Pretty Things Need a Place

I’m definitely an avid lover of small pretty things. I love a combination of vintage, whimsical, industrial, mid-century, who knows what else. With a rather large and evolving collection of pretty objects (don’t you dare call them knickknacks!! Chotchkies?! I’ll never forgive you) I’ve had a lot of fun arranging them in pretty combinations. Here’s my latest attempt to “style” the two bookcases that flank the little sitting area in my living room.

Here are some things I try to keep in mind when I’m arranging:
  • Evenly space color: For example I have two green vases and a green model car. I made sure they are spread out, so it wasn’t like “oh hey, look there how you used that green a lot.” Instead it’s more of “wow, these objects are random, but it all works. It doesn’t seem planned… how did you make it so cohesive!?”
  • Evenly space and mix finishes: I was really conscious of the finishes I had and made sure to mix them up. For example I have two small bugs: a mercury glass grasshopper and a brass ant. I could have put the brass ant next to brass hourglass I have, but that would have been a lot of brass all together. Instead, I spread it out.
  • Rule of threes! I’m sure you’ve heard of this and it is SO HANDY! Now, I think the trick is, three doesn’t mean three objects. It can be more like three heights or three weights. Take the right bookshelf: The top cubby has three items, period. BUT the second cubby has 10 objects (technically). If you count the books and the jar with balls as one thing each it has 4, which still isn’t 3…  BUT, since the large jar/balls is stacked on top of the books and they’re all in the same-ish color scheme it becomes like one bigger object to your eye. Then the hourglass and the grasshopper pop off of it. So, the rule of threes still kind of applies. Hey, you gotta embrace the rules to break them right?
  • Height and weight: This one was trickier for me. Height is height right? But weight? Visual weight?  Whaaaaa….?  Here’s the conclusion I’ve come to…
  1. Color: Neutrals and colors with low contrast are lightweight. Colors that are bright or have high contrast have more visual weight.
  2. Sheen: This one is a bit of a mix for me. Shiny objects look and feel more lightweight, but they also draw your eye in certain contexts. So for this one, I think this is a case by case thing. Most of the time, they’re visually light.
  3. Transparancy:  A really simple one. The more transparent something is, the less visual weight it takes up. Glass jar - very light.  Block of (dark) wood - very heavy.
  4. Size:  This is pretty simple too, if something is tall and wide, it takes up more visual weight. Tall and thin is less. Short and thin is even less. So my brass ant, doesn’t take up a lot of visual weight at all. The big basket behind it takes up a lot more weight.
SO, let’s take a case study in visual weight.  My lightbulb jar and my owl lamp.
  • Color: The Jar has a little color on the top, but it’s not very bright. The owl is dark and has a pop of orange.
  • Sheen: Neither are particularly shiny…. 
  • Transparency: The Jar is 99% transparent. The owl is opaque.  
  • Size:  They’re basically the same size in both height and width. 
The Owl is definitely more visually heavy by color and transparency. Thus, if you put them next to each other (which I wouldn’t suggest because you want to vary your heights) the owl draws your eye and will act as more of a visual center. At least… this is what I’m thinking from my experiments…
Anywho… I for height I tried to make sure that the “pattern” of heights and weights vary from cubby to cubby.
Ok ok enough about staging. I’m probably totally wrong anyway :). But I love it and I guess that’s all that matters. My REAL advice? Check out Emily Henderson’s styling and try to learn by watching. She’s kind of my styling hero and has really encouraged me to mix things up and not worry about matching. I’ve never liked matchy-matchy so her work has been really validating and inspiring.  
I’d also love to hear what you guys think?  Totally wrong?  Vaguely wrong?  Did I blow your mind?  Are you just shocked that I obsessed that much about cubbies?