How to style a vignette
The differing heights of the delicate brass candlesticks provides visual interest to Courtney’s mantel-top display.

Think back to one chilly holiday afternoon in your childhood, as you gazed into the window of a downtown department store. Snow scattered on a small table, a pink-cheeked sugar plum fairy posed upon it, banked by sugared fruit and a single candle. This magical vignette spoke of many things: a famous ballet, the promise of the season, perhaps even your own dreams.

The French word, Vignette suggests a decorative flourish. It used to describe moments in a theatrical piece that illuminate a character or plot point. Now it refers to an intimate design grouping created as a pleasing focal point.

The common thread is the story element—stories told of family life, favorite things or a special celebration spring to life on a tabletop or in a room—and these little scenes never fail to captivate.

These pieces represent something meaningful and bring your home to life. People love to share decorating ideas using meaningful objects, which is why Gale Brisa started Vignette It, a Facebook page and group for styling vignettes. Here, she shares her tips for storytelling through vignettes.

Fresh flowers are consistently the feature of Courtney Allison’s vignette’s at home.

Set the Stage

Think about the favorite spots in your home—a large window with a lovely view, the corner near the table where family gathers each evening—for your vignettes. Vignettes are welcoming, so look at your foyer or front porch for possibilities.

Start with a clean slate and then decorate. Use this opportunity to reorganize and refresh this part of your home, thinning out clutter and storing the rest.

Oftentimes an attractive vignette and practical storage go hand in hand.

Main Characters

Your color choices are important and should be considered first. Whether the color is on your base (such as a runner or tablecloth), your primary piece or woven throughout the vignette, one or two spots of color always welcome the eye, says Gale.

Just remember: “In a room, the eye needs to rest,” Gale explains. Keep your large collections organized in cabinets, use a few pieces and switch them around every few months.

Vignettes thrive on color and scale, always considered and balanced. A cluster of tiny thimbles won’t register well to the eye, unless they’re gathered in old wood sewing table drawers stacked upon each other, with a few skeins of lace cascading down.

Stand back and look at the effect. Does it speak to you? Does it make you long to know the story of how these pieces came together? If so, then you’ve mastered the art.