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Design ideas
6 Steps to Getting the Perfect Seasonal Vignettes
Artist/homeowner Amy Duncan shares her tips on creating seasonal vignettes.
Written by Meryl Schoenbaum and Amy Duncan
Photography by Bret Gum
CORNER OFFICE. Amy converted her garage into a studio space where she holds crafting classes. This corner greets guests with snacks and refreshments, thanks to an old trash-can-turned table base.

1. Change your scenery.

I like switching things up at home to reflect the seasons. I’m not talking about anything complicated, but a little change of scenery enlivens your home, gives it your unique touch and doesn’t have to cost a cent. Using what you have in ways you may not have considered is just a matter of learning to look at things with a discerning eye.

NATURAL CURIOSITIES. A collector through and through, Amy likes her decorative vignettes to revolve around simple treasures—a great way to play up fall’s bounty.

2. Work in odd numbers.

Things can be orderly, but the odd number breaks it up so nothing seems staid. There’s also strength in numbers; two thimbles are insignificant, an entire bowl full is eye-catching.

GLOBAL EXPLOITS. The patina of vintage globes and travel posters adds fun color to any space.

3. Repeat a complementary color.

Throughout my home, there’s a pop of ochre yellow or a bit of burnt orange. It complements the blue and green tones prevalent in most of the rooms without being flashy. It draws your eye in and keeps your interest in a vignette.

COZY NICHE. At the top of stairs were a perfect-size nook for a dresser and a place for Amy to hang artwork that had been on her dining-room wall when she was a child.

4. Look to nature for inspiration.

In your yard, at the city park, on a daily walk, there is plenty to be found—free for the taking. The gourds came from the garden as well as the dried poppy stems. I picked up a fallen branch with a few leaves still attached in the yard, and I found feathers while walking the dog. Keep your arrangements simple; let the beauty of nature speak for itself.

A BEAUTIFUL MESS. Above her desk, Amy finds inspiration from messages, greeting cards and other items. Small stickers, tags and scraps never get thrown away, but rather are saved for a creative rainy day.

5. Expand the possibilities.

When you look at a vintage item, consider how you can repurpose or upcycle it. An old brass doorknob becomes the stopper on an apothecary jar; a metal clock face becomes a coaster for a candle.

SUITCASE STORAGE. On the other side of the dining room is a stack of vintage suitcases that function as stylish storage. Paris landmark postcards framed and hung on the wall were sent to Amy’s mother from a suitor many years ago.

6. Layer it on.

Start with a theme and build on it, layer by layer. Some of the themes I have in my house are the large tower of suitcases and the framed Paris postcards in the dining room that suggest travel and the typewriter on top of an oversized dictionary that gives the sense of reminiscing about a past adventure. Vintage wooden type and an assortment of pen nibs that fill two glass vases are literary elements.

SLOW COLLECTING. Amy’s assemblage of clocks grew over time. Like any good collection, it was lovingly gathered rather than quickly forced.