A Bridge in interior decorating is any element(s) that help tie things placed on one surface, with things hung up on another.
In my June 7, 2011 post titled “Arranging Your Decorative Accessories (Knickknacks and Collectables), I tell you how to make a tablescape. I cover the different heights elements should possess for an interesting display. Now that you know how to do that, I want to tell you about combining the tablescape, with an arrangement of wall decor hung up behind it, to make an even more visually interesting statement.
Hanging Wall Decor over a chest, buffet, sideboard, etc …When hanging wall decor (pictures, dishes, relief sculptures, mirrors, etc.) above a chest, buffet, sideboard, sofa, etc, don’t hand them too high. Position them so the bottom edge of your lowest hung piece of wall decor is 8 to 11 or 12 inches above the chest buffet, etc. People have a tendency to hang things too high. You want the elements on the table top, and things hung up on the wall to act as one, not two separate units.
The Bridge that will tie the elements that make up the tablescape, and the wall decor is/are the tallest element(s) of the tablescape.
Now look at the illustrations. Illustration 1 shows a portrait of a lady. The bridge here is the two candlestick lamps that come up alongside of the frame of the portrait. The bridge brings the eye upward tying the collection of objects on the tabletop with the portrait hung above them.
Illustration 2 shows how one tall lamp helps to tie two tabletop decorative accessories together with two pictures hung up on the wall. Notice how the top edge of the upper picture lines up with the top edge of the lamp shade. The eye moves from the top of one element to another, in one smooth movement.
Illustration 3 is a bit like illustration 2. One large round and arching bridging piece on the left is counterbalanced by two similar round shaped elements on the right. The floral arrangement on the left is kind of overlapping the modern painting.
Illustration 4 shows how you take a collection of the same kind of thing (Chinese blue and white porcelain) from the tabletop, up onto the wall. The bridge here is the pair of candles and candlesticks that direct your eye upward from one surface to another.
So now go and look through decorating magazines. Study how different decorators have bridged tablescapes with wall decor.
Companion Posts …
Arranging Decorative Accessories on a Sofa Table, Buffet, Sideboard or Credenza 3-10-2015,
Picking and Hanging the Right size Picture or Mirror over your Fireplace 6-23-2011,
It’s Easy to make a Grouping of Pictures 6-29-2011,
Making an Interesting Arrangement of Pictures 7-8-2011,
It’s Easy to Hang Pictures up on the Wall 7-17-2011,
Hanging Pictures Around a Room 8-3-2011,
Hanging Pictures over a Sofa 9-12-2011,
Step-by-Step Instructions for Hanging a Gallery Wall 2-15-2015,
It’s Easy to Decorate a Room with a Tall/High Ceiling 2-3-2013.
I very much enjoyed your diagram for hanging plates up a wall. I put it on my Pinterest page, as I believe it is the best I’ve seen (Suzanne-in-Japan). You are so right about ‘bridges.’ I am seeking ideas for my entry of my new brick home. I need something interesting to use over a medium-light wood chest (chest is from Spain and is possibly maple or cherry). We cannot use a mirror because the chest/landing faces the entry door and that would be bad fung shui, according to my husband. My entry has white wainscoting with a golden/buttery yellow wall paper (solid) above. The trim around the ceiling, windows and doors –also white. The floor is solid cherry wood (native to Japan) and is still quite light in color and mat in appearance. My last choice is a wreath for the wall over the chest, but would prefer a plate arrangement or possibly some other type of artwork to hang over the chest. I already have a double brass sconce on the side wall so I would not want to add much more brass. Also, my single window in the entry is long and quite narrow (maybe 15″ by 40″) and to one side of the chest (above the wainscot). It has a full length, high quality, white lace under curtain on a tension rod and a roman shade of red plaid fabric on the inside and a yellow check lining facing the outside (matches the yellow wallpaper) that I keep pulled up to look more like a fabric valance. My front door is deep mahogany with a large clear leaded glass window (exterior of the window opening is rectangular with oval inner pattern in the leaded glass work). Japanese houses have two level entries — the lower entry is outdoor tiles in red/tans that match the exterior porch tiles, so you step up onto the cherry wood floor facing the chest (somewhat like an altar?). If you have time, could you please tell me what you think (recommend)? Thanks again for a wonderful website that is brimming with useful ideas.
Hi there Suzanne, as soon as you mentioned the shade with the red plaid fabric, I thought how about starting a collection of large solid colored. no patterned, red ceramic temple jars. You could put together a matched pair of jars, or two jars and a high sided bowl, or a grouping of different sized ceramic pieces in a tone of red that is similar to, or even darker than the shade so everything is tied together. They could also be red ceramic pieces with a bit of gold on them, pulled from the wallpaper. Have you read my post about grouping knickknacks and decorative accessories? something from it might also inspire you. As for the mirror and the fung shui, I don’t completely believe in the magical powers of that belief, but I can see the design principles that fung shui covers. Fung Shui, to me, is really about common sense of design. As for a mirror, would you ever thing about having a mirror with a large frame and a distorted convex mirror/glass so you would have the bouncing of light, but the distortion of the reflection would not be like a regular mirror. If you did not have the double brass sconce, I would have suggested an accent lamp with a beautiful base or shades, but that would not work in this situation. As with all of my suggestions, they are just guesses that I come up with from envisioning what the commenter tells me in their note. If I saw it in true life, I might have been able to come up with a completely different solution, but it is what it is. Good luck with your project ;-}
This is exciting to find your thoughtful reply and analysis! You hit this one right out of the ball park. The idea of plain red jars is perfect. The red plaid shade is what I call a Christmas plaid– no green in it but it has gold thread running through it already. It is a very cheerful look. I have been trying a green pot with a red/green leaf plant for now –I sensed that I needed a color there. As I am new to your website, I have not been to your article on grouping accessories yet –just took a peek at it and will take it all in later today!
The thing about mirrors in Japan runs deep. For example, in bedrooms and living spaces, my in-laws, who are very modern people in all other respects, drape a solid cloth over computer screens and mirrors and I’ve seen it done in many other homes, too. I am a psychologist here, and some time ago, I had a Japanese patient tell me that her marriage went bad after her husband brought home a used computer– she felt it had brought bad karma into her home. So even though my new house is a red brick western-type home (Georgian?), I absolutely cannot buck this “tradition” even with the intriguing (and unbelievably clever) idea of hanging a convex mirror!
Hi there Suzanne, if you need something behind the red temple jars, how about trying to find a large silverish/tinish/peweterish round metal “Charger” of sorts, or a Rectangular Tray that you could hand on the wall. You would have some of the reflectiveness of a mirror, because it is a silver tone, but there would be no reflectiveness what so ever. Something else to consider, if you need something extra.
Could a mirror ever be hung, in a wrong place, if an etching cream was put on the glass so the reflectiveness of the mirror was completely eliminated? The etching cream, available at craft stores would frost the mirror completely. Just some other thoughts to take as grains of salt ;-]
As I have said in the past, I love your site. I believe that, over time, I have now read all of your posts. But, alas, my poor old memory is not, at least presently, recalling mention of the rule of three which I’ve read so much about in decorating articles. I trust your decorative judgment and very much appreciate the opportunity to ask questions — and to receive informative, practical, fun responses — about specific, personal decorative situations. So . . . I’ve been wanting to ask you: in attempting to make a table arrangement, using the rule of three (or one, or five – i.e., odd numbers of items), do you include the table lamp in the count, or does the count only refer to items other than the lamp?
Thank you, as always, for sharing your expertise.
Hi there MJKB, first of all read Arranging Your Decorative Accessories (Knickknacks and Collectibles) if you have not already done so. MJKB, the table lamp is just one of the elements in the decorating equation. (look at the illustration for that post) So count it as one of your elements. Most likely it will be your tallest element, and you will pair it with other things of different descending heights. Good Luck with your arranging project, and thanks for your reading of soo many posts. You are one of those people who have helped me to get over the one million point for articles read ;-}