Month: May 2013

Decorating with Classic Silhouettes

If you’re like me, you’ve been tempted into having a silhouette made when visiting Disneyland.  There is something so charming about popping into the little store on Main Street and watching an artist quickly and perfectly clip out my kids’ silhouettes. I would get them framed, proudly bring them home, and then….nothing.  It took me the longest time to get around to displaying them because they can be tricky to incorporate into the decor without having them seem out-of-place!

Decorating with Silhouettes - Tidbits&Twine
Silhouette vignette with a vintage shoe form and my grandfather’s books. And of course, the pictures are leaning!


So how can you display your silhouettes so that they fit with the surrounding decor?


The great thing about the classic black and white silhouettes is that they are striking given their contrasting colors and simplistic design.  Their versatility also allows them to work well in many different design styles, from traditional, to modern to shabby chic.  The tricky part is that since they are so eye catching, they tend to steal the show (the decor show, that is), and unless that’s your intention, you’ll need to do a bit of work to incorporate them as part of an overall design.

If you want your silhouette to be the focal point, then the design is much easier since they tend to stand out on their own.

Silhouette Focal  Point


If, on the other hand, you want your silhouettes to work as just a part of a design, you’ll need do some planning.

Tips & Tidbits for Decorating with Classic Silhouettes

1. If you have just a small sliver of wall, silhouettes used on their own make a big impact in a little space.

by The Old Painted Cottage
by The Old Painted Cottage


2. If you have more than one silhouette, always group them together for greater impact.

Silhouette Grouping - Ballard Designs
by Ballard Designs


3. When using silhouettes as part of a wall gallery, either use ALL silhouettes…


…OR ensure that the other pictures also incorporate black as part of their coloring so that the silhouettes blend with the other pictures in the grouping.

Silhouette Wall Art
In this photo, notice how the silhouette on the right is balanced by the black frame on the left.


4.  Avoid using silhouettes to flank a large focal point, as the two will compete with one another.


5. Silhouettes are beautiful when used as part of a vignette, but again, be sure to incorporate the color black somewhere else in the vignette so that the silhouettes are a cohesive part of the grouping.

Notice the black console and addition of black covered books to help the silhouettes blend with their surroundings. By Mustard Seed Interiors


6. You can always make your own silhouette if you don’t already have one.  Here’s a great tutorial on from Mustard Seed Interiors:  How to Make a Framed Child’s Silhouette.


7. If you’re not up to making your own, another alternative is to have one made for you.  Check out these beautiful hand painted custom silhouettes from Made for Jake on Etsy!

Hand painted silhouette by Made for Jake
Hand painted silhouette by Made for Jake




Silhouette Trivia

I recently learned an interesting bit of history about silhouettes.  The great expense of having a full color likeness commissioned typically restricted the availability to the wealthy and kept the ordinary person for having a likeness of their loved ones made; therefore, these shade portraits became popular with the masses as a cheaper alternative to full color portraits.  In England, they were referred to as “Profile Shades” or “Shadows” but French coined the term à la Silhouette as a derogatory reference to Louis XV’s former French Minister of Finance, Etienne de Silhouette, who was considered a cheapskate.

You can read more about the history of silhouettes at Silhouettes by Cindi.


Although classic silhouettes are black and white, remember that there are no rules!  Create silhouettes in any color to match your decor for a more modern take on this classic design.  And don’t forget that handprints make great keepsake silhouettes, too!







DIY Vintage Urn

At long last I have finally finished painting my urns!  I purchased two raw cement urns from HomeGoods for $19.99 so that I could bring them with me to my chalk painting class with CeCe Caldwell.  The urns are about 15.5″ tall and have a very simple design, but I liked the shape and thought I could easily incorporate them into my home.  Plus, urns are one of many of my favorite things, so I can never have too many!

Unfinished Urn from HomeGoods - Tidbits&Twine
Before – Unfinished light gray cement urn that was $19.99 at HomeGoods

The class held at Paris Flea Market was so much fun and I learned so many little tricks (Tidbit – Did you know that CeCe herself uses brown paper bags to buff pieces since it acts like a super fine grit sandpaper?!).  After learning how to mix custom colors as well as learning how to lighten existing colors, we moved on to glazing.  I was hooked!  I love how easily glazing can give a piece a vintage look, plus allows you to add a different color for extra dimension.  During class, I only had time to paint them with one coat of Vermont Slate and no time for glazing, so I was left to finish that on my own at home.

For this project, I used:

  • Vermont Slate
  • Vintage White
  • Clear Wax
  • Clear Glaze
  • Purdy brush
  • Wax brush
  • 100% cotton, lint-free rag
CeCe Caldwell's Paints for Vintage Urn Project - Tidbits&Twine - Copy
CeCe Caldwell’s Paints – All Natural

Unfortunately, after my second coat of Vermont Slate, I accidentally bumped into one and broke it!  My heart sank.

Broken Urn - Tidbits&Twine - Copy
Sad day! But I ended up using the broken pieces to test out different glazing techniques


Luckily, while browsing the isles at HomeGoods on Mother’s Day, I came across one more urn!  Once again I have a matching pair!

I first tried dry brushing the Vermont Slate with Antique White and then doing a Kansas City Wheat glaze over the top, but the dry brushed areas didn’t look “natural” to me (or maybe I just had poor technique).  At any rate, I ended up repainting them with another coat of Vermont Slate and this time, I glazed them with Vintage White.  For the glaze, I mixed approximately 1/2 cup of glaze with 2 teaspoons of Vintage White and 1 teaspoon of water.  I also wet my paint brush prior to applying the glaze.

DIY Vintage Urn - Tidbits&Twine
After – A more dramatic and aged appearance

For now, I’m using my urns for to flank my fireplace with hydrangeas, but there are so many uses for urns that I’m sure I’ll end up doing something else with them at some point.  I love that they can be used to hold magazines and books…

Vintage Urn with Books Vintage Urn with Magazines


or cut flowers…

Vintage Urn with Cut Flower Bouquet

or even a simple moss arrangement

Vintage Urn with Moss






Tidbit Tuesday – How to Train Your Draperies






I received my new draperies from Half Price Drapes a couple of weeks ago but didn’t get around to training them until just the other day.

Curtains Before Training
Before training (and before pressing)



Curtains Loosely Tied with Twine to Train
Loosely tied with twine to train (but still not pressed!)

From Half Price Drapes: After being hung, draperies need to be “trained” so their pleats and folds hang evenly. Train the folds in your draperies by stacking them open and arranging the folds evenly from top to bottom. Pull pleat folds forward and push back the folds in between. Loosely tie strips of fabric around the tied draperies for at least three days. When the ties are removed, the folds will be set.

How to Train Curtains