The ABC’s of Vignettes

A vignette is when are items grouped together in a visually pleasing way. They are most often created to adorn nightstands, console tables, buffets, coffee tables and counter tops and highlight our favorite accessories or keepsakes. Some vignettes are functional, others have a theme and some may be just a random grouping to accessorize an otherwise bare surface. Whatever the case may be, in order to achieve an aesthetically pleasing vignette there are certain  rules to follow. Iv’e broken them down into the A,B,C’s. Follow these simple rules and you too can have that designer, model look to your home!


A is for…..


Groupings should always be asymmetric. That is how you get that designer look. In my humble opinion, symmetrical groupings are boring and show no imagination or playfulness. Now, i understand, this may be difficult for the “neat freak” who likes order. I do think symmetry can create a beautiful look when used in certain settings; such as a console table being flanked by two buffet lamps. Symmetrical settings can provide a more formal look if that’s what you’re going for and is often preferred in formal rooms like the dining or living room.

Back to Asymmetry though, Ironically, when items are grouped, they are highlighted more than if they were all alone. Their texture, shape and color are closely contrasted by it’s group of “friends”.



Vignettes should always have an anchor. The anchor of your group is not necessarily the heaviest or largest, it can be the most important piece to you. The piece you want the primary focus to be on. Usually all vignettes start with one piece that you really want to display but don’t want it to be alone. Give it “friends” that will compliment it rather than detract attention. The anchor also doesn’t have to be a single object. It can be a small grouping of similar things that grab your attention. Such as a cluster of vases with vivid flowers.

Another use for an anchor would be a tray. A tray acts a an anchor to the grouping of items. This keeps them confined and allows you to easily cluster them. (See “C” for Cluster)


B is for…..


It is important also to create balance for your vignette. If you have a solid grouping of objects at one end of a console, you may want to balance it by placing a large floral arrangement on the other side, to another small, less visual grouping such as a cluster of clear vases. A large mirror or picture frames can also provide balance behind your vignette. When you balance out your vignette, it doesn’t have such a “weighty” visual appearance.



The background to your vignette is important as well. . Again, you want to make sure it compliments and frames the vignette rather than detracting and competing with it. A busy wallpaper can easily compete with your items and not give them the attention they deserve. Think of a beautiful necklace worn against a stark black dress. The necklace would pop and become the focus of your outfit. Now if that same necklace was worn against a patterned dress it would not be as visually compelling. Same goes for your vignette. Keep the background simple and complementary such as a mirror or two monochromatic paintings.


 C is for…..


Don’t be afraid to play with contrasts. You can achieve visual contrast through color, size, shape, textures and subject matter. A small floral arrangement contrasted against a worn leather book and a bright lacquer box is a great example of this. The lacquer box is your “anchor” and its grouped “friends” provide just enough interest using textural contrast.




When grouping your items, make sure they are close to each other. Think cozy! Items spread out from one another lose their impact and detract from each other. Here’s a tip- cluster items up by visualizing the letter “A”. Have a central tall item or a propped item in the middle. Place your smaller items toward the outside. This structure will always ensure a balanced and visually appealing vignette.


Here are examples of other successful vignettes. See if you can spot the A,B,C’s…











common grouping, lamp, flowers and books








One thought on “The ABC’s of Vignettes

  1. Mona says:

    I love this very comprehensive, lovely guide to vignettes! I’m glad you’ve given these helpful tips and guides to this topic that isn’t widely written about. Once again, your examples are so beautiful! Now I have your guide to follow for some areas in my own home that can use a few vignettes. I’m truly inspired!

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