Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bookcase Displays and Vignettes

I absolutely LOVED hearing all the shoe tales from yesterday's post. Ya'll cracked me up with all the shoe love. Funny how we all remember so many details about those special shoes we loved and had-to have, which goes to show that we women sure can bond over our shoes, can't we?

One more thing, if you leave me a question in the comments, sometimes I forget to go back and answer it. I have my comments moderated for anything older than 2 days, so that I can see them all and keep up with them. I read every single comment that ya'll leave! So, if you ask a question and I don't get back to you on your blog, please email me and I'll be happy to answer. Some leave questions and they don't have a blog or a way for me to contact them, so that gets hard too. I don't mind the emails, I can shoot off a quick reply.

By popular request, I’m doing a post all about bookcases and vignettes around the house. Now mind you, I am totally not an expert on all of this. I just do what I like and play with things until they look good to me. I don’t particularly follow “design principles” or go by the rules. You're heard me say it many times. I’m not a minimalist and that is totally true, as I enjoy my collections and those things that surround me and make me smile.

But, I’ll give you all a few pointers of things that I have learned. It’s often said that things should be grouped in odd numbers and that’s one thing that does seem to consistently work for pleasing displays. I know everyone doesn’t like as much stuff as I do and that my house would be considered cluttered by many, but that’s OK. I do what I like. This is the bookcase in my blue guestroom and I’ve filled it up with all sorts of little treasures that I’ve found in my hunts. Most of this came from yardsales or were gifts or things that I’ve had a long time. I’ve got plenty of books that I use stacked on these shelves and most of them I’ve read. I sort of grouped some like things together with the finials on the right and then 3 items on the left with fake grass in the middle. No rhyme or reason, really just what is pleasing to my eye. Might not be pleasing to anyone else. The small round pottery piece to the left was a gift from a friend and the redhaired girl was a blog giveaway prize I won in the last couple of years, a handpainted tile.


Lots of bunnies here, and these were found at yardsales. I hung that little bunny plaque right up on the beadboard and sort of kept the 3 grouping thing going here. Added the small aqua jar that I just found here too. The yellow pottery piece on the left I found at an antique store and I love the shape of it. All those shells there were found by me while beach-combing in Florida.


More books, urn, armillary, and a nice white piece of coral (a lucky yardsale find for $3), all of this found at yardsales, except the framed print. The print I bought from Kari and Kjisa, since I couldn’t resist that cute bunny and it's hanging on the beadboard on a little nail.


On another shelf, this is a group of 3 again, with an iron bowl and fruit made out of beans & seeds (don't even remember where I got those), bunny planter, and a small bunny oil (a Tuesday AM find) on a bamboo easel. One thing that I love to do is vary the heights of things. That always adds more interest to groupings. If everything is the same height, it can be pretty boring, so keep that in mind. Vary those heights. And layering is always something I love to do. It adds dimension to bookshelves and keeps it fun to look at.


Here on the night table, I have the tall lamp, plus a dried arrangement, so I kept the middle part lower with the clock sitting on books and a small vintage oil painting hanging on the wall behind. This is what I mean about layering, adding that little special something on the wall.


In my laundry room, this shelf on the wall holds a symmetrical arrangement which is always a safe way to go. The large birdcage in the middle, flanked by the 2 small topiaries and then 2 different birdhouses on either end. Interesting, but not boring and the middle piece is the tallest.


Dining room table centerpiece. Again, a group of 3 things. Largest and tallest in the middle with the cloche sitting on a cake plate and flanked by 2 dark wooden candlesticks. Simple, but pretty.


My foyer table gets changed quite a bit, but I always go back to 3 big things on here and I like that the best for impact. I sometimes do some smaller things seasonally, but to me the tall something in the middle with the lamp and statue on either side is a good balance. The middle urn gets changed out periodically for another one too.


Here on the kitchen shelf, I’ve just filled this up with all my green Bordallo pottery and it’s sort of staggered in height to keep it interesting. The small leaf plate is hanging up on the wall with a plate hanger. I love to do that sort of thing whether it’s in a bookcase or shelf.


My fireplace mantel is totally symmetrical, with the large painting, 3 pears centered and the fleur de lis sconces on either side. I should play around with this more, but I sort of like it simple. You can see I found a place for those recent yardsale finds of the candle sconces.Had to move another pair to make room for these.

So, to sum up doing vignettes and bookcases, here's what has worked for me:

  • Keep in mind that odd numbers work well for displaying things, think in groups of 3’s or 5’s when you put items together.
  • Sometimes displaying a collection of all one thing is the way to go, like my white dish collection in the diningroom. Since it’s all the same color, that makes it more interesting than if I threw in other patterns or colors.
  • Vary the heights when you are displaying things. If you line all your items up on the fireplace like little soldiers, that will not be a good look. Nor is putting a bunch of tiny little things on the mantel either. They will just get lost and it's not pretty! This is probably one of the most common mistakes I see that a lot of girls do.
  • Go for bigger and fewer items when you’re working on a table or coffee table. (not that I follow this suggestion all the time either, but I try)
  • Adding books or some sort of riser is a good way to add some height to an object when you need it. I love those small plaster pedestals for that sort of thing and have a few of those and look out at yardsales for things like that.
  • Use what you love, don’t just buy something because it is trendy. (and yes, I don’t always follow that either) :)

One thing that I’m working on doing is getting rid of the cheapie accessories that I’ve collected. I’m really, really tired of the Made in China mass-produced stuff and I’m on a mission to rid my house of it. I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it. No more resin and cheap China things will come in here. I’d much rather look for American vintage or European vintage things to bring in and get rid of the other stuff. So, I’ve got a ways to go, but I just might have to do another yardsale this fall. I’ve also gotten rid of about half of my fake plants. Not all, but many of them are gone and I’d love to use mostly real, since I’ve always loved real plants so much. It really isn’t that hard to take care of them and I have a lot already.

I’ve noticed that dishes made in China are not nearly as durable as Italian and Portugal made china pieces are. There’s a world of difference in the quality, so no more of those either.

So, I hope you got a little bit of good and useful information with this hodge-podge of stuff I’ve shared. Like I said, I’m totally not an expert, but don’t mind sharing what I do and how I do it and hope it will benefit all of you too.


A big thank you to Artie, at Color Outside the Lines, for sending me this Martha book, Tag Sales & Flea Markets! Hmmm, wonder how he knew? :) Very nice surprise after I sent him something, but totally did not expect this at all. So, thank you Artie! I’ll really enjoy adding this book to my collection.

Check out my newest sponsor, Her Southern Charm (click on the sidebar link). We'll be having a fun giveaway next week for a fabulous piece of jewelry, the Aniston singles necklace. It's adorable! Go and have a preview and don't miss the giveaway coming up next week.

Don't miss both giveaways in the 2 posts below! You will not want to miss out on possibly winning one of those.

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45 friends stopped by:

Cheri Peoples said...

Rhoda -- you have soooo many beautiful treasures. I always love looking at all the little details.


MiriamR said...

Hi Rhonda, I was just wondering where you get your Damask material? You had a lamp shade in one of your pictures with a Damask patterned lamp shade and I can't seem to find the same kind of material.


Tracy @ comfortandluxury said...

Love your vignettes! They're so personal and pretty. And never apologize for having "too much stuff"... there's so much pretty stuff in the world to be had, why not surround yourself with as much as makes you happy?!

Tracy @ comfortandluxury said...

PS: That bunny oil on the bamboo stand? So great. If on the teeny-tiniest chance it goes out to the yard sale, give me a call. :)

Jen R. said...

Love your vignettes.. I just posted on the bead board wall paper, thanks for the info... ; Jen

Blondie's Journal said...


This post is very informative and timely. I am with you on ridding of all the "impulse" buying of not so well made items from China as well as yard sale items I bought to fill up space when we first bought our Lakehouse (that is why I am starting from scratch there).

I found the tips for decorating your mantle interesting, but you said that you were still working on it. I feel the same way too. It is such a focal point in my living room and I just can't seem to get it "right"!! I think someone should have a "Mantle Party" (Not me!!!) before the holidays. The ideas and inspirations would be incredible...

Thanks again for all your decorating tips. You are a doll, my fellow blonde! ;-)


Celeste Lux said...

I just found your blog from . I am already planning to borrow several ideas here. I love the color pallet in your house...I'll be barrowing that too! I especially like your tut on staining your handrail. I have some mission furniture that needs both re-upholstering and re-finnishing. It's currently a medium oak, but I would like it to be darker and richer---you post imspired me. I'll let you know if I actually go throught with it. Keep on blogging!

donette said...

I am so excited to have found your blog. You are so very helpful and are so very very talented as a decorator. Loved you advice about bookshelves, etc. I covered the back splash in my kitchen with the bead board wallpaper that you used. I ordered it from Amazon, and got two double rolls for five dollars. It was a piece of cake thanks to your instructions and such. What a difference it makes. Many thanks..

NicNacManiac said...

Such an eye for it!! Love the hardcover books without the sleeves and the beautiful green platters!!

Mrs. Limestone said...

Oh, I love, love, love, love that female bust you have!! Where did you find something so gorgeous but more importantly, where can I find one?

Southern Fried Gal said...

Yay! I have a post coming out later today with great ideas on shelves. I'm so excited to add this as a resource as I am in the middle of restyling my built-ins. Thank you!

anhesty said...

oooo so fantabulous! you have inspired me to stack inside shelves! loves it!

midnight macaroons said...

Everything looks so lovely, Rhoda! I really like your coral that you got for $3. You always find so many amazing deals. The lampshade is one of my favorites too! The black and white looks fab with the antique lamp. You have such a great eye in putting things together. You should have your own show on HGTV.

Randall @ Happy For This Moment said...

Those are great tips, thanks for sharing. I'm constantly rearranging my bookcases and table tops but think I've finally gotten the hang of it. I'll keep your ideas in mind too!

Sue said...

Rhoda, You do vignettes so well, so I think it was so informative to show how to put them together w/ all of your tips. The knack comes naturally to some people, while others struggle, so I think your post will be a boon to many. I love the bunny pictures, the ceramic bunnies, and the piece of coral! :-) Sue

Carmen said...

I always love looking at all of your treasures around your house. :)

Blushing hostess said...

Adorable - my Mom collects Herend bunnies, this was a nice reminder!

Amber B. said...

Those are such good tips! I love how your shelves look. Another thing I've done is trade with friends when I'm sick of accessories. Sometimes I also like to take everything down, put it all on the dining room table, and then see what I have in a new way. It's fun to "shop" your own stuff!! I'm sure you do that all the time!

Amy@TheLemonCottage said...

Hi Rhoda!
Thanks for all of the tips, you have such a knack for beauty! As I was scrolling down, I was going to tell you how much I love your zebra lamp... but then--- Lalalalala... I spotted the B&W lamp on your entry table.... I'm in love... I want it, I NEED it... LOL.... gorgeous!

Melissa Miller said...

Very pretty Rhoda!
Love your lampshade in the entry foyer. You've inspired me.

Have a blessed day.
~Melissa :)

Lou Cinda said...

Rhoda: Love it, Love it, Love it!! I am "trying" to revamp the shelves on a bakers rack in my den and these tips came in so handy! Thank you so much! Yours, of course, looks FAB!

Lou Cinda :)

Joel and Chelsey said...

I love this post! I am always rearranging too, so it's nice to know I'm not alone. Here's my question--I have a HUGE collection of books, and I am having trouble arranging my bookcases with books, as well as incorporating other things. What are the "rules" on this, and how is the best way to make bookcases look decorated, not just filled?

Aimee said...

Your vignettes are gorgeous!

You are full of great ideas. Thanks for sharing so many of them!

Take care,

Wagonwife Designs said...

Love the green pottery especially,
but they are all great.

Susie from Bienvenue said...

Hi Miss Rhoda! Can I just tell you how much I love those birdcages! I have been on the lookout for some old wooden ones for some time now. I will come across one someday Im sure. The fun is in the looking ..right?
One thing I love so much about you and your blog is that you care. It doesnt matter how many comments you may have you always find a way to make us feel special. I can remember when I first started blogging and could not figure it out. You were the one to take time out and help me get my layout just so. Thank you for always keeping your heart the same size as your blog...Huge! Susie~

Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

Rhoda ~ We have a lot in common with our tastes and collections (I love bunnies too!), which is probably why I follow your blog (and a few others).

Love the bunny pictures you put on the shelves but the Etsy shop you bought from has nothing at the moment - I have saved them to favorites and will check back next month.

Thanks for sharing your bookcases and vignettes!

Cal said...

I love the way you explain why things work. Thank you.
Cal x

Linda said...

I used to collect bunnies but none near as cool as these. I love your displays and especially the dishes.
I agree with you on th echeap junk---although if it just says Japan or China on the bottom, I know it predates me and that makes it vintage. LOL

Becky K. said...

I have a lettuce plate but I didn't know what to call it. I am going to go look up that name.


Becky K.

Nancy said...

Hi Rhoda,
I appreciate your tips and tricks for decorating on shelves and in other groupings. If you ever do a post about what to do with a long window sill, I'd be interested! I have one that I just don't know what to do with.

Have a good night...


Armchair Housewife said...

Loved this post, Rhoda, it was just lovely and lots of good ideas. I *love* that bircage, it's fabulous.

I agree with you about the made in china stuff. My "rule", as it were, is if I find something second hand, and it's a bit older and I like it and it happens to be made in China, then it's not a big deal to me. But buying new, mass-produced cheap china junk is totally not my thing. Not only because it doesn't hold up or look as nice, but also because I'm not a huge fan of sending a lot of money to China when I could be spending the dollars here in North America, either to a local vendor at a garage sale, flea market or antique store, or better still a charity at a thrift store. Best of luck in your 'transition'. :)

Love the blog, thanks for sharing.


Michelle@Life with Three said...

Would you believe I just picked up that exact same set of three finials at a yard sale last week? It was too funny to see them sitting there in your bookshelf!

Great tips! I'm currently working on a little vignette for my bathroom, so this post was very timely. :)

Joy said...

Pretty vignettes and great tips!

abeachcottage said...

I'm so with you on getting rid of the rubbish from China, I am slowly doing it too - funny that we are both decluttering, it must be in the air

enjoy your weekend sweet rhoda, think of me while your out at those sales - i'll be doing the same over the ocean...


Restyled Home said...

Expert or not, you are a master of the vignette! I love your humble approach, Rhoda, and that you make your blog such a welcoming place to visit. You are obviously a lovely lady, and that definitely shines through your writing.

Have a great weekend!


Rhoda, O' Goddess of Gracious Southern Living! I "accidentally" featured your breakfast room on my blog a couple of days ago and, thus, used your pics without permission. I apologize! I wanted to post the pics that had inspired me to keep my green walls in my own breakfast room but also bring in some red . . . and I had had your pics in the LOVE! folder on my computer for sooooo long that I didn't remember where they came from! Sweet Stacy from Poofing the Pillows let me know the fabulous breakfast area that makes me drool is YOURS!

Thanks to Stacey, and thanks to you for your inspiration! (Now, I'm going back to that post to give you the credit due!) And thanks for your incredible inspiration!


Runner Mom said...

Hey,Rhoda! This post was wonderful! I love how you decorate! I do the "more" is better also!

Remember the adorable tole tray that I got for 3 dollars at our Peru yard sale? (BTW, our church folks are in Peru this week working hard and sharing Christ!)I have moved it from my study--which is slowly growing more blues and greens! It's now in the foyer all alone!! I'll be posting soon about ideas to help it not be so lonely!! I've gotten some wonderful ideas today!!

Have a wonderful weekend!!

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

This was a great, informative post. :) Where did you get the little square chippy tin that holds the dried arrangement (same print as zebra print lamp shade)? I got the exact same one at Salvation Army this week ($1.50!!), and I wondered if it was originally from TJ Maxx or something. :)

Connie from Big Bear Lake California said...

Beautiful as always. Thanks for the many great tips and thanks for sharing!! Connie

Marsha's Mpressions said...

Rhoda, you took me back memory lane. My mother had that very lamp base that's setting on your foyer table. She actually had a pair that set on side tables on each side of the couch. I grew up with them in our little house. :)

I like the shade you have on it

Amy {The Red Chair Blog} said...

Hi Rhoda,

Love the vignettes. The birdcage grouping on the shelf is my favorite. Thanks for sharing!

niartist said...

Oh Rhoda, you're so welcome for that book, and I'm glad to see that it has found a spot with your favorites in your home. I also hope it helps you with some of your yard sale purchases. I learned a lot from my copy. :) Love this post too! I will definitely try to get all linked up to follow you over at the new place. :)

Sandra said...

Hi Rhoda! Thanks for all the tips you give us! I love the way you display everything!

design gal said...

where did you get that shelf in your laundry room? the one with the dentil moulding? i have been looking EVERYWHERE for one like that!

love your blog!

Paige said...

I just wanted to comment on your little round pottery piece in your first picture. I have several pieces that look just like that and they are made by Tab Boren. They all are the brown glaze w/the turquoise accents. I just love your piece!