Kara Rosenlund is her most creative on the weekend. Starting on Friday night, the Australian photographer and her husband abandon city life in Brisbane, head for the ferry, and hole up in their A-frame bungalow on North Stradbroke Island, just off the coast of Queensland. In her new book, Weekends (available November 26), the seasoned stylist lays out her approach to nesting, including tips for how to make the perfect prawn sandwich and the art of line-drying laundry.
But one of Rosenlund’s favorite island activities is to potter around the house and rearrange her collections of objects. “Sometimes pieces don’t come together visually and it can be tricky to understand why,” Rosenlund writes in the chapter “The Nature of Things,” where she outlines nine steps for building a thoughtful and balanced vignette. Turns out, there’s more to creating a beautiful console table than setting a bunch of tchotchkes down on a tray. In this excerpt, Rosenlund walks us through the elements:
Firstly, find your spot. A flat, level surface always helps, as you don’t want any objects you love sliding off and breaking. I like to anchor where I will be displaying my collection, like bookending it, so I know what room I have to play with.
I found this secondhand lamp on Etsy just recently and it will make a great bookend on the right-hand side, as it has a strong form. I love the quirky height and the texture of the lampshade, too.
Then on the left-hand side I want to create another bookend, a stack of books with interesting spines. The different fonts are really eye-catching. This stack will give me some great height to balance out the lamp on the other side. My favorite books to collect are old clothbound books, usually about photography. They can be found in secondhand shops and are generally inexpensive. Usually great covers are hiding under ugly, faded dust jackets. So rip those dust jackets off and display some book titles that speak to you.
I always like to add a surface in the middle of what I am building, like a tray. By adding another and breaking up the surface, it makes whatever you place on that tray feel really special and precious.
I like to then add a gentle feminine form to soften the hard masculine stack of books—a curved ceramic vessel. A vessel like this is great, as it can also hold water, which makes it a both a vase and a point of interest.
Add nature. It really is the most important part to any vignette, adding life. I used this banksia branch from the backyard, but I made sure to point the leaves inward toward the vignette. It’s important to remember that adding elements like this creates leading lines for your eye to either stay within or leave. You want to always be creating leading lines into the still life.
Adding multiples and things en masse like these nautilus shells brings a layer of abundance and interest. Anything in multiples feels special and rummaged for. Again, be mindful of the placement, as this too can create leading lines that can point your eye out of the frame.
Add some depth. This can be achieved by using framed works—a mirror, a photograph, something that draws you in closer. I like having these pieces on ‘the lean’ rather than hung on the wall. It feels more personal and intimate, and makes it appear as though you didn’t try too hard.
Make It Personal
The most important thing to remember is that it’s the story of you, so make it personal. This is not a showroom, it’s your home. The story of your life.