There are some wall decor items that always make me pause and take a closer look at a room, even if I've seen them a thousand times before. Put them in a stark modern loft or a cramped bohemian library; they'll catch your eye and make the room.
• Intaglios. We've seen these little plaster forms skyrocket in decor popularity in the last decade. Put them in modern frames, group them in multiples, line a hallway. They always look crisp and refined, but simple enough not to appear stuffy.
• Gilt frames and mirrors. Maybe it's that they're so eye-catching and so over-the-top, but gilt frames can get away with murder… ok, not murder, but definitely trespassing. You'd think these flashy beasts would read pretentious, or turn a room gaudy, but often in high contrast settings they can actually make a room appear lived in and relaxed.
• Mercury Glass Mirrors. Age usually elicits at least the air of refinement, wisdom, and intrigue, which is exactly what makes these murky mirrors so attractive. The patina alludes to a story, without the country flair of chipping paint.
• Maps. Unless you've been living under a rock, you've seen maps grace all sorts of rooms… probably on this blog… probably within the last five minutes. Kids' rooms, bathrooms, on the ceiling, they work just about anywhere.
• Busts. Even seeing them flung far and wide across blog land, I'm still intrigued by busts. They can be pretentious, light-hearted, ironic, austere, but they always make a statement.
What other classics would you add to the list?