By popular request, I’m doing a post all about bookcases and vignettes around the house. Now mind you, I am totally not an expert on all of this. I just do what I like and play with things until they look good to me. I don’t particularly follow “design principles” or go by the rules. You’re heard me say it many times. I’m not a minimalist and that is totally true, as I enjoy my collections and those things that surround me and make me smile.
But, I’ll give you all a few pointers of things that I have learned. It’s often said that things should be grouped in odd numbers and that’s one thing that does seem to consistently work for pleasing displays. I know everyone doesn’t like as much stuff as I do and that my house would be considered cluttered by many, but that’s OK. I do what I like. This is the bookcase in my blue guestroom and I’ve filled it up with all sorts of little treasures that I’ve found in my hunts. Most of this came from yardsales or were gifts or things that I’ve had a long time. I’ve got plenty of books that I use stacked on these shelves and most of them I’ve read. I sort of grouped some like things together with the finials on the right and then 3 items on the left with fake grass in the middle. No rhyme or reason, really just what is pleasing to my eye. Might not be pleasing to anyone else. The small round pottery piece to the left was a gift from a friend and the redhaired girl was a blog giveaway prize I won in the last couple of years, a handpainted tile.
Lots of bunnies here, and these were found at yardsales. I hung that little bunny plaque right up on the beadboard and sort of kept the 3 grouping thing going here. Added the small aqua jar that I just found here too. The yellow pottery piece on the left I found at an antique store and I love the shape of it. All those shells there were found by me while beach-combing in Florida.
More books, urn, armillary, and a nice white piece of coral, all of this found at yardsales, except the framed print. The print I bought from Kari and Kjisa, since I couldn’t resist that cute bunny and it’s hanging on the beadboard on a little nail.
On another shelf, this is a group of 3 again, with an iron bowl and fruit made out of beans & seeds (don’t even remember where I got those), bunny planter, and a small bunny oil on a bamboo easel. One thing that I love to do is vary the heights of things. That always adds more interest to groupings. If everything is the same height, it can be pretty boring, so keep that in mind. Vary those heights. And layering is always something I love to do. It adds dimension to bookshelves and keeps it fun to look at.
Here on the night table, I have the tall lamp, plus a dried arrangement, so I kept the middle part lower with the clock sitting on books and a small vintage oil painting hanging on the wall behind. This is what I mean about layering, adding that little special something on the wall.
In my laundry room, this shelf on the wall holds a symmetrical arrangement which is always a safe way to go. The large birdcage in the middle, flanked by the 2 small topiaries and then 2 different birdhouses on either end. Interesting, but not boring and the middle piece is the tallest.
Dining room table centerpiece. Again, a group of 3 things. Largest and tallest in the middle with the cloche sitting on a cake plate and flanked by 2 dark wooden candlesticks. Simple, but pretty.
My foyer table gets changed quite a bit, but I always go back to 3 big things on here and I like that the best for impact. I sometimes do some smaller things seasonally, but to me the tall something in the middle with the lamp and statue on either side is a good balance. The middle urn gets changed out periodically for another one too.
Here on the kitchen shelf, I’ve just filled this up with all my green Bordallo pottery and it’s sort of staggered in height to keep it interesting. The small leaf plate is hanging up on the wall with a plate hanger. I love to do that sort of thing whether it’s in a bookcase or shelf.
My fireplace mantel is totally symmetrical, with the large painting, 3 pears centered and the fleur de lis sconces on either side. I should play around with this more, but I sort of like it simple. You can see I found a place for those recent yardsale finds of the candle sconces.Had to move another pair to make room for these.
So, to sum up doing vignettes and bookcases, here’s what has worked for me:
- Keep in mind that odd numbers work well for displaying things, think in groups of 3’s or 5’s when you put items together.
- Sometimes displaying a collection of all one thing is the way to go, like my white dish collection in the diningroom. Since it’s all the same color, that makes it more interesting than if I threw in other patterns or colors.
- Vary the heights when you are displaying things. If you line all your items up on the fireplace like little soldiers, that will not be a good look. Nor is putting a bunch of tiny little things on the mantel either. They will just get lost and it’s not pretty! This is probably one of the most common mistakes I see that a lot of girls do.
- Go for bigger and fewer items when you’re working on a table or coffee table. (not that I follow this suggestion all the time either, but I try)
- Adding books or some sort of riser is a good way to add some height to an object when you need it. I love those small plaster pedestals for that sort of thing and have a few of those and look out at yardsales for things like that.
- Use what you love, don’t just buy something because it is trendy. (and yes, I don’t always follow that either) 🙂
One thing that I’m working on doing is getting rid of the cheapie accessories that I’ve collected. I’m really, really tired of the Made in China mass-produced stuff and I’m on a mission to rid my house of it. I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it. No more resin and cheap China things will come in here. I’d much rather look for American vintage or European vintage things to bring in and get rid of the other stuff. So, I’ve got a ways to go, but I just might have to do another yardsale this fall. I’ve also gotten rid of about half of my fake plants. No all, but many of them are gone and I’d love to use mostly real, since I’ve always loved real plants so much. It really isn’t that hard to take care of them and I have a lot already.
I’ve noticed that dishes made in China are not nearly as durable as Italian and Portugal made china pieces are. There’s a world of difference in the quality, so no more of those either.
So, I hope you got a little bit of good and useful information with this hodge-podge of stuff I’ve shared. Like I said, I’m totally not an expert, but don’t mind sharing what I do and how I do it and hope it will benefit all of you too.
A big thank you to Artie, at Color Outside the Lines, for sending me this Martha book, Tag Sales & Flea Markets! Hmmm, wonder how he knew? 🙂 Very nice surprise after I sent him something, but totally did not expect this at all. So, thank you Artie! I’ll really enjoy adding this book to my collection.