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Picks of the Week on the blogosphere | 080308 issue-part 2

felt home accessories by Papaver Vert : Ronel Jordaan : Moa Jantzes : Graf-Lantz :: Anthropologie

Felt seems to be all the rage. Looking at the amount of felt products for the home featured by my fellow bloggers last week, I almost smell a trend. I saw more this morning while I am reading my RSS feeds. I like felt so I cannot be happier.

My 4 picks of the week

Design Hole for Felt Accessories

Like me, my friend Jennifer Mitchell of Design Hole was amazed all the wonderful things crafty and ingenious people are making out of felt.

I am showing this cute set of mustard base bowls by Papaver Vert. Imagine them as the nest for your Easter eggs. The rest of the year you can serve wrapped candies or use them in the entrance to store loose changes, keys and your cell phones.

Jennifer aptly suggested creating a soft tabletop display with these lovely Little Pebbles. Otherwise, you can build a vignette in the room of your choice. I suspected the felt pebbles to be from the South African artist-designer Ronel Jordaan.

Emma Designblogg for OKKO

I felt in love with these artichoke or blossom inspired stool designed by Moa Jantzes. Called Kotte, I found the look pretty amazing. I called it a stool out of a better word, but it is really more a sculpture. I follow Emma’s blog since the summer of 2007.

Oh Happy Blog! for One Stop Shop: Anthropologie Offbeat

I really like this tabletop designed by Anthropologie. Blue and mustard is a hot color palette for Spring 2008. Adding the natural accessories create a fresh approach that has not nothing to do with the traditional royal blue and white from Holland or the blue and yellow Provencal style.

Oh Happy Blog! is produced by an event designer from Jacksonville, Florida. Her name is Danielle Gregory. Her latest posts gave me the impression that she is a fan of Anthropologie and IKEA. I discovered her blog last week.

Better Living Through Design for Graf-Lantz Wine Bottle Holders

We often carry around wine bottles from you go the BYOW restaurants or to a friend’s house. Why not do it in style? The thick merino felt protects and insulates your wine bottles. These are two creations by Gräf & Lantz, the Los Angeles based design studio founded by Holger Gräf and Daniel Lantz. The handles and details are made with vegetable tanned leather.

The colorful Duo model is also available in a solo version. The Quiver will appeal to men. What I like the most about the Quiver is that you can detach the shoulder strap and keep your bottles chilled and handy in the perfect cosy.  These wine bottle carry-on bags look hip and green.

These felt accessories would made wonderful gifts for a housewarming party or a unique wedding gift.

Buy online: Large Squatty Felted Wool Bowl Set -Shades of Grey with Mustard Base by Papaver Vert – price: $79 USD for a set of 3 bowls
Buy online: Felt Pebbles at Branch – starting at: $14 USD
Learn more: Kotte by Moa Jantze at OKKO
Buy online: Quiver Gray Felt and Brown Leather by Graf & Lantz – price: $130 USD
Buy online: Duo Red German Felt and Black Leather by Graf & Lantz – price: $118 USD


My recipe to successfully design a tabletop

tabletop design guide : dinnerware : flatware : placematWith the death of packaged theme for home decor, the art of coordinating can scare some of you. Not everyone knows all to mix products into a tailored yet cohesive design.

Beginners who wish to mix styles can rely on a proven, simple method. Start by finding one thing (furniture, accessories, painting or plate) that you like and derive the rest from that element.

Practice with small projects like designing every week end a new tabletop. Why not reinstate the old-fashioned family dinner every Sunday? Use this occasion to also practice new recipes and food plating. Ask your family for help so everything runs smoother the next time you have guests over for dinner.

My 5-step guide to better design your tabletops

To teach you the basics, I developed a 5-step guide. More design rules are involved but these 5 steps will help develop your sensibility.

  1. Consider all the dinnerware and the home accessories that you have on your house.
  2. Examine them carefully individually and collectively.
  3. Pay attention to the shapes, colors, textures, finishes and emotions.
  4. Look for both similarities and contrasts.
  5. Let flow your creativity and explore compositions and concepts.

If you are new to this, practice often and you will see that it becomes easier. Remember that not everyone has the inner style to be a designer, so do not discourage if you have trouble successfully mixing stuff. Some people are great at sports, others at design.

New video series

Since I know that nothing beats seeing someone doing it, I hope to start publishing instructional videos on how to create tabletop after I planned a little recording studio.

My first video may feature the nature Asian inspired Chirp dinnerware set by Lenox. I will demonstrate several table linen options including the Birds ‘n Trees placemats by Modern-Twist that I bought at Lekker while I was visiting Boston.

Flatware as jewelry for your table

Just changing the flatware can totally change the look of your table. Think of it as jewelry. To get the right look, do not be afraid to rent flatware for your events. In fact, Sarah Dennis of Table and Toasts said the same thing on an interesting post yesterday about Trends in flatware rentals.

I displayed Beaded Antique flatware by Towle available at, several models by MEPRA available at Lekker and the fun colored Fantasia Millennium Flatware by MEPRA available at Plastica.

+ Chirp Dinnerware by Lenox – price:$99.95 per 5-piece setting
+ Silicone placemats by Modern-Twist – price: $22 at Lekker
+ Beaded Antique by Towle – price: $49.95 per 5-piece setting
+ Natura ICE Five Piece Place Setting – price: $37 per 5-piece setting
+ Italia ICE Five Piece Place Setting – price: $44 per 5-piece setting
+ Levantina ICE Five Piece Place Setting – price: $47.50 per 5-piece setting
+ colored Fantasia Millennium Flatware by MEPRA – price: $50 per 5-piece setting


Design tips for receptions on Project Wedding

design tips for wedding receptionsLike many wedding blogs these days, Project Wedding was born out of the needs of a couple to find the right vendors for their big day. The site connects brides across the United States and helps them share ideas, advice and vendor recommendations.

The photo gallery is huge. You can find inspirations for your dress, reception, ceremony, flowers, cakes, invitations, amongst other things. I selected key photographs that showcase what I considered to be excellent entertaining habits.

Greeting Guests

These festive lanterns on bamboo sticks are great to illuminate an outdoor party at night. Put three rows at the entrance pathway to greet your guests in style. Select harmonizing colors with your party décor, ideally on a brighter or a warmer tone. I avoid pastels because the color is lost at night when lighted.


Following my post of how to select a centerpiece, I am showing you two successful tabletops. The centerpieces would not interfere with conversations, the tables are not overcrowded, the design is kept simple yet the tables look out of the ordinary. The long rectangular tables feel homier than the round tables. Before personal taste, the table shape is determined by the size of the room and how many people will sit down at your dinner party.

Candy Buffet

Sweets and candies are always appreciated. Here the Rocher Chocolate party favors are personalized with the guest names. Use these candy buffets as your muses for your Oscar night party on February 24th, 2008. They form an excellent guide on how to create a beautiful candy station.

Learn more: Reception photo gallery at Project Wedding – See them for the photo credits


Tips on How to Select your Centerpieces

L.Logon Photography, Ludwig Photography and Cloutier Photography : flowers by Stoneblossom

I was at a wedding not too long ago where the centerpieces were at the wrong height. After 30 minutes, one guest sitting at our table had enough to not see everyone sitting at the table that he removed the centerpiece from our table. This may be an extreme behavior (that I do not endorse btw) but this action clearly demonstrates that the comfort of your guests must be a top priority.

Before you decide on the kind of flowers, the colors or a specific arrangement for your centerpieces, consider the human scale factors and analyze carefully the room where the event will take place.

In my mind, the elements that you must consider first refer to:

Room Ornamentation

creating movements with the centerpieces and trays in an ornated room

If you host your party in a castle style room with moldings and ornamentation, the room already makes a statement. You should not try to compete with the room. In a room like, minimalist elegance typically work best.

But if you rent a tent, you need lots of things to dress up the drab vinyl white finishes. I always recommend lanterns or if you can afford it, ceiling dropping floral arrangements so the eyes stop before the roof. And always plan a look with the walls because you can never predict the weather.

Room Scale

The height and the ground surface are the obvious elements. But never underestimate the power of lighting, patterns and colors on the perceived room scale. It is necessary to analyze the overall effects. For example, large and tall hanging chandeliers lower the room height mark.

If the walls feature bold patterns, low height centerpieces on the dining tables would not look out of place even if the room is vast and have 17 feet high ceiling.

Guests must see each others

When you are in doubt about the height of your centerpieces, ask the florist to prepare a sample. They test drive it with friends of different heights sitting at the table. As you can see on the top right picture, low centerpieces enable you to put the emphasis on hanging decorations.

Otherwise go for the tall bouquet on the smallest clear glass base that is possible. Like I told you earlier, medium height centerpieces would not work.

Creating movements

Each picture produces the illusion of movement in their own way. Repetitions force the eyes to jump to the next element. Playing with the heights is a successful tactic that is illustrated on the bottom picture.

The place cards station use the fireplace as a focal point to attract you. Beside the flowers, make sure they are enough decorative elements on your table to create an impact. On a rectangular table, repeating a sequence of two accessories bring refinement to the room. On a round table, you try to create the effects of circles inside a circle.

The elegance of single blooms

I personally prefer centerpieces done with one or two colors. Since you have multiple bouquets on a single room, I think monochromatic centerpieces produce a more sophisticated look than the multicolor centerpieces. You can play with textures to add dimensions. When in doubt, remember that calla lily flowers look amazing for any occasions.

Inspiration shots

I used the creations of a floral design studio specializing in floral event. Located in Rhode Island, Stoneblossom has established a solid reputation over the last decade by designing artful and lush arrangements.

If you wonder what it was, the bottom picture showed a Brazilian dessert table. Over 1000 mini-desserts were placed in gorgeous Brazilian silk blossoms, and arranged with plateaus of glass, orchids and calla lilies. That is what I call an ultimate luxury in events.

+ L.Logon Photography, Ludwig Photography and Cloutier Photography – flowers by Stoneblossom


Shopping at Lekker Home in Boston

lekker store in bostonIf you follow me, you probably noticed that I am a fan of the Lekker Home store. For the ones that do not know this store, it is an indie store with a single location. Their reputation is due to their unique inventory.

The owner is a Natalie van Dijk Carpenter, a woman born in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. She currently lives in Boston. Nathalie often traveled across Europe to bring to America amazing design products. Nathalie imports home décor accessories, tableware and furniture that otherwise would never be available in the United States. Innovative USA brands find some shelf space at Lekker Home like my new fave, Modern Twist from California.

Staying in a hotel that was only 10 minutes by foot from Lekker Home, I could not miss the opportunity to check the store.

Dinnerware for entertaining

Although Lekker Home does not carry formal dinnerware set per se, you still find several options for when you are having friends over. Let me assured you that the dinnerware collections are as interesting in person as online. I adored the comfortable, modern and stylish shape of Elixyr Collection by Kahla.

Go for the Elixyr 5 Piece Set with a cappuccino cup with saucer instead of the saucer. The rest of the 5 pieces include a dinner plate, a salad plate and the remarkable bowl with handle. A small curve creates a handle for the plates.

For more details, watch the video.

My purchases

Naturally, I could not leave the store without buying a few things. I restrained myself and brought home 5 tablescape accessories:

  • Silicone Placemats by Modern-Twist: the brown bird motif
  • Coaster Notz by Modern-Twist : set of 4 Trees of Us in brown
  • Vinotagz Designed by Modern-Twist : set of 6 stem markers
  • Black and Sand Bread Bag by Stelton
  • Utilo Teastick by Blomus

I felt in love with the silicone collection by Modern-Twist. I really like the fact that the placemats and coasters still reveal the wood grain of my chocolate-brown dining table. Their illustrations are all inspired by nature. It is hand silk-screened on non-toxic silicone that can be wiped down after use.

What is interesting about this line is that you can write a party greeting, used it to identify the wine at a wine tasting event or write down the guest names. Make sure you use a ballpoint pen. Simply clean them with soap and lukewarm water.

Designed to identify your glass, Vinotagz comes in a set of 6 stem markers. The storage box of Vinotagz fits cleverly on the neck of a wine bottle. Next time you contribute the wine for a dinner party, insert a pack of Vinotagz in every bottle. You host will be delighted by your hostess gift.

I selected a reversible black and sand because they are more versatile that the single color bag. It will harmonize well with my cupboards and my stainless steel appliances that have hints of black.

My husband is a tea lover. I prefer to serve each person their favorite tea. We were seduced by the clean lines, the practicality and the eco-friendly aspect of the single serving Utilo Teastick.

It is good for my wallet that I do not live in Boston because I would shop at Lekker Home all the time. But you can shop online. Lekker Home delivers in the United States and if you call them, anywhere in the world.

Birds N Trees Brown Silicone Placemats by Modern-Twist – price: $22 USD
+ Coaster Notz Pebbles – price: $22.50 for a set of 4
+ Bread Bag Black/Sand by Stelton – price: $32
+ UTILO Teastick by Blomus – price: $21
+ Kahla Elixyr Collection – price: $78 for a 5-piece set
+ Web site of Modern-Twist


Mood board for the 2008 Super Bowl party

super bowl tablescape idea

With less than 2 weeks before the big game, it is time to finalize your design. You know me; I am going for a stylish look. So I compiled a mood board to get you started.

My best advice is to stay away from the easy and expected props to celebrate the Super Bowl. The trick is to find an inspiration and to harmonize the rest.

Vintage meets modern

My design kicked in with these cute vintage football plates. A glass set completes the series inspired by classic 1940s artwork. A new addition to the Williams-Sonoma catalogue, each set shows a quarterback, a cheerleader, a punter and a running back.

Some of your guests may be die-hard fans. A kicker can be to serve walnuts as a snack during the game. The dark wooden bowl is a two in one serving ware piece: the bowl integrates the nutcracker. I suggest you get an extra nutcracker so no one fight for one.

You can serve nuts in a carafe like I have seen at Westin Casuarina in Las Vegas. Very hygienic, the shape pours easily the nuts in your hand without touching the nuts.

It is also a great time to serve Almond Croccante and Peanut Brittle. Read my Homemade tricks and treats post for the recipes.

Football field Invitation and Centerpiece

This water color invitation by Oddballs sets the tone of your Super Bowl event. The same idea is translated into a playing field made of flats of wheatgrass covered with miniature plastic football players.

I took this Super Bowl theme centerpiece from the In Style Parties book. Instead of wheatgrass available at the florist, you could stop by the garden center for a sample of turf. Or even, use artificial turf as a reference to what they installed in most stadiums.

Each Football Guys package at Kaskey Kids includes 26 players, one referee and two goalposts. There is no need to over pack your wheatgrass field; use just enough players to look great. The washable felt field can become a thematic tablecloth. You may find a similar kit at a hobby store near you.

About the presentation

Have a signature drinks. I am in my margarita phase sine I went to Vegas. Drop ice cubes into the tube insert to keep your drinks cool with watering it.

For dessert, serve long tubular cupcakes. With a cap, cupcakes look more stylish. For details on how to make them, see my muffin presentation. Use raffia ribbons of the color of the opposing teams. The square cake stand carries on this most modern look.

I hope you get fun participating in this national pastime event.

Buy online: Super Bowl party invitations by Oddballs at Fine Stationery – price:$83.90 for 30 custom prints, $33.90 as blank stock
Buy online: Vintage Football Plates at Williams-Sonoma – price:$29.99 for a set of 4
Buy online: Vintage Football Glasses at Williams-Sonoma – price:$24 for a set of 4
Buy online: Nut Bowl & Cracker at Williams-Sonoma – price:$75
Buy online: Football Guys at Kaskey Kids – price: $25.99
Buy online: Icing Pitcher at Williams-Sonama – price: $18
Buy online: Square Cakestand at William-Sonoma – price: small $48, large $65
Buy online: In Style Parties at


Cool tea light holders from Sagaform

glass globe and hold tealight holders by sagaform

Candle lights are crucial to any table top. Cleverly spreading many holders over the table makes a statement. The possibilities are infinite.

One brand that I like a lot for entertaining is Sagaform of Sweden with their unique modern design.

For a modern look, the colorful GLASS GLOBE tea light holders by Sagaform will not go unnoticed. Available in two sizes (5 inches and 7 inches), I particularly like the two color effect. GLASS GLOBE glass tea light holders exist in a hanging holder version and a candlestick.

Sagaform innovates again with HOLD Designer Tealight Lantern, a donut shape tea light holder. What makes the HOLD unique is its integrated serving tray that doubles as a tea light storage. The removable top can be used the bottom as a serving tray for tapas. This model works best on a coffee table when you sip a cocktail.

Stock a few for you and buy more to bring as a hostess gift.

+ Glass Tealight Ball L-BT – price: £14.99 for the large
+  HOLD Tealight holder – price: £15.99


Caveman Theme for a 40th Birthday Party | Real-Life Party

caveman theme for an adult birthday party

Denise, a reader, can teach us a lesson or two about party themes. She likes parties and it shows. Her design looks amazing. She is obviously talented but her strength is to let her imagination flows and she is not afraid to put the efforts.

Many of her parties include rentals, new accessories mixed with things that she already owned. But not this one.

Denise developed the Caveman theme for the 40th birthday of one of her friends. For her own words, this over the hill birthday party was easy to prepare. And with her tips, you will know what to look for if your wish to experience the prehistoric charms for a night.

This tabletop for 12 guests costs less than $100, in fact $7-8 per person. Denise found everything locally and at really good prices. Let’s review how she did it.

The decorative elements

The dinosaurs belong to her kids. The stone chargers come from the home improvement centre. Denise roughly cut the edges. Then she decorated the economical stepping stones with a brown craft paint and dirt to simulate old stones.

Nice touches can be found everywhere in her tablescape. That is the attention to details that make her design successful. For a more rustic look, she used brownish washcloth instead of textile napkins. The texture of the washcloth works well in these surroundings. You could display a simple canvas or if you are willing to spend more, natural pure linen napkins as long as they are not hemstitched.

The food was all served in baskets and plates that she had. She used her own glass and silverware. She slightly tore the top brown grocery sacks to serve bread and potato wedges.

The “egg” planters were under $5 each. If you cannot find similar pots, Denise suggested you make your own vases out of paper maché.

The fur fabric and the black & white spot textile for the back of the chairs are widely available, juts go to a local textile store. You need about 2 yards for the tablecloth. She used plastic bones from a costume store to hold the fabric on the back of the chair. For a more authentic look, Denise suggests actual bones from your butcher. Just make sure to bleach them well before.

The “vines” were military camouflage nets which can cost less than $20. She hanged them under or on the side of her canopy tent. Go to China town or a store like Urban Outfitters to find similar paper lanterns. If you cannot find them in the right color, buy them white and paint them. Ask the craft store for the most suitable paint.

Be prepared

Once you got and tried all the elements, setting up the table goes pretty fast. The important thing is to try putting your elements together before the event. This way, you can resolve possible problems or find out what is missing. Preparation is the key for a stress free event.

I hope that by seeing this whimsical yet stylish Caveman tablescape, Denise and I inspire you to be creative for your next milestone party. In a few days, you will discover the insights of a more elaborate party Denise did in 2004.

Photo credits: dbaker’s Caveman Party photos – copyright photos by Denise


Swedish design tableware with Höganäs Keramik

modern scandinavian tableware by Hoganas Keramik

This tableware collection integrates the lessons of modern Scandinavian design. Simple beautiful lines modulate into perfect functionality.

Making life at the dining table more beautiful, more pleasant and more practical resumes the philosophy behind Höganäs Keramik since 1909. They are not afraid to mandate open minded Scandinavian designers and it shows.

Like the little black dress, this product series is versatile. Plates and bowls are offered in a variety of shapes from round, square and triangular The possibilities do not stop with shapes since everything is available in ten colored glazes.

Lots of options in colors and in shapes

With no many options, you can personalize your table settings at will for all occasions. Savor your breakfast, use the Pick Up tray for a quick coffee and sandwich at lunch and then serve the dinner at the table while never feeling like you use the same set.

A tableware collection designed for every day usage. Yet, it can look amazing for a formal dinner. It does not stop at the dining table. You infuse a dash of color in your kitchen too. Equip your kitchen with complementary jars, mixing bowls, serving bowls, dishes, pitchers, tea pot with a strainer, herb pots and cooking tools.

Höganäs Keramik is sold around the world. It is distributed in Canada and the United States. Look at their Web site for details.

Learn more: Store Locator of Höganäs Keramik


Beautiful accessories for winter entertaining at Cox and Cox

winter entertaining ideas at Cox and Cox Mailorder

The product selection at UK Cox and Cox Mailorder emphasizes a nostalgic and retro feel. The two founders, Fiona Cox and Lizzie Thornton-Allan take inspiration from childhood memories with a contemporary twist. Their concept works since I experience a warm feeling every time I visit their Web site.

With a background in catalogue design and styling, these women understand the appeal of well presented products.

My product selections for dinner parties

The pouring bowl and the roasting dish by Sophie Conran for Portmeiron are shown at the top. Even if I introduced this tableware collection before, the pictures were too beautiful to pass.

The Heart shaped Olive Oil Dipping Dish is cute. I received a similar set of 4 individual size dipping dishes from my mother in law last year. I find the levels are practical. You can remove the extra oil before eating your bite piece.

For a touch of casual elegance, write with a chalk or a chinagraph pencil (wax pencil) the name of each guests on either a Zinc Chandelier Place Tag. You can simply tie the around a napkin with the wired raffia or to the chair.

If you are invited, your host will be delighted if you show up at the door with these Robin egg soaps as the hostess gift. These gentle vegetable soaps are not just pretty. Chamomile and meadowsweet deliver a soothing effect while oatmeal and bran speckles supply some exfoliation power.

If you have a steady hand, go for a cheese wire since it is less messy than a knife. This one has an interesting design. After a few wine glasses, be warned that less perfect slices can introduce teasing and laughers at the table.

Cox and Cox Mailorder ships internationally but if this is for a gift, place your order well in advance.

Buy online: Sophie Conran Pouring Bowl at Cox and Cox – price: £16
Buy online: Sophie Conran Roasting Dish at Cox and Cox – price: £36
Buy online: Olive Oil Dipping Dish at Cox and Cox – price: £20
Buy online: Zinc Heart or Chandelier Place Tags at Cox and Cox – price: £15 for a pack of 6
Buy online: Robins Egg French Soaps at Cox and Cox – price: £18 for a box of 6 egg shaped soaps
Buy online: Cheese Wire at Cox and Cox – price: £24


Handmade porcelain collection of Mud Australia

porcelain tableware by mud australia

Since I started this blog, my desires to collect porcelain dishes keep growing. And Mud Australia does everything for stimulating my desire with a wide array of colors, shapes, formats and an handmade feeling.

If you are on the market for everyday porcelain dinnerware that you can dress up for a friendly dinner, look no further than this collection by Mud Australia.

Handmade by ceramists using the best materials available, you see how amazing they can look on your table. In fact, your table is almost self-decorated if you cleverly mix colors.

Mud Australia ceramics are available in Australia, a few stores in Canada, in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, New Zealand, Hong Kong, the United States, Singapore and the United Kingdom.

More to come from a local ceramicist

As you may recalled, I bought a few handmade dishes by Ceramik B, a Montreal ceramicist before Christmas when visiting the Souk @ SAT. I could not resist. Her pieces share the same idea: a handmade glazed inside, stone-like outside finish but the treatment is poles apart. I promise to show you my new acquisitions in the upcoming weeks. I am looking for the ideal menu to showcase the pieces.

Learn more: Stockists of Mud Australia
Via: Mud Australia published on Bloesem