Putting it into Words: DIY Tips on Making a Good Vignette… it can be an Odd Balancing Act

Ever have something that you’re good at, but when someone asks you to explain how to do it, you struggle with being able to put it into words?

I’ve struggled with that too, especially several years ago, before I started to decorate for hire. I had natural ability to create but really hadn’t ‘wrapped my mind around’ exactly what it was that made one arrangement or vignette look so much better than the next.

It took me many years of studying, both books, and pictures, plus doing and re-doing many, many arrangements, vignettes and hanging artwork to be able to ‘get it’.

I was constantly asking myself, (yes, out loud sometimes) what did I like or not like about this or that vignette, until I was finally able to put it into words…

So here are a just a couple of tips that on what I’ve learned to make vignettes or arrangements look great.

Symmetrical vs. asymmetrical. Either can be beautiful, or not so much… why?

I think the 3 keys to a good vignette has a lot to do with balance, contrast and with oddness. Oddness as in groups of 3.

I did an asymmetrical Easter/Spring arrangement on the dining table this year. But in all it’s asymmetrical-ness, do you still notice the balancing of elements?

The glass, there are 3 glass elements. (Cloche, cake stand, and bottle candle holders… even though there are two bottles, they’re grouped together to be a single element.)

The metal, there are 3 metal elements. (The wheel on the wheelbarrow, and the two fence sections.)

And the natural wood type elements, again 3. (The nest, the basket, and the handles on the wheelbarrow.)

Balance: I have placed these elements to start at one side and repeat through the arrangement, almost like how you read a book… to carry your eye throughout the vignette…

And contrast: this is the most exciting part of making an arrangement for me… I love to take a fine piece of china and put it with something really rustic, natural or rusty… like here where I’ve put the glass cake stand paired with a rustic basket, and an old rusty wheelbarrow filled with perfectly shiny eggs, and the clear cloche paired with the natural twig birds nest…

Let’s look at a symmetrical arrangement for a minute…

Same rules apply with a symmetrical vignette too.

Even with the even numbers of bowls both on the ledge and wall, and pair of candles on either side of the lamp, there is still a subconscious element of odd-ness… do you see it?  Yes, of course the single lamp, and the single oil painting, but that’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about the subconscious group of 3… in the color!  See how your eye bounces from the orange candles to the orange roosters in the cabinet, to the orange rooster on the bowl on the wall?

There are also 3 elements of roosters… the bowls on the wall, the lamp and the pair in the cupboard.

And contrast? Well of course, look at that old beat up cupboard with chipping paint and a screen door paired with a fine china bowl and glazed roosters inside it.  And look at the chippy white rooster lamp paired with the candlesticks on either side of it…  contrast is what brings life and takes away ‘stuffiness’ or ‘sameness’ to an arrangement.

Let’s pick apart one more vignette: the Spring mantel.

Now you’re a pro at it, so you can fill in the blanks…




Do you see it all?

The 3 groups of white repeated to pull your eye through the arrangement?

The natural/brown element to do the same?

The beautiful fine china platter juxtaposed or contrasted with rustic elements?

Maybe this is just me, but once you can nail down what you’re looking for in an arrangement, you can really have a lot of fun looking at it and seeing the ‘groups’ balanced and contrasted throughout each vignette. Ok, maybe it’s just me…





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Reader Interactions


  1. Kathy says

    Love this! I agree with three being the key, creating balance and symmetrical – I will be featuring this post in this evening’s Home and Garden Thursday post! I appreciate you sharing,

  2. Judy says

    These are some great tips. I will be featuring this tonight at my Sizzle into Summer party that opens at 8pm EST. Please stop by and pick up an I’ve Been Featured button. Thanks.

  3. Pamela says

    Thank you for explaining this so perfectly! I am going to try to remember this….or better yet I am going to follow by email.

  4. kim@too much time says

    Thanks for this post! I have no experience or training in decorating and I totally struggle with vignettes! I know what I like when I see it, but can NEVER recreate them for myself. I especially love your mantle…..I may have to just get exactly what you have and completely copy it next spring:)
    Thanks for linking up!

  5. Judy says

    This is a great post. I struggle with vignettes from time and time and your tips will help. Thanks for sharing at DIYbyDesign.

  6. Marty@A Stroll Thru Life says

    Your cloche vignette is so pretty and the nest is perfect. Beautifully done. I love all of your vignettes, The roosters are fabulous and then there is that mirror. Stunning. Thanks so much for joining the party. Hugs, Marty

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