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.


Caryn Cramer’s guest room in the 2017 DC Design House in Potomac, Md. features eye-catching orange trim in the window seats. The Sherwin-Williams paint colors in the room include Refresh, Obstinate Orange, Papaya and Cucumber. Cramer is a Washington, D.C. designer. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

A window seat should have its own identity, says D.C. designer Caryn Cramer, who was delighted her room at the 2017 DC Design House contained two. In decorating a window seat area, consider its primary use as a quiet spot for thinking and reading, she says. A good place to start is to pick up one or two colors from the rest of the room, just to tie it in, then look for different patterns and textures in those colors.

To elongate a space, she suggests floor-to-ceiling draperies on either side of the opening to draw the eye up. Cramer says that in tall openings, you can use art or sculpture to fill in the height on the two side walls. Before you make seat cushions, measure the height of the seat. Make sure your cushion thickness doesn't make the seat more than 20 inches high or it might be uncomfortable. For lighting, sconces usually work better for reading than overhead lights. Use a variety of pillow sizes so you can adjust them for comfort.

In the dramatic window seat she did for a guest bedroom, Cramer used mostly her own textile designs in orange, mint and teal. The large seat cushions are sewn in tufted Greek-mattress style; two contrasting pillows are cut velvet. The side wall panels are upholstered in her own fabric. Don't overlook the small details: Knobs shaped like birds from Rocky Mountain Hardware adorn the two built-in storage drawers below the seat.