Grouping objects in a pleasing arrangement is the goal of a vignette. Designers work hard on their tablescaping game, creating small compositions layered with texture and color that draw raves on Instagram. We asked some local designers to describe their process.


Marika Meyer’s bar in the “Lady’s Retreat” at the 2017 DC Design House in Potomac, Md. The neoclassical mirror hanging above it belogned to Meyer’s grandmother and in it you can see the framed vintage Hermes scarves Meyer hung on the opposite wall. Meyer is a Bethesda designer. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Setting up a bar cart should begin not with the booze but with the cart, says Bethesda designer Marika Meyer. Relate the cart's material, whether brass, chrome or wood, to the room's design, and look for one with storage shelves. "The basics for a bar are an ice bucket with tongs, glasses, mixers, cocktail napkins and the liquor," Meyer says. She cautions not to stick old dusty bottles of alcohol on your new bar; choose three or four popular adult beverages, and maybe even spring for some new bottles that sparkle.

Avoid clear glass; colored tumblers make a better statement, especially if shelves are glass. "Putting a row of plain glasses would just feel very cold there," she says. Don't feel like you need to put a dozen wine glasses on a cart; at a party, wine is best served in another location. Because so many cool bar accessories have a retro look, hit up relatives for unwanted midcentury highball glasses and cocktail shakers. That will add personality (and provenance) to your cart. Otherwise, hunt thrift shops, Etsy and eBay.

For the brass and clear acrylic bar cart in her "Lady's Retreat" at the 2017 DC Design House, Meyer added a vintage raffia-and-bamboo ice bucket. Her bottle-green glasses came from Etsy; the cobalt blue ones, right out of her own cupboard, from a Dansk outlet years ago. Her monogram is painted on white linen cocktail napkins by Billet-Collins; embroidered napkins from the 1950s are also a great choice. A small vase of flowers adds a nice touch.

More from the pros:

How do I style a bookshelf?

How do I decorate a dining table around a centerpiece?

How do I create a vignette on a chest or console?

How do I decorate a fireplace mantel?

How do I decorate a window seat?

How do I style a beautiful bed?

Chat Thursday at 11 a.m.  Designer Erica Burns joins staff writer Jura Koncius for our weekly online Q&A on decorating and household advice. Submit questions now.