It might seem silly to devote an entire post to tabletop vignettes — those stylish arrangements of art and items on credenzas, shelves, tables and more — but it's actually not. Because vignettes can play a surprisingly important role in a room. A good vignette will support a room's tone, as well as make a space seem beautifully styled, sophisticated and full. So what do all great vignettes have in common? We've got a few ideas for you to consider.
1. Find a good spot
Seems obvious, yet sometimes I spot a great vignette in a corner of a room that no one can see, almost wasted. Pick a spot with visibility, on a surface of a furniture piece you love and want to enhance. And not every surface in your space needs a carefully crafted vignette, either. In fact you definitely don't want every surface to; your room could get too cluttered that way. Find a spot that won't be a focal point in the room but will complement the rest of the room's style.
2. Feature items of multiple heights and layers
Unless you want to look like a store, don't use only things of a uniform height and line them up in a row. Common objects that go in vignettes like books, lamps, art, candles and collectibles should be at different heights, and you want to layer the way your arrange them; don't be afraid to let your vignette spread out in all directions.
3. Add something alive (not necessary but nice)
You don't have to add a plant to every tabletop vignette, but you certainly add some zest when you do. Regarding the above suggestion to add varying heights and layers, leafy plants are great for that. But you don't have to go big; a small succulent, an air plant or even a dried arrangement can add life to a vignette.
4. Add a light source (not necessary but nice)
Another lovely option for a vignette is a light source like a lamp or candle. But feel free to get creative and use a string of lights if you'd like. Adding a light source can help warm up a vignette as well as call attention to it in a dark room.
5. Fill it with meaningful stuff you love
You know how you can sometimes tell when someone's just thrown any art up on a wall? You can get the same feeling from a tabletop arrangement. The best vignettes grow with time as you add on little things you find and stumble across. They also avoid being too matchy-matchy that way, too. For an authentic room, fill your vignettes with things you love.
6. Don't let them get too cluttered or too sparse
You don't want a vignette that's too cluttered and you don't want a vignette that's too empty. The trick of course, is tailoring that advice to your tastes. If you desire a bohemian look with lots of energy, you might let your vignette have a handful (or two) of objects. But if you have a minimal and modern design, even three objects in a vignette could seem to cluttered.
Similarly, you want to pay attention to the spacing of your items when you arrange your vignette. Items spaced too far apart might just seem like you didn't clear your tabletop off properly, whereas too close together could come off really busy. Feel out your sweet spot.
After gathering your favorite items, arranging them at different heights and layers, adding in something alive or something lighted and making sure it's filled with stuff you love, take a step back. Maybe even take a few photos of it and study those. What can you take out? What's not adding to the vignette's feel and look?
8. Frequently dust
This one doesn't really need explaining but can't really be underscored enough. Don't let a fabulous vignette become a dust magnet. Find a dusting method and schedule that works for you and stick to it. Your sophisticated arrangements of collectibles (and your whole home) will shine.
9. Let them evolve over time
This is something I struggle with. Once I get something to "look' the way I want it, I tend to keep it that way until I move out. But not letting your vignettes evolve — change as you add new treasured finds and retire old or tired and trendy elements — will lead to a more stagnant than sophisticated space. Build a fabulous tabletop vignette you can't wait to show off, but then have the courage to tear it down every now and then to build it back up even better next time!
And of course, being more flexible and versatile with your vignettes is the much more affordable way of freshening up entire rooms whenever they feel stale, rather than buying new furniture or new textiles every time you get the itch to change the look of your space.
More vignette ideas and inspiration:
- How To: Create a Visual Vignette
- How to Create Sophisticated Vignettes
- Display Your Style: Creating the Perfect Vignette
What are your favorite vignette styling tips? How have your vignettes changed and evolved as you've lived in your home? What's your favorite vignette in your home?