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FURNISHINGS : Accessories Can Be Attractive Desk Draw


Despite the large amount of time that's spent working in our home offices, many of us may not give much thought as to how our desk is "decorated." But that may be changing with an ever-expanding selection of accessories.

What will the well-dressed desk be wearing this season?

Classic accessories, clean lines and a little whimsy thrown in for variety, according to Jan Stricker, owner of Frills Gift Gallery, a Yorba Linda shop known for its artistic and upscale desk accessories.

"People sit at desks for long lengths of time, and they like to surround themselves, if possible, with items they enjoy," Stricker said. "One of our biggest sellers now are handblown glass marbles."

Each of the oversized, multicolored globes sits in its own acrylic stand.

"I guess they remind people of their childhood because, even though they are priced at $20 to $60, depending on size, they sell like hot cakes," Stricker said. "Surprisingly, most people initially buy a marble as a gift (for someone else), then end up coming back for themselves. Besides being fun to look at, people like to roll them in their hands while thinking . . . and they're a great conversation piece."

The old standbys--picture frames, bookends and desk clocks--are still around, but they've taken newer, more contemporary forms. Bookends are now art statements in themselves. Heavy blocks of green-tinted, bottle glass have replaced the ornate bookends of a few decades ago. Popular picture frames for desks tend to echo this trend with fewer garnishes and sharper, straighter lines.

"We are seeing an increase in desk clocks as well," Stricker said. "These clocks tend to be smaller with faces about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter. The bodies are often in wood or glass. They also tend to be a little more contemporary with colorful accent colors. People like the idea of desk clocks, but they also want something unique or artistic."

Other big sellers, according to Stricker, are bowls. But not just any bowl, but humorous ones or those that are considered works of art in their own right. Some of the more popular varieties are funny ceramic bowls with feet or other whimsical features, or bottle glass or gray-tinted bowls.

"Bowls are actually quite versatile accessories," Stricker said. "Quite a few people use them as candy dishes, while others like them for business cards, paper clips, potpourri or whatever strikes their fancy. Again, an attractive bowl is a conversation piece and often provides a comfortable or interesting accent."

Small boxes are also gaining popularity. Again, their purpose is twofold: practicality and style. Boxes are often used to hold paper, correspondence, paper clips, post-it notes or other items that are used frequently throughout the day. Some of these "designer" boxes are sleek, polished wood while others are brightly painted or adorned.

Even the standard business cardholders have a new look. Today's desk-bound executives often display their cards in handcrafted glass holders, bowls or small baskets. A favorite among artists and interior designers are small wooden "chairs." Often used as doll accessories, these are pint-sized replicas of Grandpa's favorite overstuffed lounger.

Traditional fountain pens are also making a comeback. Stricker believes people tend to connote a sense of classic style with these writing instruments. Yet, today's consumer is also more price-conscious. While they will spend between $20 and $50 for a pen, few will purchase a $250 version.

Most people opt for a more conservative look when purchasing desk accessories, with only a suggestion of color, despite the availability of floral patterns and bright colors.

"Our biggest sellers are accessories in either black or glass," Stricker said, "although for home offices, people tend to be a little more expressive. But when you think about it, most desks tend to be dark and rather conservative looking, so many of the things people put on them echo this theme.

"Most of our floral prints tend to be purchased by women who may have a white desk at home with Queen Anne legs, or for their personal use. For the office however, both men and women tend to opt for glass."

Luckily, glass features prominently in upscale desk accessories, according to Stricker, much more so than ceramics.

"We've had some beautiful ceramic pieces, and they just don't sell," she said. "I guess it reminds a lot of people of the ceramics classes they took in high school or playing with clay as a child. However, glass is not a medium that most people have worked with and it holds more fascination. Whatever the reason, glass is always a big seller."

Gone too are the days of matched sets of desk accessories. Today the key is mixing a variety of different elements. Even though Stricker does sell matched sets, the demand for them is minimal.

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