If you can't refurnish, refurbish with an exciting accent piece or two. Single pieces have, within a few years, become not only a hit of the furniture industry, but a distinct favorite of consumers who want to add an attractive grace note or two to their homes rather than invest in a costly ''suite'' of furniture.
The trend indicates a new eagerness on the part of consumers to decorate by the piece and a growing lack of concern about having everything match. People are feeling freer to put together more eclectic assemblages, with or without the help of an interior designer.
Some of these gems of ingenuity are actually termed ''jewel'' pieces by manufacturers, because they highlight or freshen the look of a room with such focus and flair. These individual accent pieces range from breakfronts to armoires, from curio cabinets to ladies' desks, from decorative folding screens to small chests, tables, stands, mirrors, consoles, and the like.
Pulaski Furniture Corporation recently added to its Keepsakes collection of golden-oak furnishings a minigroup of budget stretchers called Gallerie Classics to sell in the $200 to $300 range. Included is a country-pine schoolmaster's desk with lift-up lid, a console with mirror for a hallway, a game table, a corner cabinet, and a hall tree.
This innovative company also came up this year with a working $1,200 telephone booth in natural oak or English-style red paint to tuck into a corner of a family or recreation room and a TV cabinet that looks like an old-fashioned banker's safe. This fall the company plans to add a soda fountain-ice cream bar to its growing list of unusual items.
Most collections of accent pieces have telltale names. Et Cetera is the apt title chosen by Drexel for its collection of choice single pieces that has been growing in importance for the past 20 years. Connoisseur is the name chosen by Heritage for its collection of ''custom look'' dining and occasional pieces. The collection offers Oriental, classic, and contemporary design themes in such materials as marble, brass, glass, exotic burl woods, and bleached and chinoiserie finishes. Pennsylvania House also chose Connoisseur as the name for its group of traditional accent pieces.
At Lane, the division is called Accents, at Bernhardt it is A La Carte, and at Century it is titled Complements.
Baker's newest group of exquisite accents made in the 18th-century mahogany tradition is called Baker's Dozen II. Its Continental Collection consists of 60 highly individualized designs in the international style, based on 18th- and 19 th-century French design. New additions to the Stately Homes of England and Scotland collection offer grand-scale single pieces for those who have the means to buy and the settings to accommodate them.
V.I.P. is the umbrella name selected by American of Martinsville to cover its gallery-type displays of accent and occasional pieces from its American Curios, Potpourri, Serendipity, and Entertainers groups. Included is a decorated bombe chest, a yew-wood veneer box on stand, a traditional etagere with fluted columns , and a 42-inch lotus-top card table with four flip-top sections that open to give extra dining space.
What is new in many of these special pieces, company officials say, is their ''opulent shape, delicate detail, and unique function.''
Thomasville's Four Corners Accents, a collection of imports gathered from all parts of the world, has been a curious attraction for 13 years. It was begun at a time when consumers were becoming acutely aware of the very different furniture being made by craftsmen and cabinetmakers in various parts of the world. Thomasville dispatched a specialist to search out superb single items that would complement the many domestic groups the company was manufacturing in Thomasville, N.C. They also chose unique pieces that could not be profitably made in this country.
This year Thomasville also added its own Accents program of pieces made in its domestic factories.
The companies mentioned here by no means represent the entire growing list of manufacturers who are pleasing consumers with their varied assortments of accent pieces at all prices.