Throw Back Thursday: Chinoiserie Chic Christmas Tablescape…..

I thought it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane to look at a Christmas tablescape I did last year for the Nate Berkus Show. I created a tablescape I labeled “Chinoiserie Chic” – it had elements from several Asian cultures mixed with a traditional Christmas vibe.  I combined the traditional color scheme of red and white but filtered through the use of non-traditional decor like wicker lanterns, shadow boxes, paper flowers & fans.  Throw in some overtly Asian touches like red envelopes and you end up with what I am calling a “Chinoiserie Chic Christmas Table” ……..

The tablescape is anchored the the large handmade paper flower on the window…

The mural consists of about 17 different paper flowers made from a variety of papers including cardstock, wrapping paper, tissue and my personal favorite, the red glitter paper.  I added red clip-on bejeweled dragonflies as an unexpected surprise and to continue with the non-traditional Asian motif.

The centerpiece is composed of a manzanita branch I sprayed lacquered red, white wicker lanterns, clear glass bulbs and the red clip-on dragonflies.  Poinsettias in lanterns and a trio of modern glass candlesticks finish off the centerpiece.

The Ralph Lauren Pagoda print dinner and salad plates were the inspiration for the entire tablescape and their graphic design is the perfect counterpoint to the organic nature of the manzanita branch.  Each plate setting had a red envelope which is traditionally used in Chinese culture to give money during special occasions. I opted to fill each envelope with a different kind of currency –  individualized notes to each of the dinner guests telling them what they mean to me.

In lieu of flatware, I opted for red wooden chopsticks propped on a small ceramic poinsettia leaf on top of red cotton napkins. Two different champagne flutes were used for the table to give varied height and visual interest.

A customized shadow box placemat was created using a white shadow box frame from Ikea, lined glitter wrapping paper.  An inexpensive paper fan and swan chopstick holder were hot glued in each box to remind the guest of our trip to see to attend the Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco.

Aside from the handwritten notes in the red envelopes, I wanted to be able to give each dinner guest a little something, so I created individualized flower arrangements in red Chinese take-out cartons.

Okay one more shot of the table before I send you off to do your last-minute holiday shopping and preparations……..

[photo credit: moi]

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Nate Berkus Chinoiserie Chic Christmas Tablescape…..

Y’all don’t know how much I wanted to share this tablescape with you!  However, I had to sit on it until today since it is the one I created exclusively for my second appearance on the Nate Berkus Show which is airing today!

When I got the call from the producers that they would like to do a segment on how I decorate for the holidays I was elbow deep in Thanksgiving prep, had a house full of guests and was planning a trip to NYC the following week.  Part of me was overwhelmed by the invitation and part of me was excited to display an idea that had been brewing in the back of my head for several months.

I had this idea bouncing around my noggin that it would be an interesting idea to do a non-traditional holiday tablescape that bad homage to my Partner’s Asian roots.  I wanted to do something that touched on his pan-Asian upbringing but in a way that was undeniably “Christmas”, so I opted to use a a traditional color scheme of red and white but interpreted through the use of non-traditional decor like wicker lanterns, shadow boxes, paper flowers & fans.  Throw in some overtly Asian touches like red envelopes and you end up with what I am calling a “Chinoiserie Chic Christmas Table” ……..

The tablescape is anchored the the large handmade paper flower on the window…

The mural consists of about 17 different paper flowers made from a variety of papers including cardstock, wrapping paper, tissue and my personal favorite, the red glitter paper.  I added red clip-on bejeweled dragonflies as an unexpected surprise and to continue with the non-traditional Asian motif.

The centerpiece is composed of a manzanita branch I sprayed lacquered red, white wicker lanterns, clear glass bulbs and the red clip-on dragonflies.  Poinsettias from Home Deport were pulled from their foil pots and placed in the lanterns.  A trio of modern glass candlesticks from CB2 were also used.  I loved how their shapes echoes the lines of the wicker lanterns.

The place settings were a steal from Marshall’s that I still can’t believe.  I found these Ralph Lauren Pagoda print dinner and salad plates for $5 and $3 respectively on clearance.  They were the inspiration for the entire tablescape and their graphic design is the perfect counterpoint to the organic nature of the manzanita branch.  Each plate setting had a red envelope which is traditionally used in Chinese culture to give money during special occasions. I opted to fill each envelope with a different kind of currency –  individualized notes to each of the dinner guests telling them what they mean to me.

In lieu of flatware, I opted for red wooden chopsticks propped on a small ceramic poinsettia leaf from Michael’s for $1 on top of red cotton napkins from HomeGoods.  I pulled two different mismatched champagne flutes from my collection for the table to give varied height and visual interest.

Traditionally, I love using tablecloths on my tables.  I love the pop of color they provide as well as the background they create for the rest of the tablescape.  However, a tablecloth seemed out of place for this table but leaving the table settings resting on glass table made the tablescape appear bare.  So I decided to create a customized shadow box placemat.  Using a white shadow box frame from Ikea, I lined it glitter wrapping paper and hot glued a variety of items inside that were indicative of the guest seated at that spot.  In this case, I used an inexpensive paper fan and swan chopstick holder to remind the guest of our trip to see to attend the Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco.  Throughout dinner, each guest can be asked to explain what they think their shadow box represents.  It’s a fun way to enliven dinner conversation especially if all the guests don’t know one another.

Aside from the handwritten notes in the red envelopes, I wanted to be able to give each dinner guest a little something, so I created individualized flower arrangements in red Chinese take-out cartons.  Each arrangement is simply a one large cut flower with accent foliage that I inserted into a baby food jar filled with floral foam.  The cartons are from World Market for $0.60 each while it took one bouquet of each type of flower to make 6 arrangements.

While this table is a little more labor intensive than my other tablescapes, the effort will not be lost on the guests.  By creating personalized and customized items for each guest, I am positive it will be a fantastic Christmas dinner full of old and new memories…..

Thanks again to the team at The Nate Berkus Show for inviting me back and being so generous in their time and feedback.  And thank you to everyone reading this as without your support, I am positive I would not have had this second opportunity.

Okay one more shot of the table before I send you off to do your last-minute holiday shopping and preparations……..

Have a GREAT Christmas, enjoy your time with your family and friends and be thankful for all the wonderful things that you have in your life no matter how small.  Peace, love and happiness to each and every one of you…….

See all my tablescapes on my Tablescape & Vignette page.  In addition check me out on Facebook and Pinterest as well as Twitter.

Sharing On….

Between Naps on the Porch

Thanksgiving 2011 Table Breakdown

Thanks for all the kind words about this year’s Thanksgiving tablescape!  As I said, I made this made specifically with ME in mind.  This was the table I always imagined for my own dinner and I am happy I was able to create it this year!  Surprisingly, there are not that many elements and many are available at large big box stores.

So let’s  break it down…..

Place Settings

The gold charger was a score from Walmart during their holiday clearance sale for one dollar per charger.  The purple dinner plate is from Crate and Barrel and was picked up at the local outlet for $3.99.  The salad plate was found at HomeGoods for $6.99 for 8.  The napkins are my favorite linen napkins from Crate and Barrel for $4.99 each and the napkin ring was a clearance purchase from West Elm for $0.98 each.  Silverware (not seen) was rolled inside the napkin and is my everyday cutlery.  On top of the salad plate is a small ear of dried Indian corn picked up from the grocery store for about $0.75 per ear.

Tablecloth & Glassware

You may remember the glassware from last year’s Thanksgiving table.  They are the Luster Glassware from Pier One which go on sale repeatedly throughout the year ergo I am sure I didn’t pay full price.  The tablecloth is Ralph Lauren and was a great find at HomeGoods for $14.99.

Centerpiece

The centerpiece is a cornucopia shaped basket from Michaels that I light sprayed with bronze paint.  The basket was $12.99 but I used the ever-present 40% off coupon to get it for around $7.  Inside the basket, I used a variety of gourds, herbs, fruits and flowers including a large succulent cutting to anchor the centerpiece.  Pumpkins were staked to one side to add visual height and interest.

Candlesticks, Wreath & Salt-n-Pepper Shakers

All of these components are part of my core decorating “kit”.  The candlesticks are part of my ever expanding collection of thrifted crystal candlesticks that I use for various decorating vignettes or dining events.  The actual candles were bought from Ross Dress for Less for $4.99 for a set of 6.  The wreath was recycled from last year’s Christmas decorations and augmented with live florals and berries.  The pheasant salt and pepper shakers were a purchase from eBay last year that I love using for their sculptural quality.

And that’s it.  I wasn’t kidding when I said there were not many elements to the table!  If you wanted to get a similar look, here are some options, all of which you can order from the web…..

Credits: 1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10/11/12/13/14

Even with the table set, I feel I am still behind the ball!  So are you ready for Thanksgiving?    If so, what is your secret for an organized and chaos free holiday?

Speaking of secrets, I have one to share with you later today.  I will be announcing who won the Shabby Apple Dress Giveaway!

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Halloween Tablescape Breakdown…..

Sorry for the delay in this posting.  I meant to do it on Friday but even the best laid plans get interrupted with that little thing called “life”.  So take my humble apologies and let’s get crackin’…..

The Halloween tablescape was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s poem, “The Raven” which in turned inspired the individual aspects of the table from plates to flowers.

Gargoyle Place Card: Dollar Mart – I love placing a little something in the center of my place settings whether it be a flower, candy or in this case a little statue of a gargoyle.  They were purchased for $1 at the Dollar Store.  If your community doesn’t have a Dollar Store then try Amazon or  The Oriental Trading Company for similar statues.

Dinner Plate: HomeGoods –  The plates were a find at HomeGoods for $3.99 per plate.  Similar plates can be found at West Elm, Wayfair and Z Gallerie 

Flatware: Sur La Table – these pieces were bought last summer on clearance for $1.99 per utensil.  Similar pieces can be found on Ebay or if you have a budget Dolce Tableware currently has this beautiful olive wood flatware set.

Feather Charger: DIY – I knew I wanted black feather chargers for each place setting but could not find anything that exactly matched my mental image, so like any good bloggers, I opted to make my own.  The chargers are stiff black poster board and three different types of feathers.  A full tutorial will be up on the blog this week on how to make your own.  However, if the thought of being covered by glue and feathers doesn’t entice you, then check out these feather chargers from Z Gallerie and Cadeaux.

Napkins & Napkin Ring: Crate & Barrel/Pottery Barn – The linen napkins were picked up at the Crate and Barrel outlet for $1.99 a piece but can still be purchased in stores.   The napkins rings are part of Pottery Barn’s caterer box series which is also available in stores and online.

Wine Goblet: Dollar Store – So I have to be honest, I cheated on this aspect of the table for effect.   The black wine glasses I originally sourced for the table from Target didn’t photograph well.  They were too shiny, too dainty, too modern for the table but at $32 for 6, they were definitely the budget friendly option.  With time short, I opted to pull my artistic license card.  A quick trip to the Dollar Store produced 6 cut glass goblets plus gloss spray paint from my supply closet produced the look I wanted for the budget.  However, since the glasses were spray painted, they are not food safe, so they would need to be swapped out once the libations started flowing.  If you are looking to reproduce the look of the black goblets, try options from Eden & Eden or Ebay.

Centerpiece: The centerpiece is a combination of white orchids, purple mums, feathers, tinted carnations and dried flowers.  The urn is a vintage trophy I already owned and use as decoration .  Using the orchids as my base, I cut floral oasis, soaked it and inserted it around the orchids.  Taking cues from nature, I grouped my flowers into large clusters and inserted them in the floral oasis.  Black feathers were used to fill in any gaps and to reinforce the table’s raven theme.  The centerpiece was not cheap but not expensive at $50 with $27 of that for the orchids, but I think of orchids as an investment since I am reusing them throughout the house.

Ravens: Dollar Store – The black ravens (or crows if you want to be specific) were found for $1 each at the Dollar Store.  I touched them up with black floral spray (which I love since it is lighter than spray paint and dries very quickly).

Candelabra & Candles: Owned – I already owned the candelabra thanks to my Valentine’s Day tablescape but you may not have recognized it since it was pink.  Thanks to two thin coats of black spray  paint, I was able to get a gothic candelabra free!

Chair Slipcovers: Dollar Store – I found grey and black netting for $1 a package at the Dollar Store.  One package was the perfect amount to slipcover one chair.  I took a small section of black ribbon from my stash and tied to each side to secure.

So unless I missed something that is the Halloween table setting.  As usual, I tried to stay true to my fabulous on a budget motto and give some inspirational ideas you can use throughout your own entertaining.  As mentioned, check back later in the week as I show you how to make the feather chargers I used for the table for less than $5 each!

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Succulent Planters…..

It’s no secret that I regularly kill plants of all shapes, sizes and varieties.  The only success I have had to date has been with succulents and even then I have come close to killing a few.  Thankfully, the succulent container garden I planted earlier this year is growing beautifully and with warmer weather approaching should explode with color as its flowers bloom.  However, the same can’t be said for my orchids who all bit the dust about the same time.  It was like  mass suicide….they all bit it within a span of 24 hours!

So for the moment, I am done with orchids but I still like having greenery in the house.  I knew I didn’t want ferns and replacing cut flowers on a weekly basis is a tad expensive, so I was at a loss as what to do.  Pondering my plight, my eyes fell upon this marble urn that sits on my bedside table….

Originally designed to hold bathroom sundries, I bought it at Home Goods for around $5 as a bit of “bling”.  Seeing the urn made me realize that it would make the perfect planter for a miniature succulent.  Carrying with the theme, I made a quick run to Home Goods and luckily for me, they had three different sized marble containers for which I paid a total of $20, about the price I would pay for a nice pot, or so how I justified this random shopping urge.

Fortunately, I had a credit at Home Depot and was able to purchase three very adorable mini succulents for $1.98 each.  Once home, the project took about 30 minutes to complete thanks to the addition of some extra potting soil.  I think they turned out really well…..

After filling in the sides of the containers with extra potting soil, I was left with the issue of having soil in all the nooks of the succulents which was not exactly the look I was going for.   Remembering a trick from my event planning days, I pulled out a small artist brush and gently brushed the dirt off the leaves — worked like a charm!

Right now, they will reside on my coffee table until I find a more suitable spot, but then, I just may leave them there.  They can’t fare any worse than their orchid brethren……

Now I just have to figure out what to do with the tops that came with the containers.  Suggestions for a nifty DIY project for the tops would be appreciated!  Leave your ideas in the comments section or shoot me an email.

I am off to attach trim to the curtains — it will either look awesome or like crap.  Isn’t it funny that the divide between these two extremes can be so small at times?

Lamp Shade Quick Fix…..

I am in “crunch time” for the apartment renovation regarding all the little projects that need to get done before installation this Thursday.  One of those projects was figuring out what to do with the shade for one the lamps that will be residing in the guest bedroom.

I found two of these brass lamps on sale at Home Goods for $15 each.  I think it would be a safe bet to say that the shades may have had something to do with their discounted price.  While I am not against the idea of having a zebra striped lamp shade, I can’t say that my client would be enamoured with the concept.

So I had to find a solution that allowed me to use the existing shade since (1) I did not have the time to order a new shade online and have it delivered and (2) the budget is tighter than a cheerleader’s sweater.  Fortunately for me, this thing called the “internet” came to the rescue in the form of fellow blogger Janell of Isabella & Max Room.  Her lampshade tutorial  was the inspiration for a quick DIY project to transform the shade  into this……

I am quite pleased with how it turned out, while not perfect, it is a heap better than the original shade.  I slightly changed the tutorial since I didn’t love the inside of the shade as it was white, so I spray painted it with Rust-Oleum Metallic in Bronze.

Painting the inside of the shade made a huge difference in the quality of light – the lamp now gives off a wonderful warm light that is perfect for a bedside table (and makes everyone look that much sexier…and honestly, who doesn’t want to look sexy in bed, unless you are tired, then you just want to look asleep).

The one thing I did struggle with was deciding what fabric to use.  It had to be opaque as not to allow the zebra print to show through when the lamp was on.  However, it had to be thin enough to easily glue and fold over the existing lamp shade frame.  Finally, it had to be something that could be cleaned because really, who wants a dusty lampshade?

I am unpredictable in many aspects of my life, but when I need inexpensive designer fabric, there really is only one place I turned to in my area, Discount Fabrics.   They have a fantastic remanent section that I am normally able to score top brand fabrics for $4.95 a yard (no joke!).  Sadly, Lady Luck was not on my side this afternoon regarding their remanent section, but I did find a great fabric that fit all my criteria in their upholstery section.

Priced at $18.50/yard, I am able to do both lamps with a half yard of fabric, so total cost for two lamp shades was $9.50.  Score!  I love that quatrefoil pattern on the fabric and that it is reversible, changing to a gold and brown colorway on the reverse.

Overall, I am quite pleased with the project and happy to have dipped my toe back into the DIY waters.  It had been a while since I had done anything and I was nervous about jumping back in on a client’s project, but I am glad I did!

Tomorrow is trimming out the curtains and some DIY art for the dining room.  I am going to milk this budget for all its worth!

HomeGoods Fu Dog Look-a-Likes….

Over the years, I have  been schooled that many of the things Americans find “Asian chic” or “Asian inspired” can be construed as insulting by many Asians and Asian-Americans.  The Partner has pointed out that many things labeled as above are a jumble of design elements from Japan, Korea and China.   I have become hyper aware of such things as The Partner and his family are of Taiwanese descent. 

Historically, chinoiserie has played fast and loose with its definition of “Asian inspired” and has freely borrowed from a range of Asian cultures.   While I have never been a huge fan chinoiserie, I do enjoy it in small doses.  Done correctly, chinoiserie can add an  bolt of color, vibrancy and history into modern spaces.  Done incorrectly, it can border on insulting, coming off as mocking towards the Asian cultures it is suppose to admire.  That is why I was surprised that I was quite smitten with the Fu Dog Bookends that CB2 is currently selling: 

CB2 Fu Dog Bookends

 

They are a classic example of chinioserie and definitely add a pop of color and style to any room.  I have been eyeing them for either the Music Room or the Master Bedroom, but in either case, they were going to need to be spray painted a different color.  So paying $50 for an accessory that I was going to need to redo, was a bit of a deal breaker for me. 

However, as with many things, good things come to those who wait.  On Saturday, I made a special trip down to Moraga, CA to visit the HomeGoods store.  If you have not been to HomeGoods, why are you waiting?  And if you don’t have one in your area, move.  I told The Partner that should we ever move, we need to confirm that there is an In-n-Out and a HomeGoods store within driving distance of the respective house, otherwise I am not going.  Honestly, it’s one of my favorite stores.  Imagine, an entire store dedicated to home goods and decorating.  Now imagine that store the size of a large TJ Maxx.  Now imagine everything being sold at TJ Maxx prices ….and that my friends is why I love this store.  Matter of fact, HomeGoods is a division of TJ Maxx, so it’s very likely that you may be find some of the same items in your TJ Maxx home goods department, but it doesn’t compare.  I honestly get a bit giddy going to the store.  I have friends who geek out going to guitar shops, used record stores, vintage clothing stores or wine importers.  I geek out over home decorating and kitchen supply stores.  I can blow a good chunk of change in HomeGoods and not blink , so I typically drag a friend along to talk me down from buying three duvet covers and or a pair of lamps because they are $19.99 each.  Sad but true story….. I am redecorating our master suite based on the fact that I found cheap sheets at HomeGoods.  It’s a sickness….I know. 

Any case, I visited HomeGoods and ran across a set of Fu Dog Bookends that struck me as mighty similar in color and shape to the CB2 set.  I immediately walked over and picked them up to inspect.  They were a tad lighter in weight than I hoped, but when I checked the price, the deal was done.  Each bookend was $3.99!!  Honestly, $8 for the set.  Yup, those puppies were tossed into my basket and I went about the rest of the shopping excursion in a happy daze.  

 

 

Fu Dog Bookends from HomeGoods

 

Along with the bookends, I bought some crystal candlesticks, scented drawer liners and a silver gravy boat.  I feel like I made out like a bandit!  Even better is that when I showed The Partner the bookends, he actually liked them.  Whew!  So now I just need to confirm which room they will go in, so I can decide on a paint color. 

 Isn’t it amazing how stumbling upon a decorating score can elevate your whole day?