Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Up close: vignettes

Arranging items on surfaces, such as console tables, dressers, and nightstands, is a great way to display favored belongings and add interest to a room, but I also see it as a chance for organization as well. Most people live with limited amounts of space, and covering usable space with unusable items is not ideal. I think there can be a balance of design and function, though.

Creating spaces that serve a purpose while looking stylish can be as easy as stashing mail or remote controls in decorative boxes or turning a console table into a bar area. The following photos show a range of stylized tabletops that provide beauty and function to the spaces they inhabit.

 Ashley Whittaker makes use of this pedestal table in a foyer to display a collection of books, but, if you look closely, you will also see it is a place to toss keys and phones when arriving home.

In this foyer, Eric Cohler uses a console table to show off an interesting sculpture and photograph, while a basket (used for stashing dirty boots) hides below.

Lawrence Rizkowsky also uses a basket (which I love for their texture) to stash items, in this case a collection of liquor bottles, shakers, and glassware.

This glitzy tabletop, styled by Madeline Stuart, serves as a showcase for a collection of crystal and silver serveware. I think it's great when people put out and even use their "good" china, crystal, etc. My mom has a wonderful collection of Waterford wine glasses that we use all the time. "Why not?", she says. "That's what they're meant for!"

In some cases, small or empty spaces are a great place to create a vignette. Here, Kathryn Ireland brings texture and life to a would-be unused space by placing plants, pictures, and a lamp on a table covered in decorative paint. Just think how less interesting the space would be if she had left the mirror as the only adornment between the windows!

It seems like there is never enough storage in the bathroom and, although this is a large one, Michael S. Smith still makes efficient use of the space by storing extra towels and other necessities on a beautiful etagere.

Nightstands always end up hosting a myriad of items, and Amanda Nisbet cleverly chooses one with three tiers to handle this task. However, she doesn't stop there; she also adds colorful boxes and bowls to artfully stash any unsightly clutter.

In the country home of fashion designers Mark Badgley and James Mischka (of Badgley Mischka, if you hadn't guessed), an already useful chest of drawers gets dressed up with an assortment of shimmering accessories and a simple oil painting.

In my own bedroom, found, purchased, and hand-me-down items congregate on a tall dresser, situated against the pale pink walls of the room. Silver drink stirrers in an antique tea cup as well as shell and coral pieces (discovered on a North Carolina beach) find a home together below an oil painting by my father.

The space is not for decorative purposes only, though. The mirrored box holds large-scale jewelry items (such as cuffs, cocktail rings, etc), while the small, lavender box serves as my travel case.

Any surface can easily become a display for pretty things; making it functional is the challenge. However, I think these pictures have shown what a lovely challenge that can be!

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