Design Tips | Learn How To

Small Moments – The Art of Creating Vignettes

Design Tips | Learn How To

One of my favorite things to design is a vignette because they reflect the homeowner’s personality and add the finishing touch to a space.  In theater, a vignette is a short scene that gives insight into a character or setting.  In decorating terms, a vignette is basically the same:

A small grouping of objects that create their own scene within a room that helps to set the mood

 

Imagine zooming in with a camera to take a picture of just a nightstand, or a few shelves on a bookcase, or even a portion of a sofa table, and being able to see a complete design within the view finder that give you a clue as to what the larger picture looks like.

How to Create a Vignette

As with other decorating elements, a vignette is a full-scale design in a small scale space, so here are some tips to get you started.

 

1.  Find the Right Place

Vignettes are beautiful when created on flat surfaces such as nightstands, dressers, vanities or console tables, but they are equally as captivating when created in corners or other empty spaces.  Instead of placing a single chair in a corner, turn it into a cozy reading vignette.  Similarly, a single cabinet along a wall feels much more at home if it has other items grouped above it and below it.  Try to find a place to create at least one small moment in each room of your home.

My sofa table has a few different vignettes on it:

Spring vignette with purple flowers, ironstone and feathers

 

2.  Consider Your Style

The items you choose should not only reflect your personality, but also your decorating style.  Make sure that the colors you choose for your vignette work within your larger scheme as well.  Also take into account the formality of your space.  Use a symmetrical grouping for a formal space and an asymmetrical grouping for a more casual look.

If you have a collection, a vignette is a great way to display it!  Just remember that if you are grouping like objects together, always group them in odd numbers – three or five – for greater impact.  For more information about displaying collections, check out my post Beautiful Ways to Display & Organize Collections.

Fall farmhouse kitchen vignette

Vignette with scissor collection in mason jar and globe. #vignette

 

 

3.  Start with Your Anchor Object

Include an anchor object in your vignette using an object that has the most visual weight.  Visual weight refers not to the actual weight of an object, but to its visual presence determined by the object’s size, material and/or color.  The anchor object will then act as the anchor to your grouping, so ensure that it reflects your style.  Unlike designing a mantel, though, the anchor doesn’t need to be significantly larger than the other items, as it’s just a starting point and you don’t necessarily want any one object to dominate in a vignette.

 

4. Create Layers & Depth

Building out from your focal point, create layers of other, small objects.  Start from the back and work forward, staggering your pieces so that you create a sense of depth in your vignette, giving it more interest than it would otherwise have if all of the objects were arranged in a straight line. Also be sure that you vary the height of the pieces.

Vignette of vase with a candle, book, and dish.

 

 

5. Add Something Soft & Organic

To keep the vignette feeling natural and less “manufactured,” add at least one organic item to the grouping.  This could be a light source (candle or lamp), flowers (live, dried, or faux), a topiary or even some ribbon.

Fall farmhouse kitchen decor

 

6.  Consider the Use of Textures

You can create a great deal of visual interest if you vary the textures of your objects.  For example, a silver pitcher on a burlap runner or a bouquet of roses in a weathered vase.  Mix hard with soft and shiny with dull.

Vignette of maidenhair fern in sugar bowl with books

Free fall printabble with styled bookshelf

 

(Caveat:  If your style is modern, you should skip Tip #6 and instead, opt for a more monochromatic look using either a single color or a single texture.  You can use a single color but multiple textures, or multiple colors all with the same texture, but to keep the look simple, I would recommend you do one or the other, but not both.)

 

Vignettes are small moments that set the scene or create a mood within a larger space.  A great way to see if your vignette works is to take a picture of it, then evaluate your picture to see if it feels right and looks complete to you – does it give you the look you were going for?  And since vignettes are small and easy to change, there’s virtually no risk, so take a chance and try something new!

For more of my favorite vignettes, check out my Pinterest page!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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17 Comments

  1. It would seem a lot has changed since this post was created. All we hear now is to get rid of clutter, less is more and on and on. While I enjoy putting vignettes together in my home I’m increasingly aware that this is no longer in style and find that the advice given now in most posts is the polar opposite of putting together these types of displays.

    1. Tidbits&Twine says:

      Hi Margo! I always encourage my readers to create a home that they love – one that looks and feels like them. If someone loves creating vignette stories in their home, I think they should do it, regardless of what is or isn’t trendy! One could of course create fewer vignettes or use small items if they want to create them but are concerned with what is currently in style, but regardless, I think our homes should be a reflection of those that live there and the things they love.

      :) Kim

  2. Nancy lipe says:

    The one maybe the 8th or 9th down, u hang coffee cups upside down on something metal. What is that?

  3. I think, for me, a beautiful vignette is the most alluring part of a room. Thanks for the tips, and ideas you’ve shown.
    Karen

  4. Kim, I just found one of your posts on Pinterest. ‘Vignette’ is the way I already decorate, but you’re the first person I’ve found who actually writes about it! I’m so happy to find you & your website, as well as Pinterest! Your tips are helpful. You put into words and suggestions things I’ve struggled with. Hurray! I can’t wait to see and read more! Thank you so much!

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