Creating Vignettes 101
What are you loving right now? Farmhouse, modern, boho, country, or a combination of styles? While everyone has a different style, we all find basic elements of design pleasing to the eye. These elements are the key to making any style look good in your home or shop. Scrolling through Instagram and someone’s picture stops you and makes you double tap? You might not know why those photos catch your eye, but I’m betting you’ll find the following elements in their photograph. Let me help you create that eye appeal in your vignettes.
The elements that are key to creating eye pleasing designs often overlap. One key element is repetition. You want repetition in texture, color, and\or pattern. Repetition ties everything together, creating a cohesive look. While textures should be repeating, they also need to be different, or varied, in your vignette. For example, having multiple baskets in a cabinet repeats the texture, but the entire cabinet should not be just baskets, you want to vary the textures by adding in one or two other elements...something smooth like glass or ironstone, or something soft with fabrics and books, or both. So, while repetition is key, you also must vary the texture.
Repetition is achieved with pops of turquoise, wood tones and fall foliage. Texture is varied with the smooth painted surfaces and the rough fall foliage.
This is also true with colors. Maybe you have open shelving that you are decorating with neutral colors. You don’t want to have a space that is all white...white wall, white shelf, white things on the shelf, etc. The variation could come with the wall color, exposed wood shelves, with non-white shelf brackets and then use all white items on that shelf. Or vary an all white shelf with baskets, frames, books, glass, greenery to change up all of the white.
Here we started by repeating silver pieces, but broke up the color and texture by adding greenery and green frames.
So while repetition is very important to tie things together the variation of these items also creates interest to your vignette. Heights and shapes of items are key to an eye pleasing vignette. Items should be different heights. An easy way to do this is by stacking books, putting things on top of wood boxes and crates, and simply stacking items. In a kitchen vignette, you might stack bowls to create height, or place items on a kitchen scale. Use cutting boards or trays behind items to create visual height. Varying the shape is also important when you create a vignette. You don’t want all of your items to be the same shape. Change it up by adding a pitcher or vase to a grouping of square items, or add some books to vary a grouping with a bunch of round items.
Here we have stacked objects to give varying heights. Our shapes are also varying, but repeated in a pattern.
There should be a pattern to your repetition. If you are decorating a bookcase, you don’t want all black items to be on the right side of each shelf. You want to create a pattern with those black items. Maybe each shelf you switch sides...right side, middle, left side and repeat that pattern as you work your way down the bookcase. Or put your black items on the right side for two shelves, then the left side for two shelves.
In this photo black items are placed on the opposite side of each shelf. Glass and galvanized are also repeated on each shelf. The wreath and bingo cards soften the smooth texture of the glass and galvanized items.
In this shop display you can see repetition in the black, galvanized, greenery and wood items. Textures are varied, but repeating with galvanized, wood, and the softer textures of the suitcases and shirt. Each space includes varied heights and shapes too.
A key concept to include with all of these elements is to use odd numbers in your vignettes. This doesn’t always mean only three items. Odd numbers can also be in groupings. For example four bowls stacked counts as one item, not four. A picture sitting on a stack of books might act as one item or two items depending on what it is paired with. These odd numbered groupings can be placed multiple times on the same surface...maybe on one end of a dresser you have an odd grouping and on the other side of the dresser you have a single item. You could look at this like, the one item, the group of three on the other end, and the dresser the items are sitting on, make a larger odd grouping.
This space is above my refrigerator. In the first picture I use repetition and odd numbers. In the second picture I have added some height and another piece of repetition with the wood egg box to tie in the wood of the handles. I also grouped together two items on each side of the fridge. On the third picture I have added more repetition by bringing in the box and that box also gives varied height. Counting each item individually I get an odd grouping, but I visually see the meat grinders and box as one item, the glass jar as another, and the egg box as a third.
This washstand is in my shop, so it is probably staged fuller than you would stage your home, but here we can see a lot of groups of three. On the right you have a newel post paired with two smaller canisters. Next you have the stool with the cloche, the box sitting vertical, and the stacked cup holders that look like crowns to make another grouping of three. Then on the book you have stands stacked for item #1, the vase #2, and the lid/greenery bundled together for item #3. And I could point out many other groupings on this surface. Other things that make this vignette work are the repetition in colors and shapes, variation of colors and heights and variation of textures and colors.
The same concepts I use in my shop work in your home too!
This is in my dining room...repetition in the colors...white, woods, greenery and gold. Variations are found in the colors... white, green, wood, gold. As well as variations in the height and odd numbered items.
Now when you scroll on Insta and stop because a picture catches your eye...see if you can find these elements of design in their photos...repetition, pattern, texture, color, varied heights. Take those elements and incorporate them into your own home, one vignette at a time!
If you’d like to learn more about staging for a retail space, come join my Facebook group, Staging Your Antique Shop with The Junk Parlor.