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Monday, July 19, 2010

Tutorial: Tips for Arranging Knick Knacks

I really hope you all aren't sick of my kitchen.

I'm not yet. I still love walking in there. And get this: a few weeks ago, I took a cooking class. You might not believe me, but I am a decent cook. I just never did it, between all the bipolar stuff, I was never stable enough to cook. My focus was keeping my kids fed, clean and happy, and anything above that was fluff.

So, this class wasn't so much the basics of cooking, but how to get more whole grains and more veggies into your cooking.

Which came at a great time, because I've been feeling good enough to be in the kitchen, cooking dinners for my family. And we've been eating together, which the kids love to do. Sometimes I have major mommy guilt that we didn't do that too much before; they love eating at our new table, with everyone together. But, then I have to just get over it, and move on, and feel hopeful about the future, and eat my salad and delicious whole-grain chicken salad with homemade ranch, and smile, because life is good.

Anyway, what was the point of this post? Oh, yeah, kitchen is good. And I thought it might be fun to give you a few tips of how to pick, group and display knick knacks so that they look cohesive and not disjointed.

This is something I don't think comes naturally to me, so this is what I've learned so far. Plus, this way you can get a closer look at what is on my kitchen shelves.

So, I have a light fixture that comes down in the center of the shelves. It's so hard to get a good photo of it all together. I took a bunch and then tried to put them all together. My photoshop skillz weren't serving me that great this time and it's a bit wonky, but you get the idea.

Tip 1:
Color. Pick things that are tied together with color, and repeat throughout the display, adding in plenty of neutrals. These teapots, which came from my great-grandma, were the inspiration for the entire room. I'm not too picky about exact shade, but rather, tried to pick from these families.

You'll notice I gave a lot of leeway to the greens, with tones ranging from olive to leaf to much more blue undertones, but then kept my blues much more tight, sticking closely to teals and aquas. Same with the yellows--I tried to avoid any bright yellows, instead going with mustard and muted colors. I stuck in a hint of navy, which will go nicely with the fabric I choose.

If you're unsure of color, go with all neutrals, then pick one color and put pops of color throughout your display. It will look amazing every time.

Tip 2:
Numbers. For some reason, our eye likes to try to pair things up, so odd numbers will always look more interesting and will keep the eye moving. I'm pretty loose with my interpretation of this "rule" but it does help if I can't figure out why something isn't working.

Tip 3:
Scale. Varying heights and size within a group will always help the eye travel and make a display more appealing.

Tip 4:
White Space. Don't cram everything you can up there. We need breaks. Leave some empty space for your eye to rest.

Notice in the photo of everything together, there are definite groupings, with space between. It might have been a good idea to leave even a little bit more space, and I might play with that some more.

Tip 5:
Stack stuff. I really love stacking old books (or new ones) and putting something on top of them. Or stacking matchboxes and putting something on top of them. Or plates. Or bowls. Don't forget to stack.

Tip 6:
Repetition. If things are looking too crazy, go buy three of something and put them in a row. It immediately calms things down. These bamboo utensil holders were at the dollar store, and they cut down on the clutter factor instantly.

Tip 7:
Variation: Across a long space like these shelves, you want to make sure you have groups of busy things (like the shadow box spoons/bowl/matchboxes/insulators) followed by groups of not at all busy things, like the white pitcher. Play with it until you find what works. Sometimes it takes a while. This also goes for varying things like color, size, height, etc.

One thing I like to do if I'm not sure is to blur my eyes. If the shape is still fairly interesting and things aren't fuzzing right into each other, it's probably working ok.

Tip 8:
Mounting Tape is your friend. I bought a roll of mounting tape and it's been great for helping me with things like the plates. Once I was sure they were going to stay there for a while, I put a little strip so they would stay in place (they were already resting on the shelf itself) and not roll off. It also helped the frame the spoons were in from going crooked. Every time I walked by the dang spoons, they were crooked!

See, nice and straight now.

I am loving these floating shelves! It's great for displaying all my vintage knick knacks, but it brings in that modern flair I need to keep it from being too little old lady, ya know? And I think I'm getting down this arranging trinkets thing too.

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  1. I don't think I'll ever get tired of your kitchen posts. Your design talent is amazing.

    Thanks for the great pointers. I knew some of them, but I learned a few things that will be very helpful in the future.

    Enjoy your kitchen.


  2. Great explanations!

  3. I think it's great! And wonderful tips.

    But I was totally distracted by the bipolar thing. Are you bipolar? How did I miss that?

  4. Katie, yep, I'm bipolar II, just got diagnosed a few weeks ago officially, although I've suspected for a while now that I might be. Doing amazingly great on some new meds. :D Nice to finally figure out what in the world was going on in my brain.

  5. Wow, all this creativity and taking care of a family of 6. Hard to imagine the meds will make you even better. I'll be in full-blown envy pretty soon.

  6. This is great! It is something I've never been able to master, and these tips are really helpful. I never thought of grouping things that way! I always tried to space them evenly, which never worked and always looked junky.

    Jess - That's Sew Crafty


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