Design Rules: Creating Beautiful Vignettes

Whether we admit it or not, most of us decorate our spaces.

Sure, there’s a group of hardcore enthusiasts who agonize over paint chips, scour the Internet for back issues of the late Domino Magazine (sniff) and fervently pray tassels never make a comeback (guilty!), but even teenage boys display their trophies and hang posters of their favorite sports teams (or Broadway shows) in their rooms.

Following a few simple rules will ensure your assemblage of tsotchkes (i.e. decorative vignette) isn’t mistaken for clutter.

Rule #1: Be authentic
Decorating doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition, and vignettes are a terrific example of that. Before shopping for trinkets, take stock of what you already have laying around the house. Childhood mementos, family photos and even grandma’s collection of porcelain dogs can be used to create striking decorative vignettes.

Rule #2: Three’s charming
If you’re having trouble getting started, grouping objects in threes is a simple trick to create eye-pleasing, asymmetrical groupings. Try staggering objects by height, which will help to distinguish each piece and avoid the appearance of clutter.

Rule #3: Group like objects together
Grouping like objects together on a shelf, table or mantel is a foolproof way to dramatize and spotlight a collection. Even commonplace and inexpensive items such as Pez dispensers look cool when displayed together. Note: when grouping like objects, disregard rule #2 (the more the merrier).

Rule #4: Play with color
Grouping objects by color is another surefire way to create interesting displays.  For example, while nothing could be simpler or lovelier than a shelf of time worn novels, wrapping them in colorful jackets (think hot pink) will create a funkier aesthetic. If the result feels overwhelming, incorporate framed photos, treasured objects and travel souvenirs.

Rule #5: Build a pyramid
While there’s nothing like a shelf full of books, there’s no need to consign them to vertical orientation. It doesn’t get much easier than piling hardback coffee table books pyramid-style. Add some bling by topping if off with a small vase, photo or objet d’art.

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