Hunt and gather: Set the scene with an artful arrangement

Photos: Verry Robin & Co. Photos: Verry Robin & Co.

Coco Chanel supposedly once said that, before leaving the house, one should look in the mirror and take off a piece of jewelry. The same goes for the house itself, says designer Jan Roden, when it comes to vignetting.

“What I would call vignetting,” she says, “is good accessorizing. Accessories can be anything from a lamp to a favorite rock with a fond memory of its origin.” But don’t go overboard. Places like bookshelves and mantels are great display areas, but Roden cautions against huge piles of objects.

In her own home, Roden gathers anything that moves her—a 16th century Italian antique from a trip to Florence or a whole deserted bird egg found on a walk in the woods.

And the same goes for And George, the Ivy Road store she owns with her daughter. “My passion and purpose is to gather,” she says.

Don’t be afraid to mix things that might not go together. “It is fun to pair up things that have never known each other but they are visually pleasant next to each other in juxtaposition,” Roden says. “They often serve as a piece of art when viewed like this.”

Also, she says, nothing should be overlooked. Some of the most interesting pieces for vignettes in her clients’ homes are ones they never thought to display, like a 40-piece collection of mint julep cups that had been relegated to the basement. “We pulled them out and did great things with them,” Roden says.

A good place to start vignetting is the entry table. “I change mine seasonally,” she says. It sets the tone for the home and welcomes guests.

Of course, as with most design, there are no hard and fast rules.

“This is an exercise from your heart,” Roden says. “Surround yourself with what moves you—it will feed your soul.”