What do you do when you have a little too many things that ‘spark joy’? (This is the catch phrase from the Marie Kondo book “ The Magic of Tidying Up” as well as her show on Netflix.)
I found myself in this situation recently in my kitchen. For many years, I have been collecting pairs of hens and roosters. I have found them in yard sales and thrift shops, but also in a consignment barn in Fresno, CA, and a cheesy little tourist shop on Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara, CA.
In the background of these pictures, you can also see I have a collection of colored ceramic pitchers and tea pots in primary colors: red, blue and yellow. My kitchen is yellow and white, and the colors of the hens and roosters sets, tea pots and pitchers fit in perfectly.
On the other hand…when I started reading home décor blogs 6 or 7 years ago, the collections of white pitchers, white dishes, and white platters I saw made a huge impact on me. I love the simple, classic feel of a hutch filled with white pitchers, platters and tea cups, or a wall with a beautifully arranged grouping of plates. That started me on an active search for white pitchers in particular. Home Goods has been an amazing source, (big surprise!), but treasures from thrift shops and garage sales make up a good percentage of my collection as well.
Which leads me back to my ‘sparking joy’ problem. As soon as I had all of Christmas put away, I was ready to do some winter decorating. The living room came together pretty easily, but I ran into a speed bump in my kitchen. There are two areas in my kitchen that are ‘display’ areas; the hutch in the corner and the shelf plate over the sink. (Here is a post about my challenges and adventures with styling the plate shelf.)
And as usually happens, this ‘speed bump’ I ran into became 3 lessons I learned about styling shelves and hutches: proportion, color, and symmetry.
I started with filling the kitchen corner hutch with white pitchers; it’s something I have done for the past few years now, and really love it. Without realizing it, this display hits all the right marks with proportion, color and symmetry.
For proportion, the larger white pitchers fill up the shelves nicely, and the smaller pitchers sit on lifts.
For color, the consistency of white is calming and soothing.
And for symmetry, each shelf has a similar display of two large pitchers and one small pitcher. (Admittedly, I played it a little safe here.)
But then I came across the bin full of the hens and rosters, pitchers and tea pots. That is when the too-much-joy-sparking kicked in. I enjoy this collection and wanted to display it. So, I removed the white pitchers, and filled the hutch with roosters, pitchers and tea pots, and then stood back to admire my handiwork. Except I didn’t like it. It looked dark and busy, and there was no real focus for the eye.
Here is where I learned the two lessons about proportion and color.
First of all, the roosters and pitchers didn’t really the spaces in the hutch. Secondly, all the roosters and pitchers are different colors, so there was no real consistency or cohesiveness.
For a day or two, I let it sit. But it didn’t help. Every time I looked at the hutch, I wanted to see pretty, calm and serene. All I saw was busy, and dark, and no real focus. I really wanted to display the pitchers and the roosters, but I couldn’t see a way to do it.
And then it finally occurred to me that I could use the shelf above the sink to display the roosters and pitchers. A flurry of activity and the hutch was back and filled with white pitchers, and the shelf above the sink was a colorful combination of rooster and hens, and tea pots.
Here is the first pass; everything went up with tea pots in the back and the rosters in the front.
(My apologies for these blurry photos!) Again, the ‘color’ lesson kicked in. Right way, I realized I had to eliminate the pale green pitcher. (It’s the second pitcher on the left.) The color value did not fit with in with the all the true blue, red, yellow and green colors. The symmetry lesson also surfaced…. because there was no symmetry. Just a scattered collection of pitchers and roosters with no beginning, end or middle.
The second pass is more cohesive for a couple of reasons. Even though all roosters and pitchers are different colors, they are all primary colors, with the exception of the green pitcher. But even so, that green color still works because all the colors have the same value.
The pale green pitcher had a different value color, and threw the whole vignette off. Additionally, the neutral background of the plate shelf really helps those primary colors pop.
Also, with the removal of the pale green pitcher, I now had a collection of 4 pitchers/teapots, and 3 sets of hens and roosters. I lined up the 4 pitchers/teapots along the back, giving them a bit of spacing in between. Then I filled those 3 spaces with the 3 sets of hens and roosters.
All of a sudden, there was a sense of symmetry, with lots of ‘joy sparking’ going on!
Final result is my hutch is filled with beautiful white pitchers, and the plate shelf is a cheerful, kitschy collection of pitchers and roosters. The color over the sink is bright and welcoming, and the hutch full of white pitchers is classic, cozy and inviting. Indeed – it all sparks joy!
A big challenge for me personally is styling shelves, book cases and (clearly) my plate shelf. I have so much to learn that I even have a Pinterest board specific to that subject.
Styling the plate shelf was a great learning experience for me (again)! I learned about proportion and color when I tried to put the pitchers and roosters in the hutch and the final result looked dark and unfocused. I learned about color again, when I put a mix of color values on the plate shelf. And I learned about symmetry when I edited the collection down to 4 pitchers and 3 rooster sets, and positioned them alternately.
What I also learned here was to stay true to what I really wanted to display, but be to flexible in how to go about actually styling my joy-sparking accessories. I had not even considered filling up the plate shelf with roosters and tea pots, until it became the only available option.
Styling and accessorizing anywhere takes a little bit of exploring and flexibility; move things around, put them where you don’t think they will work. Even if they don’t, the process of trying new combinations and display settings can trigger an even better idea. You’re fueling your brain for creativity! There is no right or wrong, there is only what feels right to you. And then – watch out for the spark of joy!
From our home to yours~
Sharing at these Link Parties:
Cedar Hill Farmhouse The Scoop // A Stroll Thru Life Inspire Me Tuesday // Hearth & Soul // Everyday Edits Inspire Me Monday // Home Stories A-Z Tutorials & Tips Link Party // Yesterday on Tuesday Project Inspired // Sweet Parrish Place Totally Terrific Tuesdays // Jodie Fitz Reader Tip Craft Recipe Party // Of Faeries and Fauna Waste Not Wednesday // Gingersnap Crafts Wow Me Wednesday // The Painted Hinge Farmhouse Friday // Marilyn’s Treats Thursday Favorite Things // A Delightsome Life Home & Garden Thursday // Chic on a Shoestring Flaunt it Friday // b4 and Afters Best of the Weekend // French Ethereal Share Your Style // Designthusiasm // Love Of Home Sundays at Home // Across the Boulevard Snickerdoodle Create Bake Make // Finding Silver Pennies Sundays Link Party // Marilyn’s Treats Over the Moon // I Should be Mopping the Floor //