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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Thanksgiving Help from & ….

Can you believe that this time next week that it will be Thanksgiving?!?  Kinda crazy right?  Well don’t stress out because I teamed up with two different partners to show you how to avoid the Thanksgiving “craziness” ……..

Joyus Screenshot

The online retailer invited me onto their web talk show to discuss my short cuts and tips on throwing a stress-free holiday party and creating beautiful holiday tablescapes.  In the segment I show three different table settings that can take you from Thanksgiving all the way through New Years without breaking the bank or you in a cold sweat!  It’s all about creating a fun and easy approach to decorating.

Courtney Lake Thanksgiving Buffet

For my monthly column at, I am talking about how to set up a Thanksgiving Buffet.  Whether you are opting for a more relaxed holiday this season or a simply don’t have the room in your abode, I show how you can create a beautiful buffet that will wow your guests and leave you with time to still enjoy the meal!

And next week for all you procrastinators still in need of a menu, I break down my picks for simple, quick and yummy Thanksgiving dishes!  So relax I got you covered this holiday season!  Now I just have to follow my own advice and get started!  Sometimes the “teacher” is the worst pupil.  Now if you will excuse me, I need to start planning own menu…..

[photo credit: by adza]

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Easy DIY Centerpieces with Valley & Co.

When I first stopped blogging and tweeting when I was just a wee lad, I happened upon a a blog that was filled with beautiful pictures of what I thought were dream weddings.  Truth be told, they were dream weddings but not unattainable weddings thanks to the work of Valley & Co.  Aleah and Nick Valley are the power duo behind the event planning company Valley & Co. and it was because of their web site that I was inspired to do my first tablescape.  Their laid back approach to event styling and tabletop decor soothed my fears and I dove feet first into the abyss and have enjoyed myself ever since!  

With the lure of warm Summer nights and the 4th of July just around the corner, I asked Nick and Aleah if they would share some quick and easy centerpieces that would provide a BIG WOW but now big “oww” to your wallet.  Their ideas are simple, quick and best of all, almost everything can be found at your local grocery store floral department.  So without further ado……..

With a few simply tips and tricks you can entertain so effortlessly in the summer months and create show-stopping centerpieces and floral eye candy with on-hand items and a few floral elements. We love to look to our personal collection and flea markets to find inspiration. You’d be surprised at what old apothecary jars, books, trophies, and tin cans can do for party decor!

For a special dinner in a field party we worked with locally grown blooms mixed with edible objects {think summery sunflowers, early season dahlias, apples and sea salt grissini} to create an effortless and vibrant ambiance. We recycled over sized tin cans {check with a nearby restaurant as they might have some to unload} by spraying them with a copper paint and dressing them in peacock-hued scrolling font with our herb table names. Some were brimming with bright blooms and other with food guests could snack on. Our 80′ long dinner table looked so incredible with this variety. Guests were transported into a cheerful and comfortable feast!

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Valley and Co Tin Can Centerpiece

If you’re looking to create a charming and fresh look, check out your local market or grocer for white hydrangea clouds. A few dollars per stem, these blooms do the trick for bringing in texture and a dreamy feeling to any celebration. Not to mention, they are huge so they take up less space than smaller flowers. Want to create a similar look to ours? Take a clear glass vases and wrap a large green leaf around the interior to cover the stems. Fill with water and add one big hydrangea bloom and accent with tulips and ranunculus or your favorite flowers in a monochromatic fashion. The result: crisp sophistication.

Hydrangea Arrangement Valley and Co
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Summertime often means travel and a kind of nostalgia that makes us want to get out and experience. For this setting we incorporate lavish brocade napkins and a rope-studded linen with objects from our own collection for a travel-inspired look. Gold gilded books cinched together with a ribbon looked eclectic and book smart nestled atop a vintage leather suitcase. Look to your home to bring funky objects into your celebration. For flower power check out the market for tropical protea {or pincushions} and line your table with single stems submerged in water. Who wouldn’t love to kick back and sip on a Moscow Mule at a clean, classic and retro table like this?

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I am pretty sure this week, I will be finishing off some canned goods so I can try to recreate the first centerpiece!  Seriously inspiring and beautiful!  Thank you to Aleah and Nick for sharing your work.  Be sure to visit the Valley & Co. blog for more inspiration from this dynamic duo! 

[Photos: Field photos: License to Still ||| White nautical: Shannon Lee Images ||| Travel: Llanes Weddings ]

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Mother’s Day Tablescape & One More Announcement…..

So the big news……. I’m Pregnant!


And should you ever hear someone say that  I was, you should seriously question their sanity or their grasp of basic biology and reproduction.

Actually the news is sorta like giving birth but in a creative sense.  A few months ago the kind people at got this crazy idea that I have a point of view and offered me a monthly column.  Yup folks, I am a columnist now joining the ranks of Dear Abby, Ask Heloise and Jackie Stallone (you didn’t know she had her own astrology column?).


So every month I will be dispensing lifestyle, entertaining and design advice all packaged in the “Courtney Out Loud” way – minus the dirty words and sexual innuendos.  This month I tackled creating a Mother’s Day Tablescape that is young, colorful, bright and full of easy DIY projects along with a few designer secrets…….


I love how the table turned out and think it’s one of the best designs I have done to date.  It’s hip and approachable but still looks like you went broke creating it.  I break everything down from the place settings to the flower arrangements so you can create your own version at home.

Swing by the site and take a look and stay tuned for my June column – it will knock your socks off — metaphorically as I don’t condone violence even if it is to socks….

Have a great weekend and take a little time to enjoy the day!

ps:  Have you entered the Joy and Revelry Pin It To Win It Contest?  Don’t miss your chance to win $500 worth of home decor personally selected by me!

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Motivational Mondays: Valentine’s Day “Tablescape”….

Valentines Quote Shot_Horizontal

One of my favorite times of day is that hazy, peaceful moment between awake and slumber. You are zen.  Your mind is calm.  The world is quiet.  It is during those times where I roll over and look at my Partner’s face, so sweet and peaceful as he sleeps, that I am filled with gratitude for having such a special person to share my life with.

This Valentine’s Day I plan on forgoing some elaborate dinner and night out.  With both our schedules, anything that takes us past 9:30pm finds us struggling to stay awake.  So why not make your special person something truly special for the most important meal of the day….breakfast?  So this Valentine’s I plan on making The Partner breakfast  in bed……

Valentines Angle Close

Valentines Day Close Up Plates

Valentines Day Paperwhites

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Valentines Note

It is not quite my usual tablescape, why not mix it up with something I am calling a “bedscape” — perfect for Valentine’s Day.  It’s quick, it’s easy and honestly, who doesn’t think breakfast in bed is the quintessential romantic gesture?

This Valentine’s Day, I am celebrating that my dreams are my reality and my reality is pretty darn awesome!

Sources: Candlesticks & Tray : CB2 //Bud Vase: vintage//Flatware: Zara Home//Dinner Plates: HomeGoods//Salad Plates: Wedgewood//Napkins: West Elm//Champagne Flutes: Ross Dress For Less//Love Bird Salt & Pepper Shakers: vintage//Bed Linens: Crate & Barrel//Accent Pillow: Courtney Lake Interiors

[Photography: Photos By Adza //Styling & Art Direction: Courtney Lake]

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Throwback Tuesday: 2011 Thanksgiving Table Setting

This year, I will not be hosting dinner at the house.  I am a little sad by the fact that my home won’t have the heady scent of roast turkey, garlicky mash potatoes and the spicy hint of a pumpkin pie.  However, I am excited to break bread with new friends and contribute to their holiday in my own little way.

While I won’t be setting a table this year, I thought it would be nice to revisit my Thanksgiving table from last year.  Truth be told, it is one of my favorite tables I have done to date.  It has a traditional elements that have been modernized thanks to color and interesting floral arrangements.

So as I take a stroll down, memory lane, I hope this inspires you in our own way to make your home the inviting and warm haven you wish it to be this Thanksgiving…..

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Halloween Snacks ….

If there was ever an occasion or holiday to go thematic with food, then it would be Halloween.  However, there is a fine line between maintaining a “ghastly” theme and producing ghastly food.  Personally, eating dismembered body parts, having dipping sauces resemble blood or trying to recreate decaying flesh are all not appetizing — actually peeps they are the opposite.  They are a sure-fire way to ensure that you are left with a ton of leftovers at the end of your party.

Stick with these three quick recipes and you will not only score major kudos for serving yummy treats but also major kudos from your friends for being so creative and witty…..but then if I serve enough booze, my friends compliment me on the chips I serve, so take it with a grain of salt….

Use your favorite deviled egg recipe and “bedevil” them with red pepper horns and chive beards.  For an upscale twist, use red caviar in lieu of the red peppers for something that will surely have your guests signing away their souls for another bite….

Puff pastry wrapped around your favorite sausage is never a bad thing to serve your guests.  Add pimento for “glowing eyes” and you have the perfect bite sized treat for your guests.

Take a sheet of puff pastry, use a pumpkin cookie cutter, fill with your favorite sweet or savory spread such as pumpkin and ricotta or sun-dried tomato pesto, a quick egg wash and bake until golden brown.  This appetizer is classy enough to be served not only at Halloween but at Thanksgiving!

So to recap – no blood, not guts, no body parts – but all “bewitchingly” delicious enough to be served for your next Halloween party!

I am so inspired that I am off to pick up some fixings for a little weekend gatherings!  How are you gonna kick back and relax?

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Credit: Martha Stewart Living, Better Homes & Gardens