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January 17, 2018

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A Simple Guide to Creating Spectacular Table Vignettes

January 25, 2018

Oh how much I love vignettes! I have been enamored of them from the time when I didn't even know that they had a name; all I knew was that a pleasing scene composed of beautifully arranged pieces on a horizontal surface made me grin like a Cheshire cat (I look a little scary when I do that).


So if I were to give you a proper definition of a vignette, here's what it will be -


A picture-perfect coming together of disparate and delightful objects that amps up the appeal of a simple space and makes your heart sing in a ravishing soprano. Well, the last bit is obviously a superfluous explanation by me but that’s the kind of effect a well-styled table vignette has on me and I’m more than sure that it will also have your heart under its spell.


Whenever I think of table vignettes, a gorgeous image that I tumbled on the internet a few years ago, springs up. An elegant country oak commode (a chest of drawers) over which stood a picturesque grouping of a white and blue ceramic pots, an antique wooden lamp, a stack of books, a vase hosting gorgeous sunflowers with a delightfully garish Fauvist canvas hung on the wall.


Boy, I felt this uncontrollable urge to jump on the other side of the monitor and fondle each of those pretty pieces. That's the thing with table vignettes - with just a few decor items you can create a story steeped in a theme that you want to, just like the following ones I found on Pinterest -



So while I have spent a considerable chunk of my brief and fragile life just looking amorously at Pinterest boards, I thought I might as well get my arse in gear and put my zeal for creative adventurism to good use by trying my hand at creating quick and simple table vignettes. So here's what I did with all the pretty things that found in my showcase, which is a result of my late grandfather's worldly travels and kind of looks like a mise-en-scene straight out of a European drama.


I'd be lying if I said I just knew how to go about arranging all the items together; I was so excited with the whole idea of doing a photo shoot and setting up the table that in my exhilaration I took out everything from the showcase and spent a good 2 hours just marveling at the beauties that were hidden from my sight for so many years. I'm sure when you will embark on the vignette-making project, you will feel a little overwhelmed - whether you have a massive selection of objet d'arts, souvenirs, and decor pieces or possess just a handful of them. But the numero uno thing that you need to know about table vignettes is that it's not so much about how many number of fancy and expensive objects you own as it is about how you style them!


Keep it simple and sweet



Take this table vignette here, for example - all I did here was rummage our kitchen cabinet to find a circular tray, gather my favorite flowers (they are called velvet flowers), and of course take out my prized possession - tea lights! I put the flowers (they are placed in a mason jar) and the tea lights in the circular tray to give the elements a sense of structure. The beauty of this vignette is that it can double as an anchor of a bigger set up, meaning it can serve as a prime point of intrigue of a bigger vignette which could be composed of different objects like books, a vintage piece, vases of varying heights, small sculptures, photo frames, a quirky decor item, and what not. An anchor piece is that interesting something that your eyes will notice first before anything else. Here's another one I arranged -



If you have a big coffee table, you can place this petite setup in the middle and use the space on either side to place coffee mugs, magazines, fruit basket, et al.


Light it up


I have been meaning to use mason jars as flower vases because a) they look incontrovertibly adorable and b) they allow for light decoration


I illuminated those mason jars with string lights and filled them up with velvet flowers and greenery and placed them alongside this gorgeous avian artwork (a gift from my grandfather's generous friend from Singapore as my grandmother recalls). My mum was so happy to see this table vignette that she raved non-stop for 15 minutes and clicked pictures and asked me if she could use those lit mason jars to help the poor watchman see the rungs of the rickety ladder on the terrace, yeah right Ma.


Any ways back to the vignettes - if you are a novice in the realm of table vignettes just like me, you can begin your decor adventure with this simple and easily achievable look. 


Layer it up  


As I became confident with the approving glances from my mum and my creative companion/photographer, I decided to relinquish the urge to check Pinterest for ideas and just go with my new-found rhythm and make things up along the way. 



Vignettes are all about layering, but there's something I learned while experimenting - add too many layers and you scatter the attention and distract the viewer, so the trick is to nestle them together; it's okay if they slightly invade each other's footprint but make sure they don't hide each other. For a true #interiorstellar layered vignette look - use photo frames of varying heights (even ceramic pots look fabulous). I'm sure you would have noticed the charming little pine cone I added in the mix. You can add a small tchotchke or even a small cactus in the space formed between the superimposed objects. 


Add an element of fire


There's something warm and comforting and bonhomie about having a fire element in your table vignette. Remember that scene from Narnia, where little Lucy goes to Mr. Tumnus's home for tea and he plays this unique tune on his flute which makes the crackling flames in the fireplace take shape of dancing figures? What about that, you'd ask? So every time I lit those tea lights, I was reminded of that scene. Well, I have this tendency of relating fantastical things I watch in movies with routine chores as it keeps my sense of wonder intact. It's a nice little weird mental exercise, you should try it sometime. I'm sorry, I digress but I do believe that we all can use a little magic to sail through our chaotic lives. 



So, moving on. When you want to display candles, candelabrum, lanterns, bird cage (decked with string lights) in your vignette, make sure you don't layer it too much - as anything that's lit will obviously seize the attention first. The trick here is to balance it with something that is visually light and will throw the lit element into sharp relief or you can strategically include another lit object to establish an elemental connection. I love how the Florence Nightingale-statuette-cum-candle-holder and the copper tealight are adding depth to this vignette. 


Find a common thread


This is easy - just look for things that have some commonality between them - colors, shapes, patterns, etc. The logic here is quite simple - things that share the same visual characteristics like mentioned above, communicate harmony and inter-relatedness and look très chic. I love the pleasing interaction of white and green in this vignette - they look like a jolly good family to me.



I can't tell you how peacefully exhausted I was at the end of the shoot - all that arranging and accessorizing and arguing with the photographer about what looked yay and nay, was truly and utterly creatively satisfying.


If you are big time (or even small time) into creating fun table vignettes, I'd love to know your ideas, what you liked, and/or just about anything that popped into your mind after reading this.


Till then, ciao!


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