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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

Vignette Design Series #4~Color

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Have you ever wondered 
how stylists create their beautiful 

Welcome to Element #4
"the property possessed by an object of producing different
sensations on the eye as a result of the way the object reflects or emits light"
(Well, what do you know...color is supposed to make sensations on my eyes!)
in a

Hue, intensity, and value are the three properties of color,
but what is important in creating vignettes is to
consider intensity and value.

Hue refers to color names on the color wheel.
Intensity (saturation) refers to light versus dark.  Think pink to maroon.
Visualize pastels to jewel tones.

Value refers to bright versus dull.  Think true hue to dull gray.
Using Annie Sloan Dark Wax changes the value of a paint
by graying the color.

Not only do the intensity of the colors in this vignette match, 
but the hues (colors) in the objects are picked up and repeated in one another.
The soft yellows, pinks, peaches, and greens in the silk flowers 
appear in the three cards, also.
Blue in the cup and saucer is repeated 
in the hanging floral print, the post cards, and the paperweight.

The floral print's blues and greens are the same intensity and value 
as the colors in the three cards.

The intensity of the blue in the large print's flower 
is repeated in the hydrangea paperweight 
and in the intensity of the blue in the watercolor postcard.
The blue colors are not exactly the same hue (color of blue), 
but because their intensities are similar,
they blend together well.

Look closely at the flowers in the two side flowers above. 
Pastel yellows, peaches, and greens reflect the same hues 
and intensities that are in the cards and silk flowers.

The soft colors in the cards are harmonious with each other and the silk flowers.
The colors in the card with the landscape viewed through an open door echo 
the colors in the silk flowers.

The green of the boxwood blends with the greens 
in the cards and the hanging print.
The hues (shades of green) are different, 
but because the intensities and values are similar, 
the greens work together.

Now look at a Pottery Barn vignette.
How are the colors harmonious in this group?

Even neutrals require thought 
for them to work together. 
We can identify some things the 
stylist did in this grouping.

The white color is mostly the same. 
There are not blue whites, yellow whites, grey whites 
all used in this vignette. 
The rope, posts, and table 
share the same hue of white.
The lanterns' white is a different hue, but close enough 
since the lanterns are distressed.
The white flowering plant repeats the white in the vignette.
The stylist did not use another hue for the flower.

The amber bottles in the top lantern 
add another hue, but help the creamy whites 
of the candles to blend with the white 
in the lanterns and table.

The dark grey of the lantern tops echoes 
the same grey in the shell lying on the table.

Now, it's time for you to think about vignettes' colors.
When you see a vignette that does not quite seem 
to go together, look at the color intensities and values.
Changing just one item for a better intensity match 
may make all the difference.
Source: Glencoe
Color wheel illustrating Hues.

This completes our look at four elements, 
Composition, Theme, Texture, Color, 
of Vignette Design.

Next post, #5 Create, we look at tips for putting into 
practice what the first four posts 
reviewed in creating vignettes. 
#5 Create will be the last 
post in the Series of Vignette Design.
Please join me at these inspiring sites...


Vignette Design Series #3~Texture

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Have you ever wondered 
how stylists create their beautiful 

Welcome to Element #3
"the feel, appearance, or consistency of a surface"
in a

Texture adds layers and depth to a collection,
 keeping it from appearing flat, one-dimensional.

I love white Texas limestone.  
Thus, a white limestone fireplace 
is a focal point in my living room and kitchen.
The end of it serves as the backdrop of my vignettes 
on the pine chest of drawers.
Love the texture of white limestone...

Using different textures in a vignette ups 
the interest-level of the objects.
Repeating an element helps 
unify the overall design.
While the boxwood adds another textural
 dimension with its real leaves, its stone pot
 echoes the limestone background.

Wooden carved birds add another texture 
while their white-wash finish 
repeats the white in the limestone and the pot,
 and picks up the white backgrounds in the 
cards and hanging floral print.

Paper is one of my passions. 
P A P E R - how I love thee, let me count the ways...
All of these cards are botanical...
Ah...perfect to use in this vignette.

I often buy greeting cards for their designs,
 not because there is an occasion that calls for one. 

I also save cards that friends and family give me,
 for sentimental reasons and because I love the designs.
Postcards from places traveled are inexpensive souvenirs, 
easy to pack (how much does this weigh), and 
make great additions to vignettes.
So, I have a stash of cards ready to pull out to use
 as decorating objects.  

Glass is a smooth texture that contrasts with 
wood and the roughness of stones. 
The hanging floral print, the paperweight, and
 the frame for the old French watercolor postcard 
all use glass.

Let's review 
the kinds of texture 
in this vignette.
Stone, wood, plant, paper, glass...

Another great texture to use is fabric. 
Different kinds of fabrics, silk, wool, cotton, linen, leather...
 plus ruffles, braiding, lace, pom-poms, metallic threads...
 create stunning textures.

Now, let's look at a Pottery Barn vignette.
What do the pros do?
Source: Pottery Barn Online Catalog
What are the textures in this vignette?

Wood - table, posts, deck, lanterns
Glass - lanterns, bottles
Metal - lantern tops, repeated
Sand - the beach, feel the grit between your toes?
Plant - white flowers in a pot
Seashell, Candles, Rope

Packs a wallop of textures into one simple collection...

Look at charming, or colorful, or dramatic, 
or stop-in-your-tracks

Is there texture galore?

Stay tuned...
Vignette Design Series #4~Color
Vignette Design Series #5~Create
are coming.

Vignette Design Series #2~Theme

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Have you ever wondered 
how stylists create their beautiful 

Welcome to Element #2
"the subject of a vignette"
in a

A collection of botanical items
enhance one another in this vignette.
 Each brings a variation of nature to the group 
creating an interconnected complex nuanced setting.  
The birds relate to the bird's nest on the card and
 to the boxwood suggesting places birds nest, 
one a manmade home and one a natural home. 
The three cards depict foliage in various forms 
that echo the boxwood's foliage.

The lamp's flower-filled cup base reiterates the floral theme
 of the botanical print on the wall and the 
botanical print of a hydrangea in the paperweight, 
all of which relate to the boxwood 
in a way different from the birds or cards.

Take a look at a Pottery Barn image.
Source: Pottery Barn Online Catalog
Beach is obviously the theme.
Simplicity of the grouping
relates to the beach theme;
very few items are needed to make
one happy at the beach.
No worries, no fuss, no hurry...
The lanterns with candles say beach in that
they provide light where there is
no electricity.

The bottles in the lanterns are
subtle reminders of messages
in bottles that wash shore.

Look at the group of items below
 that is filled with unrelated items I LOVE.
Yes, I intentionally worked 
at putting things together that are very unrelated.
A vignette without a theme may have 
beautiful objects in it, but without a connection (theme)
there is no harmony in the vignette.
Non-themed collections 
are only individual items, 
each clamoring for attention, 
but not enhancing the others. 

A grouping with a 
 is greater than its parts.

 To borrow a well-known saying
botanic bleu
Examine a vignette that calls to you.
What is the theme?
Is it possible that you are drawn to the vignette
because you love the theme?

Stay tuned...
The roles of Texture and Color
 are coming in future posts.


Vignette Design Series #1~Composition

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Have you ever wondered 
how stylists create their beautiful 

How do they choose...
Which objects to include?
Where to place them?
Quantity to use?

I've always enjoyed arranging
 and re-arranging 
little groupings of objects. 
Since I began blogging, I have been
studying others' vignettes to 
find ways to improve my own.

 Nope, I am not a licensed interior decorator or
a degreed architect interior designer.
 In another life I may have been.
These thoughts are just things I've
 noticed about vignettes that please my eyes.

Here's where I find (peruse for hours) arrangements that help me.
Source: Pottery Barn Online Catalog and Printed Catalog
Of course, main sources for inspiration are
blogs written by talented and creative decorators...
Take a look at some of their vignettes...

and many, many more...

So, let me share some of 
the things I've learned

Element #1 
"the way in which a whole or mixture is made up"
in a
In this series, composition refers to how a vignette
is physically composed or made.

Composition is the real bones of a vignette;
 without good composition, the most beautiful
 objects are not ready for their close-ups, Mr. DeMille.

Several bloggers recently wrote articles that 
give great tips on composition,
 especially about the 
of items to group together.
Odd numbers of items seem to be more pleasing 
to the eyes than even numbers of items.

Visually, the vignette at my pine chest has 
a total of nine items 
(floral print, topiary, two birds, three cards, paperweight, lamp stack.)
 The lamp on the stack of books works as one unit.

Two birds with the preserved boxwood create 
a group of three.

There are three cards.

Seven items are in the cluster of smaller objects
 that are viewed together. 
 The lamp and print are so different that this small
 visual group is a vignette within a vignette.

Now, look back at the Pottery Barn image.
I'll wait.

There are three lanterns, 
 five items at the table group
 (3 lanterns, table, flower under the table,)
seven major objects in the photo
 (five at the table group and
two vertical posts.)

Composition involves more than numbers...
 of the eyes is also a big component 
of composition.

The whole scene should lead the eyes
 up and back around in a circular fashion.
 This is also one of the basic concepts in 
 printed page layout.
 The eyes should not be led off
 into nothingness, leaving the page, or, 
in our case, leaving the vignette. 

In this vignette, the preserved boxwood leads the eyes up
 to the print, then the lamp draws the eyes down, 
then down to the medium height card, 
which leads down to shortest card of the three, 
then down to the paperweight, 
which leads back up to the short bird, 
then to the taller bird,
 back up to the boxwood.

The eyes never wander outside the vignette;
 they are always pulled back to another feature.

Revisit the Pottery Barn grouping.
Here it is again so you don't have to look for it.
Source:  Pottery Barn Online Catalog
The three lanterns lead
 the eyes upward to the sky, but 
the right-side vertical post draws 
the eyes back down, and
 the curled rope leads the eyes 
down to the potted plant that leads 
the eyes back up to the lowest lantern.
No one is led off looking into the wild blue yonder.

Focal point
is another part of composition.
Those who have studied art 
are very familiar with creating a 
focal point in a painting or lettering 
so that a realistic perspective is created.
Focal points in paintings are often 
known as vanishing points, 
the spot where all the lines of sight 

The focal point in my vignette is 
the old French watercolor postcard.
This focal point is created by the placement of
 the objects on either side of the postcard.
The lamp/book stack and the birds are 
positioned closer to the front edge of the 
pine chest with the postcard
 placed farther back.
 The lines of sight on either side of the card 
converge on the postcard.

Seen from above, I realize I really should 
move the shorter bird a little closer to the 
front edge of the pine chest for 
a more pleasing line of sight 
to the watercolor postcard.

Oh, yes,... we will look at the Pottery Barn image 
to see its focal point 
and to see how the stylist achieved it.
Source:  Pottery Barn Online Catalog
Do you think you see the focal point?
Where do your eyes focus first?

My eyes say the focal point is the 
smallest lantern sitting atop the table.

The lantern is sitting at the corner of the table 
with the corner at the center of the camera lens.
The lines of sight to the lantern follow the edges of the table 
towards the front of the table. 
This is reinforced visually with the 
table leg pointing up to the lantern.

Horizontally, the large lantern is 
behind the smallest lantern and
 the medium lantern is slightly back 
of the smallest lantern.

Source:  Pottery Barn Online Catalog
 More subtle, not perfectly aligned 
lines of sight, is the rope draping 
down to the table from the posts. 
The rope appears to reach its 
lowest point directly 
behind the smallest lantern 
leading the eyes to the  
base of the smallest lantern.

Yes, those Pottery Barn stylists are
real pros!

Movement and focal point are achieved 
by layering objects.
Movement is created by vertical variations.
Focal point can be created by horizontal variations.
Height and depth are two important keys to 
stunning vignettes. 

In summary, 
Composition: Number, Movement, Focal Point
Photo Source: Pottery Barn Online Catalog
What do you think?

Try analyzing a vignette 
that you just LOVE.
See if it has any of these
components and let me know
 what you discover.

Stay tuned...

This is the first in a 
Vignette Design Series.
I hope you will be back for 
articles that will review the 
roles of Theme,
Texture, and Color 
in creating 
vignettes to love.
Please join me at these inspiring sites...


Crowns on the Armoire

Sunday, June 16, 2013

For the past 4 to 5 years, 
have been popping up in 
magazine articles, blog posts, 
do-it-yourself tutorials, and 
beautiful boutiques. 

I fell under their spell and began 
collecting a few, inexpensive reproductions, 
no genuine articles.
None from beauty queen years, 
or inherited heirlooms, or
 antique stores, or  
earthly royal bloodlines. 
As I looked at the top of the armoire 
in the living room over the past few days, I decided it was time 
to update its look with crowns. 
Christmas trees, Santa, and Reindeer 
are out of season. 
(But that doesn't stop me from keeping several 
Christmas decorations out all year...) 

A clean slate, freshly dusted with furniture polish, ready for crowns... 

Crowns...what is it about their allure? 
Little girls wear them while pretending to be princesses...
Real princesses wear them for royal banquets, balls, 
weddings, official portraits, and state ceremonies. 

When not worn, crowns are displayed as part of royal jewels, 
or stored in vaults, or perhaps, in a queen's private safe. 

Reproduction crowns are made to hold candles, or plants, 

or other starry crown votive holders.

Sometimes, crown shapes adorn our Christmas trees or 
hang from tops of lanterns. 

Crown details often reflect its lineage.
The fleur de lis on top and the small stylized fleur de lis 
around the base reflect French royal motifs. 
At once, images of French royal courts, 
chateaux, and gardens leap to mind. 

The crowns sit regally on top of the living room armoire 
even though they are not gold or silver jewel encrusted attire 
of earthly royalty.

For a little while atop the armoire, these crowns bring a smile to my face. 

Seen from various places in the living room, 

the reproduction crowns 

are but a reminder that one day I will be able to say...

 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 
Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, 
the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—
and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
NIV 2 Tim 4:7-8
My good friend, Sarah @ Hyacinths For The Soul    
sent me a link to Decor Steals for Three French Crowns 
on sale June 17, 2013. 
If you are not familiar with Decor Steals, 
you need to know these deals are 
only good for a very short time.
Disclaimer:  I have not received 
compensation from Decor Steals, 
but love these Frenchy crowns at a great price.
Sources for crowns on my armoire...
Large and small starry crowns - Wisteria after-Christmas sale
Blue planter crown - gift
Candle holder - thrift store find

French Country Christmas 2012 Event by Botanic Bleu...
White lantern
White crown hanging ornament
Silver starry votive holder
Fleur de Lis crown
Please join me at these inspiring sites...