Are we done with a room yet? We’re getting close. And that counts for something.
Decorating a room from scratch is a lot like losing weight. If you’ve read any weight loss success stories, you know they always include the horror of the last 10 pounds. Everything is going gangbusters in the beginning, then right when the end is in sight… progress stalls out. In our living room, the last bits of progress–finding just the right window treatments, deciding if that relatively empty corner is lovely negative space or a good place to stick a tall plant–have been hanging on like Eva Marie Saint on Mount Rushmore.
Progress has definitely been made. We’ve ripped up seafoam green shaggy carpet (not shag carpet… just shaggy) as well as tack strip and padding to reveal hardwood flooring. The wall of wood paneling which once matched the carpet now only matches the other walls in the room. The three other walls which were once rough plywood coated in Elderly Choice™ brand wallpaper are now smoothed out and painted swan grey. The once literally dusty curtains with pleated valances are out, and the stand-in curtains are doing the job for now. Also, we turquoise’d the ceiling! I love the ceiling.
The room is now something we can live with. Now it’s time to roll into the home stretch. What would you do to make this room pop?
I decided to spare you any Rain-bowl word play, and let this image I snapped of the pretty kitchen display in Anthro speak for itself. I love the idea of using dishes of many colors… why pick just one?
What would you choose for your kitchen? A blend of all the colors, a single hue, or a tailored two-tone look like white and turquoise?
Have you ever noticed that houses in magazines have a certain indeterminable sense of style about them that makes our own homes seem less than? Even though most featured rooms are from “real homes,” they look kind of… staged.
Well, that’s because they are. When you see a stylist credit on a magazine spread, that means there was a professional who came into the room and tweaked things to make the space look more appealing. Some stylist tricks are simple–adding a bouquet of fresh flowers that matches a room’s color palette, for example. Sometimes stylists practically make over a room with brought-in props. I’ve been paying attention to the methods, and there are a few ways you can do your room up magazine-style for less than the cover price of your favorite shelter title.
One of the best and easiest ways to get that styled look in your home is by creating vignettes. This is one of the things that stylists do ALL THE TIME. If you look closely, you’ll often see that items used in vignettes are culled from elsewhere in the home, as shown in alternate views. In one photo, some glasses and a visually compelling bottle of Hendrick’s gin rest on the kitchen counter (where gin should be, at all times!). Then you notice in photos of the living room, that exact same glass and bottle combination magically appears as part of a styled vignette with lime wedges on a mirrored tray set precariously yet casually atop an ottoman.
So what makes an effective vignette, and how can you whip one up in your house in three steps?
1. Start with a surface: In our case, a low wooden trunk that we literally found on a curb was perfect. It was visually compelling, but too low to be useful as, say, a coffee table. It was just getting lost in the room, like Danny DeVito in an auditorium full of Dutch men. Take a look around your house: have any un-used or under-utilized tables, trunks, desks, or wooden crates?
2. Tell a color story: I had a calendar print (which we discuss here) in a float frame (which we discuss here), that had just been propped against the wall for a long time waiting for a home. I noticed how well the golden and brown accents in the print looked with the muted yellow paint and bronze hardware on the trunk. With that, a color theme of muted brown, gold, white, and turquoise made itself clear.
3. Add dimension and carry out a theme: The real key to a good vignette is having multiple shapes to create depth and height. I had found a small woven rug on the clearance shelf at a local big-box store and was using it in front of the door; with white, gold, and turquoise stripes it was a perfect fit with the color scheme of the vignette, and the size was perfect under the trunk. The husband had found an old globe at a thrift store for $4. The muted colors of the continents looked lovely with the other elements, and combined with the old trunk and national park print, established a subtle travel theme. With the color and theme in mind, the last small element was a folded map of Maine with an illustration of a lobster that mirrors the tones on the globe.
Although we loved the dense vignette that resulted from the propped print, we know ourselves well enough to predict that our inherent clumsiness would one day cause that frame to fall and shatter. We re-style the vignette so the image hung on the wall–low enough to still be at one with the globe, trunk, and map, but still high enough to visually sync with the round mirrors on the wall. I cozied a cardboard Eiffel Tower (a $4 yard sale find that we already owned) up to the group, which fit in perfectly with the color scheme, and worked well thematically and spatially.
One of my favorite parts of the new arrangement? The fish-eye mirror reflects our aqua ceiling in a way that mimics the aqua sky in the print, and the rounded shape is just similar enough to the globe to create another subtle similarity that ties everything together. To me, this is the key to a pretty vignette: when all of the elements are tied together in an organic, relational way without each individual piece having to match every other piece.
How about you? What unused (or under-enjoyed) items are sitting around your house that you could make a vignette with?
It’s not too late to add some pretty holiday cheer to your house… even if you’re cheap and procrastination-prone. I did some thrift store scavenging over the weekend, collected every vintage-y looking glass ball ornament I found, and stacked those babies up in a glass trifle dish. The result? Speedy holiday cheer, for a grand total of less than $3.
We happened to already own the trifle dish, but even if you don’t have one the project is still pretty inexpensive. I’ve seen the dishes for roughly $6 in big box stores. But before you run out and buy one, really scour your house for creative, clear vessels. This would work just as well in a glass bowl, large vase, or even a wide-mouthed mason jar. You want to be a little careful in your placement of the balls–don’t just dump them all in the dish and expect a polished look. You want to make sure the hook part (often rusted on these vintage ornaments) is facing inward so the colorful, reflective part of the ball is what you see when looking through the dish. Oh, and be really careful that you keep this out of reach of kids and animals. These things are super fragile, and some of the rusty ones are a tetanus risk to boot.
This collection was found between two thrift stores. In one, they had a plastic bag of about six (one was pre-shattered in the bag, likely due to tomfoolery) for 99 cents. At the next store, there was a bin of ornaments that had been 30 cents each, and were now half off. Since many balls in this bin were also broken, the savings may have been intended to offset the potential cost of stitches. I gingerly snatched up 10 intact ornaments for $1.50.
If you stick with silver and bright colors like pink and aqua (as opposed to a strict green and red theme) think this could even be kept on display into the new year. The sparkly, icy look says “winter” to me much more than “Christmas.” What do you think?
So often, kitchens are the one part of the house that suffer from trend neglect. Maybe it’s because the kitchen is such a utilitarian room that it is often one of the last places people worry about when decorating. That really shouldn’t be the case, since there are so many little purchases that can make your kitchen au courant. Today, I wanted to show you some easy, affordable (nothing over $30!), and still very useful items that can bring the Pantone color the year into your kitchen.
1. I am obsessed with Le Creuset, but the cookware is pretty pricey. This gorgeous flame color Le Creuset mug is a perfect way to get an affordable fix until I can invest in the thousands of dollars worth of enameled cookware that I covet.
2. This retro metal wall clock is adorable, and a good way for someone with more a vintage inspired design aesthetic to embrace the modern color trend of the moment without abandoning their old school sensibilities. If Flavor Flav could see you now!
3. Need something hot to put in your tangerine mug? How about coffee (or tea!) from this 8 cup Bodum orange French press coffee maker? The Husband and I are huge French press fans. When the weather gets chilly, we use a tea towel or clean dish towel like a scarf around the pot to keep it warm for longer. Which brings me to…
4. A lovely handmade tangerine print linen tea towel from etsy shop SVEIKA textiles.
5. Pretty tangerine Fiesta salt & pepper shakers are nice-looking enough to display on the table all the time.
6. Utility and style unite with these happy KitchenAid measuring spoons and measuring cups. Instead of tucking them away in a drawer, try screwing a small hook into the side of your cupboard to hang these on.