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  • by Desiree Mastracchio, DMDesign

How to Create a Vignette


Staging is all about conveying a lifestyle, and vignettes are an effective way to accomplish this. Vignettes are a group of functional and decorative items artfully arranged to reflect a mood, tell a story, or create a focal point. They soften hardscapes like tables, mantels and countertops by adding whimsy and style. They add personality and speak to lifestyle. Even more importantly - they draw buyers in for an emotional connection with the home.

5 Steps to Creating a Vignette:

1.) First, choose your anchor piece - the one key item around which you will build your vignette. It should be large or weighty enough to stand alone, but lend itself to becoming part of a group. When selecting this primary design element, consider the room in which the vignette will reside and go from there. For example, when decorating a fireplace mantel, you might start with a piece of artwork or some tall candlesticks. In a kitchen, perhaps a bowl of fruit or ceramic canisters. A white orchid or a large glass container of pretty soaps would be a good starting point In a bathroom.

Start with an anchor piece.

2.) Next, begin building on your vignette by adding smaller items to your anchor piece. Choose from both functional and decorative items from each space. In the kitchen, use a rustic wood cutting board, a marble cheese tray or colorful bottles of oil and vinegar. In a living room, add some books, flowers, and some textured decorative balls. In a dining room, you might add a stack of beautiful plates and cloth napkins to a tall buffet lamp or candles.

Add smaller items that are different in shape or texture but complement the anchor.

3) All your secondary elements should be no more than half the size of your anchor piece. Find items that are different in shape, size or texture, but similar in color or theme. Follow the basic design "Rule of Threes" (or fives) as asymmetry and odd numbers are more visually pleasing.

4) Now comes the fun part - arranging everything into a cohesive group. Place your items in a pyramid shape with the anchor in the middle or just off center, and smaller items around it. Layer your items, allowing them to overlap to create depth, visual interest and artistry from all angles. Use an asymmetrical but balanced approach to give your vignette an effortless, unstudied look.

Arrange the items in a triangle.

Over time, keep your vignette fresh by fresh by allowing it to evolve. Make a stronger statement by adding a new, larger anchor piece (like the mirror behind the arrangement below.) Add seasonal elements like a bowl of nuts or a large pine cone in the fall; some glass Christmas ornaments for the holidays. Or streamline your arrangement by removing all but 3 key elements for a simple, sophisticated and elegant look.

Add to your vignette for a bolder statement.

5.) When staging your home to sell, keep your audience in mind as you create vignettes for visual interest. If you are selling a large family home in a great school district, use family-friendly items like antique toys or classic hard cover books. If you live in a sleek Buckhead high-rise, perhaps choose martini glasses and and an ice bucket with coffee table books on wine or art. If you want the master bathroom to convey a spa feel, use candles, bath salts and maybe a bottle of wine. Remember that the items you display in your home will speak to buyers -- make sure those subtle whispers leave the buyers wanting more!


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