I am a work-in-progress when it comes to the art of display.
Some days, styling comes easily to me and I can whip together a pretty vignette in no time - related objects just seem to jump out at me! On other days, nothing looks good. But as Malcolm Gladwell pointed out in "Outliers", most of what we call "genius" comes after years of hard work (this is how I console myself).
I am slowly studying, practicing, and learning the tricks. The easiest one is to use a common palette (in this case white):
Trays are wonderful, as they help to corral your unrelated "smalls" and elevate them in importance! The little horse tray says "TROT" below the image!
Grouping related things (theme or style) is the next trick, using odd numbers. In this case, my theme of pretty elegant things (crystal, porcelain, flowers) are grouped in a set of three on the tray. The botanical print in the background relates to the flowers in theme and also to the colour palette (white, green, brown). Notice there is also black script on both the clock face and the print, which subtly relates them too!:
Layering in taller pieces is the next step (like adding the green urn). This is usually where my vignettes deteriorate as I simply don't have enough stuff to put together (and have a serious lack of tall things)!
Adding something whimsical to the vignette also makes it eye-catching, like the pretty little horse tray I bought at a flea market in Paris.
The biggest secret of all seems to be trial and error and having a lot of beautiful stuff on hand to create unique, layered vignettes. Some of you are so good at it (like Steve and Trina). It certainly doesn't hurt to have a beautiful character home as a backdrop, but honestly, I think they could make anything look good!
Happy styling! Do you have a hot styling tip to share with me?