This interior-designer-approved vignette formula will transform under-used corners in an instant

This chair + lamp + table vignette hack is the key to achieving a more balanced, more functional, and more thoughtful moment in your living space

chair lamp table vignette hack
(Image credit: Heidi Caillier Design / Photography photography Haris Kenjar)

For the most part, interior design looks rather complicated from the outside. There are a lot of rules; ranging from the color wheel to kitchen triangles and confusing principles like 'feng shui', 'trompe l’oeil', and a personal favorite: 'vignettes'. But ultimately, it's really quite simple: design a home with comfort, function, and you in mind.

So while you might be wondering, what is a vignette (it's essentially just a fancy term to describe artfully styled areas in the home), London-based interior designer Rebecca Constable has taken to her Instagram with an easy-to-implement design formula that works like this: wherever you have a chair, you need to place a table and a lamp beside it to create a thoughtful vignette.

And it's as simple as that. So how does this principle apply to your own living room ideas? Let's get into it.

While this isn't a ground-breaking concept, sometimes it's good to strip all the hard and fast rules back and deliver some designer-approved advice to help steer you in a super simple direction. 

'When designing a space, if you follow this one principle you can’t go too wrong,' explains Rebecca. 'Wherever you have a chair you need a table, somewhere within arms reach to pop your drink and some nibbles, and wherever you have a table you need a lamp. Soft, warm lighting so you can still see what you’re doing – but you don’t feel like you’re in a dentist’s waiting room.'

See it as design maths: Chair + Lamp + Table.

small living room with chocolate brown couch and large blue wall art canvas

(Image credit: Cathy Nordstrom / Photographer Fanny Radvik)

And the great part is, it's just not confined to your living room. 'The chair-table-lamp principle is so easy to apply when designing a room,' Rebecca tells H&G. 'It’s relevant to any room in your home regardless of your style or taste.' 

Of course, this makes the most sense in your living room layout. You will already have some comfy seating options for yourself and any guests, so the idea is you don't have to go out and buy a whole load of new pieces, but can rearrange a few items to follow suit.

In your kitchen, for example, where you might have a little dedicated cafe corner or couch, a small bistro table is going to be a welcome addition to your morning coffee or evening glass of wine. And if you're wondering, should you put a couch in the kitchen? The answer is yes. 

'The idea is that wherever you have a chair, be that a sofa, an armchair, or an occasional seat, you should also have a table,' says Rebecca. 'Somewhere within easy reach to put down your drink.' 

'This could range from anything from a substantial side table to a small antique stool. If you don’t have space next to your seating then a little cocktail table in front of a chair works perfectly, and can be moved around where needed.'

yellow armchair with a side table, gallery wall of art and a wall sconce

(Image credit: Studio Atkinson)

It's essentially the 'every seat should have a surface layout rule', but with a little added ambiance. 

'Wherever you have a table you should also have a lamp,' continues Rebecca. 'This could be any kind of lighting, a wall sconce, table lamp, or floor lamp.'

'The key is that your light source does not come from a main light in the center of the room, but is nearby, allowing you to easily read or work and helping create a cozy atmosphere. If you don’t have a socket near your chair, then a rechargeable lamp is a great option,' she advises.

'You can design the most beautiful and visually interesting space, but if it doesn’t work practically for you on a day-to-day basis then what’s the point? Follow this principle and you’ll create a room that is not only wonderfully comfortable and practical to live in but always ready to host friends and family.'

couch in a living room with a large piece of wall art and side table with lamp

(Image credit: Chused & Co / Photography Jeff Holt)

Simply put, it's a clever take on zoning that allows you to make the most out of dead spaces next to your couch or chair, gives every place to perch its own surface, and implements task lighting so you can avoid the big light. 

This, in turn, creates a much more designed feeling to your space that feels like every need is considered.

Interior designer Kathy Kuo is also a fan of the idea. 'A chic chair, lamp, and table are really all you need to create a versatile styled space that's perfect for reading, catching up on work with a laptop or tablet, or enjoying your favorite beverage,' she says.

'I love using this time-tested design vignette formula on unused spaces and tucked away corners so that you really make the most out of your square footage.' Which is of course great for small rooms where you want to maximize every inch of space, and avoid common living room design mistakes.

boucle chair next to a wooden sideboard filled with large art and a rattan floor lamp

(Image credit: Studio Duggan)

'This is the ultimate solution for a reading nook or bare corner with too much space,' adds Nastassja Bowman, interior designer at Kristen Elizabeth Design. 'Grouping in threes is always a great choice when it comes to the reading corner.'

The rule of three is another design principle that helps you when styling up your home, and a likely birthplace for the chair-lamp-table hack. Why do threes work so well together? It's all about being eye-catching, creating a dynamic shape, and a sense of balance. In other words, it's got the winning edge over pairs and helps you to achieve a curated look, alongside being super practical. 

Now, your lamp or light source isn't going to be the only item set atop the table. So be sure to consider the harmony of those decorative objects like a vase of flowers, a candle, or stack of magazines – and always leave plenty of space to set down a mug.

Creating vignettes with a chair, lamp, and table is a simple yet effective way to style up an unused corner and give it a sense of design and purpose. This grouping doesn't require a lot of space, or even new items, and simply encourages you to reconfigure the layout of your furniture pieces to perfect the art of relaxing and hosting.

Charlotte Olby
Content Editor

Charlotte is content editor at Homes and Gardens, having joined the team the week before Christmas 2023. Following a 5 year career in Fashion, she found herself working at many women's glossy magazines including: Grazia, Stylist and Hello and most recently working as Interiors Editor for British heritage department store Liberty. Her role at H&G fuses her love of style with Charlotte's passion for interior design, and she is currently undergoing her second home renovation in Surrey - you can follow her journey over on @olbyhome