Decorating In Vignettes


My home reflects the life I live here with my family. We have an eclectic mix of things and I switch things around whenever I feel like it (which, according to my children, is all the time). I love living with things which speak to me and make me happy whenever I look at them – handmade children’s artwork, found items, candles, sticks, books, beautiful fabrics, rocks and always a few sparkly things which I keep just because they tickle my fancy!

To prevent my small house from looking cluttered, I decorate in “vignettes” – small displays which are appealing and visually balanced. Vignettes give focus to a room and your eye a place to rest.


The vignette above works for me in the following ways:

Mix of old and new items:

Rocks, pottery pot for the plant, wooden plank mirror, and handmade clay box vs.

crystal sphere lamp, crystal bowl, green plant, and shiny wooden hand

Contrasting textures:

Smooth, clear, shiny crystal vs. rough, thick, handmade, clay and pottery

Shiny, reflective mirror vs. rough wooden plank frame.

Heavy rocks vs. smooth, delicate glass bowl.

Balanced visual weight:

Heavy books underneath light crystal bowl holding heavy rocks.

Light crystal lamp next to heavy pottery pot.

Lamp, plant, hand and handmade clay pot across from stack of books, crystal bowl, rocks and artwork.

Large, heavy wooden plank mirror behind large but light crystal lamps.

Shorter, thicker plant in between tall lamp and tall wooden hand.

White lamp shade across from white mat in wall artwork.

Balanced heights:

Asymmetrical balance of tall, columnar lamp across from bowl propped up on stack of thick books.

Mini-vignette made with asymmetrical combination of thin, tall wooden hand, short, squat handmade clay pot, and medium size plant.

Height of lamp balances height of artwork on wall.

The same objects in a different configuration just don’t feel as settled to me.


And this is just not very interesting…


Decorating really comes down to what feels good to you. Looking at your possessions should bring joy to your heart – not make you tired. Following William Morris’ advice to “live with nothing you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful,” is a great way to make sure your possessions do not weigh you down or make you feel out of balance. I am continually looking through my things and passing them on when they no longer serve me.  It seems to me that balance is the key to so many things in life – why not make sure what you look at in your home makes you feel balanced and happy!?

Do you think about this when you decorate or does it come naturally to you?

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  1. Balance is always good! I love the vignettes – I like to call the “stories” but they’re the same thing :)

    1. annie kip says:

      Yes, this is the same thing as a “story.” I know you get it and it comes to you so easily – must be that Ralph training! Who knew it would be so helpful!?

  2. These are great tips! And I love your non-examples to show how much nicer it looks to follow your principles. This is something I definitely have to think about when arranging things in our home. I’m not a natural. Glad it’s something that can be learned. :-)

    1. annie kip says:

      Thanks, Rita! Your house looks great! You are better at this than you think!!!

  3. Deb says:

    I see the Birthday Book!

    1. annie kip says:

      YES!!! I love the Birthday Book!!! You are the source of so many good things, Deb!!!!

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