While it's not difficult, there is a bit of an art to it. It all comes down to balance, scale and composition.
Here are some tips for arranging items and creating vignettes in your home so they look pleasing to the eye.
Whether it's a sofa table, a coffee table, a bookcase or a mantle, there are certain things you can do with surface displays (as opposed to wall displays) that will make them look great.
- Group items together. Rather than have a bunch of items randomly placed on a table or shelf, create groupings. It reduces the cluttered look and makes it look more grounded.
- Odds are usually better than evens. Placing similar objects together in a group of three usually works better than grouping them in pairs.
- When displaying only a few objects make sure they are in keeping with the overall style of the room.
- Layer items in front of one another to create depth in displays and vignettes. Unlike a photograph, people won't always be looking at the display straight on. Items in the foreground should overlap those in the background.
- Make some of your displays eclectic. Random items look great together as long as there is enough variety to keep in interesting and engaging. Two mismatched picture frames might not look great together, but a dozen will look fantastic.
- When creating a display on a long table or mantle you can make it look formal by placing matching items on each end (lamps, candlesticks, vases, etc.).
- Create some balance in your vignettes – but remember that balance doesn't have to mean matching. A few lightweight items on one side of a mantel or table can be balanced with a larger or heavier item on the other.
- When trying to do this take a look at some design magazines and photos on the Internet. When it comes to professional design photos it's guaranteed that every single photo has been professionally styled. Look at the displays and study what the stylist has done. Not how many items are on the table, how they're arranged, and what kinds of colors and styles are used.
Much like arranging table displays, arranging art takes a little practice. The best ways to do it are to start by placing your pieces of art on the floor and creating a pleasing arrangement. If that doesn't work for you, try using some removable sticky hooks (like those made by 3M) to try out different arrangements on the wall.
- When hanging several pieces together treat them all as one unit. For instance, if you were hanging a single piece over a sofa you likely wouldn't want it to extend past each side of the sofa. With several pieces you would follow the same rule. If the center point of a single piece is hung at eye level, then the center point of an arrangement of several pieces would also be at eye level.
- In a grouping of art, each piece should be placed approximately two inches from the one next to, above, and below it.
- Mix large and small pieces together. Do not hang a bunch of large pieces together on one wall and a bunch of small pieces together on another. If you do, one wall will look very heavy while the other looks too light. The key is to create balance. The same rule applies to frames. Mix styles and colors to create visual balance.
Despite the fact that we talk about rules, the most important thing to do is to have fun with it and don't take it too seriously. The reason prop stylist's enjoy their work so much is because they get to play around with different items and different arrangements until they get it just the way they want. In your home it should be the same way. Keep trying until it looks good to you.
Remember also that nothing is set in stone. If you get bored with a particular look clear the surface and start again. Rearranging your bookcase or mantel is a great way to use some creative energy without spending a penny.