Vignette decor — a compendium of objects

Style compelling vignette decor with evocative objects that tell your story. Curate vignettes from the palette of your past, your passions, and your fleeting interests. Fall in love with the silhouettes, colors, and textures of the things in your home, and let them speak to one another in a vignette.

Sense and sensibility in vignette decor

Banish clutter by grouping your objects into meaningful visual vignettes that say something. Learn how to conjure a vignette by reading: How to vignette: the art of making spectacular visual statements with your stuff. Here is a living, growing, soon-to-be-bursting list of items that would be gorgeous in vignettes.

Past perfecto = antiques in vignette decor

Silver bowl with lid for vignette decor
Found silver bowl with lid.  The tarnished patina of something genuinely old is incomparable in vignette decor.  Photo by Kelly Shea Ellyn.

Vintage radios, hats on hat stands, cigar boxes, record albums, clocks, telephones, cameras, typewriters, tarnished silver table service, trophies, pool balls, bacci balls, croquet balls, baseballs, wooden bowling pins, bird cages, barometers, suitcases, globes, eye glasses, shutters, telescopes, kaleidescopes, typesetter boxes, bells, board games, iron banks, quirky dolls.

World view = art in vignette decor

Pictures, framed or unframed, hung, leaning, or suspended, such as elevated fine art paintings, charmingly amateur paintings, arresting black and white photographs, vintage or not, crisp color photographs, thoughtful drawings, intricate etchings, intriguing portraits, depth-filled landscapes, quiet still lifes, delightful children’s art work, haunting silhouettes, poignant framed needlepoint.

Cocktails concocted = bar ware in vignette decor

Parisian bottle opener for vignette decor
Reproduction of a bottle opener found in a Paris bistro. Original produced around 1900. Reproduction purchased at Design Toscano. This saucy lady will put a bit of vavoom into your vignette decor. Photo by Kelly Shea Ellyn.

Art deco cocktail shakers, cut crystal wine carafes, wine bottles with labels either artistic or amusing (e.g. “Seven Deadly Zins”), vintage seltzer siphon, champagne bucket, glass bottles of mineral water such as Perrier, Pellets grino, or Ty Nant.

Quiet pleasure = books in vignette decor

Manners, Culture, and Dress vintage book for vignette decor
Manners, Culture, and Dress by Richard A. Wells, A.M., published 1893. A gift from my mother. Antique books are a rich visual experience. They are also quite practical for creating levels in vignette decor. Photo by Kelly Shea Ellyn.

Handsome old books with patina and textural cloth bindings in muted colors; Victorian photo albums covered in dusty old velvet; books with gold embossed covers; whimsical old children’s books; newer glossy books with or without their paper covers, with interesting titles made in bold fonts; box sets, books that reference something personal, like furniture or goats or food porn or whatever you’re into.

Likeness strikes = figurines in vignette decor

Discreet deer for vignette decor
Oxidized brass deer snatched from my boyfriend’s house. Animal figures add a whimsical quality to any vignette decor. They observe constantly, yet politely refrain from smart alecky comments. Photo by Kelly Shea Ellyn.

Animals such as dogs, deer, bear, foxes, horses, and other animals; people doing interesting things; body parts such as busts, hands, ears, and skulls; faux animal heads; religious figures such as The Madonna, Buddha, Ganesh, Saint Francis.

Integrity distilled = handmade things in vignette decor

Weed pot and pestle for vignette decor
Weed pot turned by Laurie Halbritter. Pestle found among the things of Terry Dodd. Wooden objects can breath organic integrity into vignette decor. Photo by Kelly Shea Ellyn.

Carved wooden sculptures, wooden tools, or wooden toys, either vintage or made by modern day artisans; cutting boards, either old and patina-ed or new and handmade with gorgeous woods in unexpected shapes; trays, spheres, pyramids, or obelisks in marble or onyx; baskets, duck decoys,

Artistic utilitarian = kitchenesque things in vignette decor

Fiestaware disc pitcher for vignette decor
Fiestaware disc pitcher by Homer Laughlin. Art Deco lines articulate the cool panache of a bygone era. It happily hogs the spotlight in chic kitchen vignette decor. Photo by Kelly Shea Ellyn.

Colorful Fiestaware pitchers or salt shakers, jadite cups, character teapots, oddball old toasters, beautifully shaped kettles, art deco pitchers, classic farmhouse pitchers, spatterware, antique utensils, copper molds, iron molds, Bakelite flatware, bamboo handled flatware, tortoise handled flatware, chinoiserie servingware, teacups.

Illumination fascination = lighting in vignette decor

Lamp for vignette decor
Mid-century glass lamp with floating white flowers. Shade found in resale shop. Ugly shades offend my eyes and are prohibited from my space. This unusual lamp is worthy of feminine console table vignette decor. Photo by Kelly Shea Ellyn.

Ginger jar chinoiserie lamps, bare-bulbed lamps showing off edison bulbs, industrial task lamps, curvy Art Nouveau lamps, glamorous Art Decor lamps, ornate Victorian lamps, spare mid-century lamps, edgy modern scandinavian type lamps, groovy 1970’s lamps, lava lights, fairy lights, Italian lights; candlesticks in either pairs or odd numbers, candleabras, devotional candles, pillar candles, beeswax tapers, grouping of extra slender tapers in multiple colors, Kosta Boda snowball candleholders with tea lights, kerosene lamps, camping lanterns, colonial lanterns.

Elemental hammersmithing = metal in vignette decor

Indian brass mirror for vignette decor
Brass mirror from India. Purchased at World Market. Metal grounds vignette decor in elemental earthiness. Image by Kelly Shea Ellyn.

Door knobs, door knockers, keys, switch plates, bricks or rocks coated with gold, silver, or copper metallic paint, vintage hand tools, aged fans, gears, propellers, pulleys, chains, brass elephants from India.

Earth tones = organics in vignette decor

Succulents for vignette decor
Dish of succulents. Bowl from Pier 1. Pretty colors and interesting shapes make succulents strangely intriguing additions to vignette decor. Styling and photo by Kelly Shea Ellyn.

Silver bowls of white roses; tall, linear vases of pussy willows or blossoming apple tree branches; dishes or topiary of sculptural succulents; terrarium, classic European topiary; bare branches, either graceful or jagged; ethereal grayish driftwood, chunks of wood showing the grain, a scrap of reclaimed wood, bamboo; a single large shell such as a conch, or a collection of shells; geodes and crystals — very large ones can be breathtaking, or group multiple small ones in a meaningful way; malachite, tourmeline, river rocks or field stones; jars of pebbles or bowls of quartz; petrified things such as prehistoric creatures and dinosaur poop; insects in amber, faux butterflies, bird nests, feathers, naturally shed antlers, pine cones.

Potting wheel poetry = pots in vignette decor

Mccoy Floraline pot for vignette decor
McCoy Floraline planter. Twentieth-century verve can work beautifully in twenty-first century vignette decor, especially if you like little ears on your pots. Photo by Kelly Shea Ellyn.

Floor vases made by Roseville or Rookwood; Native American, Mexican, or Portuguese pots; bowls crafted by a local pottery in your region; tiles such as those from Italy or Morroco; Arts and Crafts period tiles such as Rookwood; terra cotta pots, Chinese Foo dogs, ceramic fruit and vegetables.

Refracted diamonds = reflective objects in vignette decor

Snowball and star for vignette decor
Kosta Boda snowball tea light holder and found star taper holder. Vignette decor scintillates when enlivened by candlelit crystal. Photo by Kelly Shea Ellyn.

Glass jars, modern glazed ceramic jars, bell jars, depression glass, carnival glass, Tiffany glass, mercury glass, blown glass, stained glass, and cut crystal glasses or bowls; glass jars filled with sea glass, pearls, or costume jewelry; antique bottles in jewel tones; Moravian mirrored stars; Art Nouveau mirrors; windows gleaned from architectural salvage; crystal balls; shiny sterling silver or plated silver bowls; magnifying glasses, Tibetan singing bowls, perfume bottles, glass paperweights.

Visual inhibition = sculpture in vignette decor

Venus figurine for vignette decor
Venus sculpture from Italy. Found in resale shop. Venus infuses vignette decor with fluttering emotion as she has done for centuries. Photo by Kelly Shea Ellyn.

Statues of classical greek gods, statues of animals like whippets, large sculptures of wings, garden statues, busts of famous people like Beethoven or Napoleon, modern abstract sculpture with fascinating shapes.

Circular energy = spheres in vignette decor

Green sphere for vignette decor
Mineral sphere from Black Market in Gurnee, Illinois. Round things energize vignette decor. The mineral nature of this sphere is both earthy and ethereal. Photo by Kelly Shea Ellyn.

Spheres, crystal balls, feathered balls, knotted balls, sun dials, gears, clocks, decorative plates on stands.

Luminous looms = textiles in vignette decor

Kilim for vignette decor
Kilim from Morocco. Purchased online. Hand-made textiles add soul to vignettes in this age of sad, mass-produced stuff. Photo by Kelly Shea Ellyn.

Tapestries, wall hangings such as faux fur or macrame, fabric with historical significance, fabric created by a designer you deeply admire, gorgeous fringed shawls, textural wool scarves, kilims, kitchen linens, dining linens, feed sacks, juju hats.

Tactile beguiles = texture in vignette decor

Yarn in vase for vignette decor
Yarn in a glass vase. Using common objects in vignette decor somehow elevates the ordinary to art. Photo by Kelly Shea Ellyn.

Partissementerie, knotted rope, balls of yarn, jars of string.

Holding within = vessels in vignette decor

Tagine for vignette decor
Moroccan-style tagine from Pottery Barn. Tagines are beautiful in many contexts, but lend themselves especially well to primitive, modern, and Boho vignette decor. Photo by Kelly Shea Ellyn.

Classically shaped vases, mid-century modern vessels made by McCoy, ewers made by Haeger, modern vessels in brash, unexpected shapes, Morrocan tagines, bejeweled goblets, colorful wine glasses, pewter mugs, copper mugs, battered tin cups, bowls of personality.

Oddities & endlings = unclassified objects in vignette decor

Book ends, crowns, scepters, magic wands, cd box sets, Celtic crosses.

A honeydew, if you choose

Please comment with your ideas for items to add to the compendium!  I hope for this compendium to someday bulge with thoughtful objects, creative suggestions, and bizarre notions.

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Kelly Ellyn

I am a writer and blogger about homestyling in particular, and lifestyling in general. I come from a background of corporate writing, music, and making my home a beloved nest in which I feel empowered, safe, creative, and inspired.

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