Nice looking stand!! I would think they embellishments are decorative and I really like the color of the stand myself.
Personal preference on which side you want to face out; if you are looking for a clean look or plan on placing another tank on the lower level, I would place the decorated side to the rear.
Eheim Pimpette #270
Eheim Pro II 2028; Classics Series -2215, 2217, 2260, 2262; Pro 2229 Wet/Dry