The key to make a great looking sideboard arrangement, or any arrangement for that matter, I think, is balance. There are tons of other rules of arranging to be observed… and broken, but balance is really key.
Let’s run through the steps to make an arrangement on this sideboard and see just what balance does to make it look visually appealing:
Here is the built-in sideboard, original to our newly renovated 100 year old house.
(In a future post, I’ll show you all the details about it’s transformation with the before and after pics, but for now, this is about the ‘how-to’ on arranging)
First thing I start with, is the big center piece, which in this case is this large birdcage. This birdcage is quite large. I love that even though it is big, with the open wire walls, it allows the Pottery Barn mirror mounted behind it to bounce light around. (here is the birdcage in our former house on a baker’s table) However, just because it is the biggest piece of the composition, it’s not necessarily the focal point… keep reading…
Next, some light and freshness…
I have used these faux amaryllis flowering bulbs from Target.com in so many arrangements. They have so much going for them… fresh white, natural texture, and height.
Here’s the first balancing tip…
See how there are 2 amaryllis on the left and only 1 on the right? That weighs the left a little more, pulling your eye there to start, and the way they’re arranged on the left, from the front to the back, your eye reads it from the far left front to the back left corner of the birdcage and then off to the front right.
But I’m not happy with just the plain painted top of the sideboard in this layout, so after I went to search for something interesting, I decided on this:
It is actually a piece of landscape burlap, with a very open, textural weave. After a month of all the lovely, but busy, Christmas decor throughout the house, my eyes are ready for a rest. I always love neutrals in January! (here you can see how I used some of this burlap for a tablescape in our former house)
This burlap piece helps ‘tie’ all the pieces that make this arrangement into one unified group too.
The burlap is laid loosely, slightly bunched, for a very casual effect.
Now just to fill in the arrangement a little, without getting it too busy with a lot of small things.
OK, so remember what I said about breaking the rules? You must be willing to adjust as you’re making an arrangement.
Yup, I changed it up so that the 2 potted amaryllis bulbs are now on the right, but to compensate and still start your eye on the left, I added an even taller yellow orchid, that I placed in a champagne bucket. (if that’s what’s it’s called? I bought the pair at an estate sale in Maine last summer. I just loved it for it’s shape and color, not for cooling champagne) Then to compliment the champagne bucket, I placed it’s mate, an ice bucket slightly in front and right of the champagne bucket.
So now, my very subtle accent color is yellow. Do you see how it’s balanced and flows throughout the arrangement?
First the tall yellow orchids on the left, the very subtle yellow centers of the amaryllis, and then the Villeroy and Boch bowl on the right front has yellow accents.
It is this balance of color that gives flow and what makes an arrangement almost have movement, pulling your eye around it. Besides balancing the yellow in the composition, do you also notice the white balanced and flowing from the silver pieces to the amaryllis and candles in the back and around to the other side curling up and ending at the Villeroy and Boch bowl in the front? And the way that all the pieces are arranged to almost hug the small white bowl?
Aha! Thus the smallest piece, the white Villeroy and Boch bowl is the focal piece of the whole composition on the sideboard, isn’t it?
Now there are certainly other aspects one could note in this very basic arrangement, such as groups of 3 are for some reason pleasing to the eye. Note 3 amaryllis, 3 objects on each side of the birdcage, and 3 main groups, (the yellow orchid group being 1, the birdcage being 2 and the pair of amaryllis and bowl on right being the third) And how about texture, and certainly juxtaposition… look at the contrast from the humble landscaper’s burlap to the fine Villeroy and Boch bowl sitting on it! (I love, love, love juxtapostion in decorating!!) And I could go on and on, in fact, the old saying, a picture is worth a thousand words, comes to mind when I think of practically that many things to help explain my thoughts when constructing an arrangement such as in this picture. But for now, much is explained and hopefully intriguing you to do some arranging with just thinking about balancing.
You can find more tips on arrangements and vignettes I’ve written about here:
I appreciate you stopping by.
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