executive officer of Target, said home accessories such as pillows and sheets in bedding, and patio seating cushions in seasonal furniture, were on fire, while bedding ensembles and patio sets were not.
House Beautiful Editor in Chief Stephen Drucker ponders the decorative muscle of a home accessory in the accessories issue.
“This issue was inspired by something the decorator Bebe Winkler told me long ago,” he says in a column. “It’s not the first thousand dollars that makes a room, it’s the last hundred.”