Monday, February 6, 2012

Creating a vignette

Console Table, top of dresser, entry table, coffee table, book shelf name a few are perfect places to create a vignette.  Vignette??? It's a fancy word for putting some personal items together in a certain area.  These areas are unique and allow you to show off your personal style.  Putting a space plan together, picking out your large pieces of furniture, laying the rugs, hanging the artwork and mirrors...all come first.  The accessories can then pull the room together and create your personal style aesthetic.  Pay attention to these areas when decorating your home, otherwise they can become cluttered catch-alls and your house will lack the finished look that can really pull a home together.

Here are a few pointers when you are putting together your vignettes.  I will talk in terms of four approaches that make for a good framework and general formula for decorating these areas in your home:
1. Content  2. Quantity  3. Layering  4. Color

Content - For the most part, I like to include these type of  things in my vignettes - a candle, books, and some unique item - usually something vintage or a collectible.

via Google

This content varies depending on the space.  For instance, I might use a little greenery or flowers to add a natural touch and some color.  Where there is an area in need of task lighting, I include a tall lamp.  Also, I am a sucker for trays.  I love to include trays because they add another layer, but also can group different items into a collection, simply by being placed on the tray.

The white tray in this vignette is a good example of corralling a lot of things to create this sea inspired look.

via HGTV

If the flat surface is a more functional space like an entry table - ask the question what function(s) does this space need to provide - a place for mail, keys, or a good light source?   This will help steer you to the accessories required to fill the surface and then you can add in some decorative elements like a candle, small box or a frame.  How you style your vignette should be a personal expression of you, what you love and your style aesthetic.

Quantity - I like to style vignettes in odd numbers - ie. 3 items, 5 items, 7 items.  This number refers to the number of items you are visually drawn to within the vignette.  This is not a hard and fast rule, but is the first place I start when styling a new area.  I think it also helps people limit the number of items they use.   I prefer to not have a lot of symmetry in vignettes because it keeps the look more causal and the odd item rule helps with that.  For instance, a bed side table may have a lamp, picture frame, a small vase with flowers, a stack of books and an alarm clock - 5 items.  For a side table by a sofa, all you need is a lamp, a candle and small decorative bowl - 3 items.

I love the simplicity of this coffee table from A Well Dressed Home.  The tray is placed diagonally and includes a frame (you see the back of frame), candle, and plant on a book - 5 items that visually appear as a collection of three - frame, candle and plant. 

A Well  Dressed Home

A Floating Shelf Vignette I styled - frame, decorative item, plant, clock and stack of books - 5 items. 
Embellished Home

An entry table may have a lamp, picture frame, tray, small bowl to capture keys and some books - 5 items.  I like the composition that an odd number creates.  In addition, I think its a good rule of thumb that once you put your area together, step away to take a good long look then EDIT.  We have a tendency to start out with more when really we need to end with less.  You don't want your vignette to look cluttered or as a catch-all for stuff you couldn't figure out where to put!

Layering - Layer your accessories through texture and composition.  For example, varying texture may include a tall piece of aged, rustic pottery nestled by a wide glass, smooth cylinder with a candle inside and a stack of vintage books.   Mix rough and shiny surfaces to introduce unexpected texture combinations.  An interesting composition can be achieved as well by using varying heights of objects and utilizing all the flat space. 
For instance, an open bookshelf I styled below.  The plant adds some color and visual space, the varying finishes in frames and candles add some texture, lamp for soft lighting, and varying heights of objects are used to create this vignette.

 Embellished Home

Books are a good example of how to create height.  When laid on their side they create a pedestal of sorts to elevate objects. I love big coffee table books (Art, Architecture, Photography, Design and Travel) or vintage books like the ones below.

 via The Drifter and the Gypsy

Coffee table books can be pricey so check out Resale shops or Book store clearance tables for some great finds. Here's a great look using a few stacks of coffee table books.

via Pinterest

Using tall pottery pieces or candle sticks coupled with smaller frames and small decorative objects like a glass globe, create a high to low composition.  This type of arrangement will allow the eye to move from one item to the next.  Your approach to layering should create visual interest and pull your vignette together.  This is a good example of composition using various textures and heights.

via Pinterest

Here's a simple entry using a few shiny objects mixed with natural elements.

via House Beautiful

Color - Use color to coordinate your vignette with your overall space.  Do you have turquoise as an accent color in your room?  Bring in a piece of turquoise pottery for your vignette to tie it to the rest of the room.
 via Affordable Luxury

Is your home decorated in a Tuscan style?  Incorporate the warm tones of this style within your vignette.  Do you have a modern look? Maybe high contrasting colors like black and white with a silver frame will fit well in your vignette.  More of a contemporary home - insert pops of color and patterned pieces to create an eclectic mix.

Check out the pops of red on this table.

 via Houzz

Color helps to bring your room together in a cohesive way.

Here are a few more inspirational photos get you thinking and creating! 

via Google

via Atmosphere

via Emily Clark

Take a look around your home ...what can you utilize to create an interesting and unique vignette that punctuates your personal style?  Change your accessories up as your style and interests change or if you just want a new look.  

Think you still might need some help with styling areas in your home?  Email me at to find out more about our services, now including e-services for those outside the DFW area.

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