Easter Table Breakdown & April Give Away Reminder….

A friendly reminder that I have launched my first give away with the blog where I will be giving away this tablescape…..you get everything pictured below…..

No really – I wasn’t kidding when I said I was giving away almost everything you saw on the table…..the winner will get:

Six Vintage Milk Glass Goblets

Six New Powder Blue Ceramic Plates from Mesa Home

Six 100% Cotton Napkins from Cynthia Rowley’s Home Collection

One 70-inch Round 100% Cotton from Ridgefield Collection

I am pretty much giving you all the essentials for you to recreate the tablescape!  So how do you win all this free stuff?  Easy, do ANY of the following things:

1) Subscribe to the blog

2) Fan me on Facebook and leave a comment on the wall

3) Subscribe to my Twitter feed and tweet about the contest using hashtag #CourtneyOutLoud

Each time you do one of the above items, come back and leave a comment here.  You can do all three and triple your chances of winning!  The contest closes April 18th midnight PST with the winner being randomly chosen.  Please remember to include an email address in your comment to I can contact the winner.  Unfortunately, this contest is only open to US residents (those dishes are HEAVY!) – sorry.

So don’t leave me hanging — nothing worse than throwing your arms open expecting some blog luvin’ and be left in the cold.

Okay, now that I have sufficiently pimped myself and the give away, on to breaking down the Easter tablescape…….

As usual, I sought inspiration in my favorite locations; The Dollar Store, Home Goods and my “prop closet”  aka my garage!  After creating my fictional client and the event I would be decorating for, I went about sourcing materials to make my dream a reality.  First stop was Home Goods where I picked up the table-cloth, napkins and plates.  Then I was off to The Dollar Store where I scored the materials for the center piece and table favors.  I completed my sourcing with stops at Home Depot for the sod and my local grocer for the fresh flowers.

Here is the complete breakdown:

Dinner Plates: Home Goods

Charger Plates: Z Gallerie

Napkins: Home Goods

Tablecloth: Home Goods

Milk Glass Goblets: Ebay.com

Milk Glass Compote Glasses: Garage Sale

Jelly Beans & Flower Lollipops: Dollar Store

Sod: Home Depot

Flowers: Berkeley Bowl (discount flower bin)

Flatware: Gift/Resale Shops/Ebay

Table Favor Vases: Dollar Store

Centerpiece: Cake Stands (Marshalls)/Coffee Filter Wreath (recycled)/Ribbon (Joann Fabrics)

Grand Total: I am SO not telling you this time around!  Why?  Because I am giving half the stuff away and it’s rude to tell someone how much their gift cost!  However, if you must know….. the grand total was actually below my usual tally of $75-100 thanks to some sweet finds including:

1) Flowers:  I was able to get all the live flowers and the sod for $11!  The flowers were found in the $1 bin at the grocery store – I simply plucked out the dying flowers and used the rest of the decorate the centerpiece.  The sod was turning brown on one end, so it was discounted.  Fortunately, I only need a small amount and was able to use the opposite side.

2) Centerpiece: I was able to recycle the coffee filter wreath I made this Christmas.  I made one smaller wreath using a $1 floral wreath form and the left over filters from the original project.  Total cost was $1!

3) Table Favor Containers:  They are $1 glass vases from The Dollar Store that I use when holding dinner parties.  They serve double duty as containers on my crudite platters!  Total cost for them — $0!

It pays to shop your own home first!  Look at everything from old milk bottles to  house plants as potential props when decorating your tables.  You would be amazed at all the awesome things you already own that you can use to create beautiful tablescapes.  As I always say, creating a table that looks like a million bucks doesn’t have to cost you a fortune!


Valentine Day’s Dinner Table Setting……

I am torn when it comes to Valentine’s Day.  It’s one of those holidays that you sorta feel hostage to, like Teacher Appreciation Day or Grandparents’s Day.  Deep down you know that some marketing executive (that was me in a past life) spent hours plotting a regression curve to figure out the maximum price to sell you flowers and other things for that “very special day”.  However, I love any opportunity to set a table and entertain. 

When I was thinking about my Valentine’s Day tablescape, I tried to imagine the client and her needs.  Here is who I imagined……

Her name is Sharon.  She is 36, never married but has a fantastic long-term boyfriend whom she has been with for 5 years.  They are in no rush to get married or have kids.  Both are content and quite happy enjoying each other’s time.  For once in her life, Sharon feels comfortable.  However, she knows she has a habit being too comfortable (she still remembers the time her last boyfriend caught her shaving her legs with his razor), so she makes an effort not to slack on those little things that mean a lot to the other person.  With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, Sharon planned to cook dinner at her house this year.  Surprisingly the city where Sharon lived in Northern California was having fantastic weather even in the night-time, so it was decided that dinner would be on the patio.  Dining under the night stars was something that Sharon always found romantic.  However, all the red, white and pink decorations with cupids and hearts were not her idea of romantic.  She wanted to do a something simple, elegant and a tad modern.  So Sharon called me to help her set a modern Valentine’s Day  dinner table ……

I do all of this back story because it helps me think through the vibe and tone of the table as well as plan out what pieces I would need to set the table that the imaginary client would love.  Here is what  I imagined for Sharon…..

Pink, brown and amber is the color palette for this tablescape.  I knew that I didn’t want the traditional color scheme for pink, white and red, so I looked for inspiration elsewhere.  I found it in a steno pad and a chocolate bar.  Seriously — I was taking notes and eating a candy bar.  I placed the candy bar on top of the pad to reach for something and when I turned back, was struck by the color combo….ergo my inspiration.

I used three different pieces of china to create the look.  The charger plate is amber glass and was bought at Ross Dress for Less for $3.99.  The dinner plate is white porcelain and was bought from The Dollar Store for, yup, a buck.  The salad plate is Ralph Lauren from TJ Maxx for $7 — my big splurge.  However, I often will splurge on interesting salad plates since that is what you typically will see in a plate setting.  I layer my salad plates over a simple solid dinner plate and viola — you got alot of impact for not that much dough.

Rather than having a floral centerpiece on the table which would take up space, I decided to do small gifts on each plate.  These rose shaped soaps (yup, I am not above using soap as a prop) were the perfect compromise in my opinion.  Their floral shape is the perfect substitute for flowers and saves me from not spending money on an overly expensive bouquet.  Additionally, the gift is functional and can be used later.  These were only $1 at The Dollar Store, so I bought five boxes ….perfect hostess gifts!

Here is my dirty secret.  I don’t sew. I want to learn but I suck at it.  However, I am an expert presser.  I can put a crease in a cracker if you give me spray starch.  I knew I did not want to spent a fortune on special table linens but I didn’t want to go with standard white.  After reading some of my favorite blogs, I decided that I could make my own napkins.  It was quite easy…remember I don’t sew.  I simply bought a yard of pink linen from Joann’s Fabric for $7 and cut it to size.  With an iron on high, I used hemming tape to create my seams.  For the table cloth, it was even easier.  I went to Home Depot and bought a 9×12 canvas drop cloth, washed it and let it air dry.  It looked exactly like linen but was only $9.99.  I used brown grosgrain ribbon for the napkin ring and pulled out my mother of pearl silverware and standard cutlery.

The brass candlesticks were a find at my local resale shop for $3 each.  The candles….well I am not proud but they are $1 tapers I spray painted in Sweet Pea (Satin) by Rust-Oleum.  I am sure that I will get some horrible cancer from burning them, but I could not find pink tapers to save my life!  Desperation is the mother of invention, so I made my own with a $3.50 can of pink spray paint.  The wine glasses are the luster amber set from Pier One. 

I  know some of you are wondering, why brown and amber for Valentine’s Day?  Well, I find that amber and brown glass have a beautiful reflective quality when lit.  It casts a warm glow and makes everyone look that much sexier in my opinion.  Since the dinner table I set will be primarily light with candles at night, the reflective elements from the charger and the glassware along with the warm brass tones of the salt-n-pepper shakers and candlesticks are going to wash the diners in warn golden tones — perfect when you are setting the mood for romance.

Okay, one more shot of the table……

As usual here is a breakdown of the tablescape:

  • Table Cloth: Canvas Drop Cloth (9×12) from Home Depot: $9.99
  • Napkins: 1 yard of linen fabric from Joann’s Fabric: $7/yard
  • Napkin Rings: Grosgrain Ribbon from Joann’s Fabric: $3.49/roll
  • Silverware: Vintage Mother of Pearl & everyday Cutlery from eBay and Costo
  • Glassware: Luster Amber Wine Goblets from Pier One: $5 each (bought on sale during Thanksgiving)
  • Charger Plates: Amber Glass Chargers from Ross Dress for Less: $3.99/each
  • Dinner Plate: White porcelain plate from The Dollar Store: $1/each
  • Salad Plate: Ralph Lauren “Ribbons” salad plate from TJ Maxx: $7/each
  • Salt-n-Pepper Shakers: Antique bird shakers from eBay: $6.99/pair
  • Candlesticks: Brass candlesticks from resale shop: $6/pair
  • Candles: Taper candles from The Dollar Store: $2/pair
  • Centerpieces: Rose shaped soaps from The Dollar Store: $1/each
  • Miscellaneous: Rust-Oleum Spray Paint in Sweet Pea ($3.49)

Total Cost: approximately $75 if you bought everything as laid out brand new.  However, I encourage you to take the tablescape concept and use what is in your home already.  I only spent slightly over $25 on new materials and supplies while everything else was recycled from what I already owned.  Just remember, it doesn’t need to cost a fortune to have your table look like a  million bucks!

Recap: Bright & Light New Year’s Day Brunch Table Setting

During the winter months, I crave brightness.  Some people call it seasonal affective disorder or some other fancy name, but I just know that by the end of December, I want bright, light and cheery.  This need has manifested itself in different ways throughout my life ranging from an inherit need to dress in bright patterns during the winter months to turning on every light in the house come dusk.  Fortunately for my electric bill, this year manifested in a need to create a bold and lively table setting for our anticipated New Year’s Day brunch.

Since most of our friends are parents of infants, a night of partying isn’t in the cards anymore. Instead, this year we have opted for a low-key New Year’s Day brunch.  The gathering is low-key, informal social gathering where we all wear jeans, the wee ones are fed and placed to play on the shag rug and the occasional tiny dog or two a sneaked a treat of breakfast sausage under the table.  The brunch is my idealized concept of effortless perfection and  I wanted the table to reflect this mellow vibe.   Think mellow but still fun as it’s still a party (even if sparkling cider is subbed for champagne for some members of the group).  After all, it is the first “official” social gathering of our friends, so we have to set the tone for the remainder of the year!

To achieve this feeling, I opted to go with a  non-traditional color palette – colors you would not typically find on a holiday table.  Don’t get me wrong – I am a dude who loves all things shiny and silver.  But when I tried it out a color scheme like that, it felt too stuffy for a brunch.  So I opted for a palette that was zippy and straight out of a Technicolor dream: turquoise, purple and orange.  This color scheme allowed me to do two things: (1) fulfill my innate  need for punchy colors and (2) mix pieces from my collection that don’t necessarily “match”.

What I ended up with was a super-saturated table setting that let me run a bit wild.  It’s fun,  bright and I think I may have my first table setting “crush”…….

Here is a breakdown of the items used:

Tablecloth: 90in round cotton Crate & Barrel
Napkins: Pier One
Dishes: Plate and salad plate are from Anthropologie
Champagne Flutes: Clearance pieces from Ross Dress For Less
Juice Glasses: Pressed antique glass
Silverware: A combination of antique mother of pearl pieces & every day stainless steel flatware
Flower vases: Ikea drinking glasses
Centerpiece: Dollar Store, found branches and holiday ornaments & keepsakes
Mercury Candle Holders: Michael’s Craft
Tea lights: Ikea

Tomorrow, I will highlight the “big sister” version of this table setting……

PS: You can get a sneak peek of the Big Sister version if you visit the lovely ladies over at Living Livelier!