For summer, I wanted to have a dining table vignette that is beach-y and natural looking. Our home is small but there are nice sightlines to the dining room table from the living room and the kitchen table. Because of that visibility, I like to keep the dining table decorated in a seasonal way.
The principles of vignettes are color, texture, height, depth and shape. In this post, I hope to show you how this vignette utilizes those 5 principles.
I find that the best way to start is with a blank canvas, er, blank table!
Step one was to put down a very natural looking runner; it’s almost a sand color. (It came from Home Goods a few years back.)
Step 2 was to use this basket as a focal point. This basket jumped into my cart one day at Home Goods. The structure is metal, with rope and wood handles. I originally saw it as a rather nautical themed basket, great for summertime. But truly it is far more versatile! I have been able to use it for Harvest decorating and Early Winter as well.
In step 3, I added a couple of blocks of wood for height, and placed my garage sale lantern on top. I nearly balked when the original owner wanted $5 for it. But I now consider money well-spent. I love this lantern, and I would like to buy another one. I keep looking, but haven’t really found anything I love as much as this one! (Sitting inside the lantern is a battery-operated candle, on a timer!)
In step 4 I start to fill the basket. The first layer is basically all wine corks mixed in with a few small pine cones. Together they do a great job of not falling out of the openings in the basket, and they build a slight foundation for the next layer.
For the 2nd layer I combined the wine corks, pine cones, and a ‘support’ layer of shells. The pine cones with their dark color add a nice contrast against the lighter colors of the wine corks and shells.
The 3rd and last layer is the showy shells with their beautiful patterns, shapes, and colors. Since this basket is so open, every single layer shows through, making for interesting layers of shapes, textures and colors. An alternative could be a tight weave basket that is more shallow, allowing for a build-up of shells, small pine cones, wine corks, or whatever else you choose to fill it with.
At this point, clearly the table needs something else. I added two large green pots of pothos to each side, and stood back. Hmmm…not so good. The plants filled out the rest of the table nicely, but they were the wrong size. The pots were too large, and were out of balance with the basket and lantern.
Next I tried 2 smaller pots, in a lovely soft teal color that worked well with the lantern color and the runner.
Now it’s starting to look better; these smaller pots don’t overwhelm the basket and lantern. And the teal ties in well with the green roof of the lantern. But all of a sudden inspiration struck! Years ago, I picked up these two sand pipers figurines; it was one of those “I like these, and they will work…..somehow!” moments. And here, I think they work nicely. (I did see larger versions of these sand pipers at Home Goods this summer.)
But just to show that vignettes can really be any combination of things, I replaced the sand pipers with 2 candle holders, topped with candles (again, battery-operated on a timer) with a starfish tied to them. Beach-y, summery and natural!
The principles of vignettes are color, texture, height, depth and shape. In this vignette, the colors all work together with their muted and natural tones. The smooth round shapes of the pots are an attractive contrast to the shells, pine cones and wine corks in the basket. The up and down height of the candles (or sand pipers) versus the squatty shape of the pots keeps the eye moving, without being jarring.
Sometimes it just takes playing around until you find the right balance of look. And always remembering to put together various combinations, even if you don’t think it will work! How many times do you envision a vignette, only to have it fall short when it is put together? Add in, take away, pull out. Combine random things that you’re not sure will work together. Chances are they won’t, but in the ‘this doesn’t really work’ moment, you may catch a vision of what DOES work!
It’s a creative process: two steps backward, one to the side, three steps forward!