How to Create Vignettes in Decorating

by Beth HunterSeptember 5, 2012

When you hear the word “vignette” you might think of a short literary sketch, or perhaps a technique you apply to photos. In decorating, a vignette is a small grouping of objects that creates a pleasing focal point. I love vignettes because they are an affordable way to bring charm, character, and life to any space. Today I’m going to teach you some simple tips and tricks that you can apply today to help create gorgeous vignettes throughout your home’s interior. Let’s get started!

Choose Your Space

You first need to decide where you want to create a vignette. End tables, nightstands, entry tables, and mantels are good places for beginners. Edit the items that are already occupying this space and decide which elements you want to stay. For example, if you are decorating your nightstand perhaps you have decided that your lamp and alarm clock must stay but the rest is negotiable. Tip: If it isn’t permanently fixed to the wall then it can be moved to a different location of the house. I am constantly changing around the lamps, mirrors, pictures, and accessories in my own home. Don’t be afraid to experiment with what you have!

How to Create Vignettes in Decoratingsource

Gather Accessories & Pick an Anchor Object

Now it is time to shop your home for objects which might work in your space. You want to keep the color palette simple, using only two or three varying colors. A simple color palette will help you achieve a more cohesive end result. Use color cues from the room to decide which colors to incorporate, or for an element of whimsy add a pop of unexpected color in your vignette. Good items to gather include: books, candlesticks, vases, mirrors, picture frames, and fresh flowers or greenery. Once your accessories are gathered, it is time to choose an anchor piece. This might be a lamp, art work, mirror, etc. which will “ground” the entire vignette and set the tone for your focal point. In the picture below, the sunburst mirror is the anchor object.


Work from Back to Front & Group in Odds

Once your anchor object is in place, position your second tallest accessory on your tabletop, often this will be a lamp or pair of lamps. Now begin layering your other accessories from back to front keeping your smallest objects until last. For maximum impact, try grouping your objects in odd numbers. Objects grouped in three or five tend to be more visually pleasing than pairs of objects, but experiment and see what looks right to you. In the picture below, the pair of vintage bowling pins visually balance the lamp and look beautiful as a pair. However, notice how the stack of books are placed in front of the pins to create a grouping of three.

vignette tipssource

Admire and Edit

Whenever I am creating a vignette, I frequently take moments to stop, stand back, and edit my work. I might shift a candlestick over, change out a picture frame, or omit a vase. Be sure to stand back often to see which elements you like and which need tweaking. Most importantly enjoy the process! Vignettes aren’t meant to be permanent fixtures in your home so free yourself from feeling like you need to “get it right”. When you tire of a vignette, simply switch up your accessories and create a new focal point. I change my mantel and other vignettes in my home at least six times a year. Don’t allow your vignettes to get stale. Keep them fresh and have fun exploring your inner-designer!


Have you designed a vignette in your home? We’d love to see it! Feel free to add a link to your beautiful design in the comments section. For additional home decor tips, be sure to visit the Decorating section of our blog.

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About The Author
Beth Hunter