This word (Vignettes)gets tossed about regularly in blog land and I happened to use it last week while discussing a room with a client She had not heard the term before and it occurred to me that perhaps there were other people who also had not heard of this term.
Essentially, vignette is a decorating term used to describe a grouping of items which appear on a table top, a coffe table, an ottoman or even shelves. Vignette comes from the French word “vigne”which means : the use of vine tendrils in decorative design. It also loosely means an unbordered picture or a short scene…all of which apply in decoration really.
For most decorators, it basically means : to create a little display or image by grouping interesting items together on a surface of some kind. As more and more people are becoming exposed to all styles of decoration via blogs and images on the internet, homes are becoming more “decorated”and by that I mean finished in a more professional way. I think people are inspired by what they see on the internet and they are prepared to try new things in their own homes. While a lot of times this works well , I do believe that one either has an eye for balance and proportion or one does not. Perhaps it can be learned, but I think it is mostly instinctual…knowing what works and what doesn’t and how to fix it, if it appears to be wrong. I also firmly believe that a home is never “done”and that it should grow and change organically as the person who lives there changes and matures.
I find a home which never changes to be very boring and uninspiring….I used to put together window displays for a beautiful interior store in Dubai (sadly the recession put the owner out of business) and I regularly used to be just putting the finishing touches on a window ,when a customer would come into the store and buy the entire window…from the vases of flowers right down to the linen or cushions on a bed! One customer even took a photo of the window as it was ,and insisted that our delivery staff from the store install it in her home exactly as I had done it in the window! I was always amazed that these customers were unable to play around and experiment with their furniture and decor at home, but it made me realise that not all people have the “eye”.
With visual merchandising, one has to tell a story with a vignette which will draw the customer in, and at the same time show them how to use the items on sale. At the time, I knew what I was doing by grouping objects to create a pleasing display…I just didn’t know that it was called a vignette!In your own home, the idea of a vignette is to do the same thing….draw the visitor in to a focal point in a room.
The best vignettes are personal and tell a story about the person (or people) who live in the house…they have a good balance of high and low pieces and of course colour and texture.
This image above is a great example…it is very symmetrical and balanced in terms of the colour. It also tells the viewer that the occupants of this home are clearly well traveled, or at the very least interested in different cultures.
This image has a slightly ethereal quality to it, particularly the butterflies..I find myself wanting to look closer at all the objects under the glass cloches.
A good rule of thumb is also to use groups of three and five…and vary the heights of objects. Then stand back and look…if you feel something is too low, use a stack of books to lift the object up and create interest.
While this vignette above looks quite chaotic and busy, it has been carefully curated with antique perfume bottles, silver cigarette cases, antique silver frames and some beautifully coloured ceramics.
The most important thing to remember is to make a vignette yours…with personal items that work well together but mean something to you . The beauty of a vignette is that everyone is unique and different depending on who is putting it together, so there is really no right or wrong as long as the scale and balance is right.