A Good Centerpiece is Hard to Find: How to Anchor a Room with a Decoration

We have a lot of friends at Prestige Painting, and since we spend a whole heck of a lot of time fixing up, prettying up and even just going in and out of peoples’ homes as we work, we’ve come to hold the position of the “go-to” folks in our groups of friends when it comes to design and decorating tips. Usually, these questions come calmly and even happily, such as when people need help deciding a color for the bathroom or tips on how to scrape paint from a window, but there’s one question that almost always seems to come with a frazzled, even frantic tone behind it: how in the world do you find a good centerpiece?


Something about the fact that a centerpiece takes so much of the focus of the room, yet is in general so much smaller than other important parts of the room (walls, furniture, etc.) really throws some people for a loop, and maybe for good reason. Centerpieces are hard for a variety of reasons: you have to go find them (and it’s not like there’s a “Centerpiece Depot”), they can be taken as representations of your entire personality, a bad one can ruin the vibe of a whole room and, above all, they can be just about anything!

While we can’t point you to a magic place that’ll have your ideal centerpiece just waiting for you, we certainly can give a few tips that can seriously help narrow down the hunt for those of you that, like our friends, are finding the search a little (or a lot!) nerve wracking. If that sounds like you, then let this post guide you, and maybe we can turn this difficult process into an adventure.

1.    Get in the Right Mindset

So here’s the deal: not every good centerpiece is going to work with your room. Put this in your brain, and the chance of your end results being great will skyrocket: You’re not looking for a centerpiece; you’re looking for the centerpiece.

2.    Take Stock of Your Situation

To make sure that the centerpiece is what you end up with, you need to do an honest evaluation of your room. This means a few things.

First, how much stuff is in here already? When it comes to finding a centerpiece, starting with it first is always easier in the hunt, but it means you’ll need to match the rest of the room to it. It’s probably best in most cases to at least get the color of the walls done and the big pieces of furniture moved in first.

This leads to our second point, which is to note what colors and styles you’ve got going on. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to perfectly match what you have; you just need to make sure your centerpiece compliments what’s already there. For instance, you can sometimes mix a modern centerpiece with antique or rustic furniture (and vice versa) if they have the same colors and/or similar lines. And, if you’re going for a theme in the room already, you definitely don’t want the centerpiece to stray from the trend unless it does so in a really clever way (say, a cloud chandelier in an aviation themed room).

The last thing to note is very important: you need to get a good idea of the dimensions of your room in the area where you’d like your piece to go. Do you have a lot of wall space? Is the wall clear to the floor, or is there something else in that part of the room? This is incredibly useful, as it cuts a huge number of potential pieces out of the running. Of course, this is also good to know if you find a piece you love that doesn’t fit the dimensions, as you’ll know whether rearranging is possible.

3.    Get Creative with Your Hunting

When you know what your room situation is, and you’ve accepted that not every great piece will work, you’re ready to hunt. Before you head to that chain store, however, let’s talk about some better options that’ll leave you with a piece you’ll likely be much happier with in the end.

The most obvious alternative is to go antiquing, and this is certainly a great option. The major drawback to this is that these stores often cater to people just like you, so they’re able to really hike up the prices. The pieces might be great, but consider that you might be able to find something very similar in other venues for a fraction of the cost.

What kind of places do we mean? We’re talking about spots like reseller shops that don’t cater to those looking to decorate, such as thrift stores and flea markets. Lots of people who “pick” (meaning to go out and find items to resell) for these kinds of shops end up coming across some incredible items that might not necessarily be what they usually sell, so they price them very low. They might even do this just to sell something fast, so always check out these places.

If you’re a little braver or more knowledgeable about the kind of things you like, take things a step further by going to estate sales or even approaching people who have a lot of stuff in storage (a la the show “American Pickers”). There are even some chain resell shops that have big distribution warehouses where they sell unsorted items by the pound! Your trusty writer here (who has a bit of a fascination with sci-fi and 70’s design), in fact, recently centered a home office with a pristine condition board game map from 1972 that had gorgeous colors and graphic design, and it cost only $2 plus the frame. We’ll get back to this in our next step, as it’s a great example of an outside-the-norm piece that worked.

Similar to bargain hunting like this, but likely a little more costly, is using the Internet to find a piece. Craigslist and eBay are absolutely full of incredible items, some of which people are getting rid of for very little, as they haven’t thought to use them as decoration (or aren’t interested in doing so). You’ll have to pay shipping, but you’re very likely to find some hugely unique pieces this way. Which brings us to our last tip…

4.    Don’t Limit Your Options

You should, of course, keep in mind your dimensions and the other information you gathered in the steps above, but beyond that, don’t limit yourself when it comes to choosing. What we mean by that is not necessarily to always go with the most unique thing, but instead to keep an eye out for both traditional and non-traditional pieces.

For instance, when this writer found that 1972 board game map, a friend I was with thought it was cool to look at, and then just moved on. I, on the other hand, knew that I had a room I was decorating that had certain colors and a few other pieces of graphic design from the sixties and seventies, plus a decent amount of sci-fi novels on the shelves, so I immediately thought it might look good in a frame. I bought it, framed it, and now everyone who walks in the room goes straight to it and starts asking about it!

When searching for your own, just keep in mind that if it can be hung or displayed, and it fits the colors, space restrictions and style of your room as well as your personal tastes, it’s a good piece and worth consideration as a center.

This info might seem a little general, and it is, but that’s because in the end, choosing a centerpiece is like choosing a car or your home itself: done right, it should be an extension of your personality and sense of design and style (as well as that of the room). You’ll know it when you see it, and all anyone else can do is just give you a little guidance to make the search easier and more fun. We at your Alabama painters company hope we’ve done that for you today, and we wish you some seriously good hunting. Now get out there and find that piece!

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