What is a vignette? Interior designers explain this artful styling concept – and how to create them

Elevate any room by creating thoughtfully styled vignettes

vignettes in room ideas
(Image credit: Kendall Wilkinson Design/photography Paul Dyer, Collected Interiors, Brittney Ferguson Interiors/Michael Hunter)

A vignette is a term used often by interior designers when styling rooms. But what exactly is a vignette, and how can you incorporate vignettes into your own home for added design interest? 

We spoke to various interior designers who explain what vignettes are, as well as share their favorite ways to create vignettes in various different styles and situations. Essentially, vignettes are about creating thoughtful styled moments throughout the home to elevate a space with design interest. 

They're a great way to transform an otherwise empty or purely functional space into an intentionally styled area, so if you want to make your home decor feel more design-led, lean into the designers' expertise below. 

What is a vignette?

Vignettes are artfully styled areas throughout the home. Whether that's on a bookshelf or styled corner of a room, a vignette is a specific arrangement that acts as a standalone portrait to add design interest. 

'I love memorable moments that exist throughout a home, we call these vignettes, and they are always my favorite spaces,' says interior designer Kendall Wilkinson. 'I think of vignettes as a portrait without a defined border, a snapshot if you will, that captures a moment, and I often design this way, with materials, or a piece of art, or a sculptural or essential piece of furniture, and build this story around this small and intimate space.'

Neutral bedroom with purple headboard

(Image credit: Julie Soefer/Marie Flanigan)

Interior designer Meredith Owen of Meredith Owen Interiors adds that vignettes not only elevate a room with design interest, but they allow personality to be added. 'A vignette is a small, curated arrangement or display of objects that tell a story, evoke a mood, or showcase a particular theme or style. Vignettes are commonly used in interior design to add visual interest, personality, and depth to a space. They can be found on various surfaces throughout the home, such as coffee tables, console tables, bookshelves, mantel decor, and countertops.'

Vignettes can be created in pretty much any area of the home. You can get creative by considering how you can elevate an otherwise pared-back space by transforming it into a vignette with carefully arranged items. When you do so, it's important to consider how it looks not only close up but in the room as a whole.

Interior designer Melissa Read, creative director at Studio Burntwood adds: 'Particularly in larger spaces, like a bookshelf, it is imperative to step back and consider the styling as a whole, being mindful of color, texture and proportions – striking the right balance across the shelves ensures a cohesive feel.'

8 ways to create vignettes throughout the home

Below, we've rounded up eight of interior designers' favorite ways to create vignettes. From coffee table decor to creating a standout seating area, there are lots of ideas here to spark inspiration for your own styled areas and displays. 

1. Highlight a standout piece of furniture

living room corner with cream chair and fireplace with artwork

(Image credit: Kendall Wilkinson Design, photography Paul Dyer)

One way to approach creating a vignette is to focus on one standout furniture piece that you want to highlight in your home. Whether that be a sentimental piece of vintage furniture or a colorful item, making this the focal point will really let it stand out.

Kendall Wilkinson explains how she created a thoughtful vignette pictured above, centered around a handmade chair that has historic and sentimental value: 'After a light restoration and new fabric, I created this moment, this magical vignette in my living room that highlights and frames this extraordinary chair and its history with cherished art, jewel-like light fixtures, and original architectural moldings and details all white-washed to brighten the space.'

2. Wallpaper the back of a bookcase

bookcase with wallpapered back

(Image credit: Betsy Wentz Interior Design)

Bookshelves are having a moment, thanks to the viral bookshelf wealth trend. But beyond the current craze of letting books add personality to a space, you can also use bookshelves to create vignettes. Consider adding wallpaper to the back of a bookcase to transform it into a stylish area of the home, taking your bookcase from being a purely functional area to one that reflects your interior design style

'You can add visual interest to the large amount of blank space and create the perfect backdrop for a vignette by wallpapering behind a bookcase,' explains interior designer Betsy Wentz, who designed the above space. 'Layer in accessories, books, and greenery in a similar color palette to make your bookcase a design moment.'

3. Incorporate personal decor items

Living room detail with fitted light blue-gray cabinet in alcove, each shelf decorated with colorful objects and accessories.

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

'Artifacts, trinkets, and all kinds of  “object de art” are some of my favorite relics to display in a home,' says Miranda Cullen, founder and principal designer at Inside Stories. 'For smaller items, a collection can sit nicely on a bookshelf, dresser or nightstand, or anything with a flat surface! These types of accessories create unique collections around the house that represent personal stories about life's adventures. We love to put these personal touches into all of our projects because it makes a space feel more specific, distinctive, and homey in a special way.'

'You can aim to make separate pieces cohesive, but I say the best collections are the ones that are all unique and then combine to create an amazing and eclectic vignette. The look you’re going for is cohesive, not cluttered, so opt for pieces with similar characteristics or color schemes to bring home.'

4. Maintain a sense of balance

living area with sofa and sidetable with lamp and art on walls with textured wallpaper

(Image credit: Luke White)

While vignettes are a great opportunity to display a wide range of meaningful decorative pieces, it's also important to maintain a sense of balance to ensure the overall look appears intentional rather than cluttered. 

Decide on which items you want to center your vignette around and then carefully incorporate extra pieces, but refrain from adding so many pieces that it ends up losing its focal point. 'I’d recommend choosing items with purpose that are meaningful and visually appealing to display,' suggests Meredith Owen. 'Avoid overcrowding and give items some breathing room. Layer small items in front of taller items to create depth and balance.'

5. Create a design-led seating area

living room corner with wooden chair

(Image credit: Element Design Network)

A vignette can be created with a simple seating area by pairing other decor items alongside a chair to create a separate moment. Not only does this serve as a practical space, but it can elevate a living room or bedroom with design interest. 

'I love to create an unexpected seating moment,' says Laura Chappetto, owner and lead designer at Element Design Network. 'Everyone expects there to be a sofa and chairs in a living room facing the TV. But what about placing a chair strategically in a room facing the other direction? Here I have an original mid-century armchair next to the fireplace and TV. While you expect to have furniture facing this direction, you may not think this particular placement could work but instead, it showcases the chair. Artwork, coffee table books, a sculpture, and a plant in the background frame this vignette to perfection.'

6. Create vignettes on a coffee table

living room white white coffee table with vase of flowers and books

(Image credit: Marie Flanigan Interiors/Photography Julie Soefer)

A coffee table presents a natural opportunity to create a vignette. By styling both practical and decorative items into different groupings, you will allow this space to appear considered, rather than cluttered. Trays are a great way to order and group a coffee table, allowing you to store items such as remote controls whilst decorative items, such as a vase of flowers elevate the space into a design-led moment. 

Melissa Read also recommends stacking books as a way to create different heights in a vignette on a surface, ensuring it doesn't look flat. 'To add dimension, laying books flat with an item on top can create various heights that can be crucial when styling.'

7. Keep it functional

staircase with chest of drawers

(Image credit: Collected Interiors)

Vignettes don't have to be solely for aesthetics. They're also a great way to elevate a functional space by styling items around a practical piece of furniture used for storage.

'We love creating vignettes that not only look beautiful but are also functional too,' says designer Ashley Macuga of Collected Interiors. 'The idea isn't to fill space just to fill space but to add purpose as well as style. A staircase of photographs that get rotated quarterly with a family’s most prideful moments. A chest styled with a statement lamp that lights up a thoroughfare during the evening.'

8. Get creative for a unique display

desk with orange seating and artwork

(Image credit: Brittney Ferguson Interiors, Michael Hunter)

A vignette allows you to have fun with your home decor and channel your creativity. See them as an opportunity to decorate with items that bring you joy, whether that's through bold color trends, decorating with patterns, or styling playful decorative objects. There are no specific rules to follow with a vignette, so as long as you love it, get creative with your displays and you'll be sure to add interest to your home. 

'Don’t let it intimidate you,' says interior designer Brittney Ferguson. 'I love stacking books, adding a short bowl or candle, something tall like a picture frame or art, and a flower arrangement.'

Styling vignettes in your home is a simple way to ensure your space feels design-led and curated. There are endless opportunities to create vignettes, but as a starting point, consider what areas of your home naturally lend themselves to becoming their own styled moments. 

Emily Moorman
News Writer

Emily Moorman is a News Writer at Homes & Gardens, working across a range of topics spanning interiors, celebrity and emerging trends. With a background in the fashion industry, Emily is well-versed in the world of design and trend cycles. Her undergraduate degree was in Fashion Communication and Promotion which she studied at Norwich University of The Arts, specialising in writing and digital communications.