A whimsical bookshelf vignette showcases unusual items of personal interest.
Photography by Hans Blomquist © Ryland Peters & Small 2019.
A display with surprising elements sits in harmony on a rustic fireplace mantel.

When you walk into a room, what is it that makes it feel like home to you? The furniture pieces are familiar, there is the lingering scent of a spicy candle, a photograph that smiles back at you. Memories make it special and mark the space as yours. Why not take the next step and create a vignette in an unused corner or on a bookshelf that showcases a selection of items that might not otherwise be on display? There are really no rules, but a few tips will help you get started.

Work loosely around a theme. A vignette tells a story. Go on a search looking for items that you have stashed away, or pieces you have picked up just because they speak to you. Choose a spot and begin to assemble. On a shelf work from the back to the front. Items can be close together or overlapping, but you want to be able to see everything. Vary the heights and positions rather than one straight line. Keep to one or two colour groups (unless the object of the vignette is colour change).

In his charming book, Inspired by Nature: Creating a Personal and Natural Interior, photographer Hans Blomquist is inspired by the many vignettes he comes across on his travels. Blomquist naturally sees through a camera lens, capturing still life scenes that appear by happenstance as well as those that are designed. He notes that “on a simple wall shelf, a collection of small green glass bottles sits very well with vintage paintbrushes and books, creating a display that is uncomplicated but eye-catching.” Blomquist revels in nature’s artwork and is drawn to interiors that abound in the innate imperfection of natural materials as he loves nature himself. The vignettes throughout the book glorify this theme, where dried branches, old linen fabrics, bits of metalwork and baskets, driftwood and old wood furniture mingle happily and produce a calm mood that is fascinating to explore.

An equally compelling display is captured by interior designer Janna Allbritton. The focal point here is not just the fireplace. The entire wall has been assembled to show her take on Farmhouse Chic. Allbritton creates depth by layers that graduate from back to front. Country-themed artwork, greenery, vases, and candles are artistically displayed, some in unexpected ways. One picture overlapping another is not the norm, a book held open by a small potted plant is quirky. These surprises pull you in, you want to explore.

A vignette is a pleasing focal point that adds character to a room. The theme should make a connection to the rest of your interior décor, while highlighting personal items that catch your eye. These displays can and usually do vary throughout the year. Seasonal changes and new finds will spark your imagination and shift your focus. Play with your rooms, move the furniture, switch out artwork, add a paint colour or strip of wallpaper to a wall in the hall. Keep it fresh and you will always love coming home.