7 tips for creating a decorative vignette

7 tips for creating a decorative vignette

Whether you want to create a decorative vignette on a fireplace mantel, coffee table, dining table, kitchen island or bookcase, the decorating principles are the same. In fact, any flat surface will do. Below are seven ideas for an easy and successful vignette in your home.

1. Use the things you love 

Take a stroll around your home and gather up some items you already have on hand that are meaningful to you and that you would enjoy seeing every day. If some of these things have a commonality, all the better. 

For example, you might gather up some large seashells you found on a vacation, along with a decorative box with a shell motif, a framed photo of a sunset you love, a few books about the ocean and some pretty blue candlesticks. You now have the elements to get your vignette started!

2. Use odd-numbers 

Generally speaking, vignettes with odd numbered-items are more pleasing to the eye in that they suggest a more loose, casual, spontaneous display. This is not to say that sometimes even numbers can’t work, particularly if you want a more symmetrical and often more formal approach. 

3. Vary the height of your items 

Selecting items that vary in height from one another will create a more interesting vignette. The eye enjoys travelling up and down when it takes in your decorative items.

4. Vary the depth of your items 

For example, on a fireplace mantel, zig-zag your items from front to back a bit. It is not nearly as pleasing or interesting for your collection of mercury glass vases to be lined up in a single row like toy soldiers.

5. Add an unexpected texture 

In the “sea-themed” scenario described above, consider adding a rough piece of roping in the mix to contrast with the smooth textures of the other items. Perhaps coil up a small piece around the base of the candlesticks. Similarly, if your vignette has items with a lot of hard or boxy edges, a small plant (real or faux) can add a nice quality of softness. 

6. Mimic shapes 

This is a great trick when the opportunity arises. For example, if you are building your vignette on a round table, look for round items to mimic the shape of the table, such as a round bowl or a table lamp with a round base and shade.

7. Leave space for the eye to rest 

Don’t make the mistake of having too many items in your vignette. The eye needs an occasional place to rest before it takes in the next item. Have you ever been in a home where a china or curio cabinet is so packed full of things that you really can’t see or appreciate the things inside? The same thing can happen to a vignette. If you begin to get a sense that it is becoming too crowded, it probably is. 

Play around with it. It may take a few tries to get it right. This is true even for the interior design professionals. Once you are pleased with your creation, then you are finished. After all, it is your home.

About this Angie’s List Expert: Beth Batke is the owner of Final Touches Redesign, a Columbus, Ohio-based interior design and decorating company. The firm earned the Angie’s List Super Service Awards in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, and was highlighted as an Angie’s List Magazine Best Contractor in 2011.

As of August 15, 2013, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.