The last few months of 2015 were a blur for me, in large part due to my participation in the Where Hope Has a Home project at the Ronald McDonald House Stanford. Although it may seem like it’s just furniture in a room, it took a year of space planning, soliciting sponsorship, raising funds for purchases, shipment delays, architectural changes, electrical changes, paint selections, lighting installations, designing custom-made pieces, construction delays, multiple deliveries, and more nights spent in a 35 degree building with no electricity and no heat than I’d like to think about. In short, the project was/is HUGE, and I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. We’re in the punch-list phase!
Each time I sit to down to write a post I am overwhelmed by all of the things that have happened since I last updated my blog. It’s apparent that I need to devote as much love to the blog as I do to my projects because it’s an awesome creative outlet that helps me connect with you in a way that my Facebook and Instagram posts cannot.
Having been chosen as a designer for the Where Hope Has a Home Project at the Ronald McDonald House Stanford, has been such a humbling and challenging experience. I am continually in awe of the design talent that has come together to make this very special building a beautiful, safe and comforting place for children and their families.
For so many reasons, Fall is my favorite time of year. Although we don’t really have an extreme change of seasons here in California, there’s a chill in the air, leaves on the ground and families come together to share love, laughs, and warmth. In my opinion it’s also the best ever when it comes to seasonal decor! I’m always looking for unexpected ways to evoke the feeling of Fall without going all thematic with it. You’ll never find a turkey or Pilgrim in my house but you’ll probably find a whole mess of twigs, branches and fantastic gourds in vintage urns, bowls and baskets.
When it comes to creating gorgeous seasonal vignettes the first place you need to look for inspiration is outside your front door. Fallen branches are my go-to every year for Fall decor because they’re perfect for bringing the outside in. It’s really windy where I live and branches are all over the ground most of the time. If you like a little more bling and a little less rustic, you can spray paint the branches gold. It’s a great metallic to mix with the oranges, browns and yellows of the season.
Whether they’re blooming, studded with acorns, flame-colored leaves or bare as can be, branches add dramatic elegance. When used in a simple vase, their height and shape are all that’s needed to make a statement.
I’m in love with the spare simplicity of this beautiful vignette. Pulling together objects you already own and displaying them in a different way is a great way to start. You can get this chic and welcoming look by arranging a grouping that includes a rattan basket filled with dried hydrangea, metal containers, a branch or two, an old black and white portrait or an offbeat oil and the single white pumpkin. It’s welcoming and interesting and can be changed up so easily by adding elements such as pine cones, or gold objects.
I was late in getting this post up but I adore this vignette. Something about the tiny bones, art and single spray vine says just enough to let you know it’s Halloween without having to try hard. I think it’s mysterious as well as melancholy. I’m always looking for beautiful natural objects to add to the mix. Found animal skulls, empty bird nests, naturally shed antlers..all of these things say “change of seasons” to me and I love the grace of things we don’t usually see, touch or understand.
I am ALL about white pumpkins. Stacked, grouped, piled in a basket, I think they’re absolutely stunning on a Fall mantel or used as a table centerpiece. They can be romantic when mixed with dried flowers, weathered architectural finds or mercury glass. Carve a white pumpkin and use it as a vase. Mix store bought nuts still in their shells such as almonds, pistachios, and walnuts with mini white pumpkins to add the sense of Fall in an unexpected way.
I’m also a fool for feathers! Pheasant, Crow, spotted Chicken…When grouped loosely in a vintage container they can totally change the feel of a vignette. By themselves, the papier mache white pumpkins allude to Halloween, but adding pheasant feathers to a modern white vase is decidedly Thanksgiving. Again, it’s the simplicity of the grouping that makes me smile. So much can be said without having to be over-the-top with your displays.
For a little more traditional Fall display, you can add vinyl transfer letter to small gourds, pumpkins, burlap garlands or even vintage clock faces and spell out phrases and welcome guests. Empty frames layered on top of one another is an awesome way to add depth. Look for worn, chipped frames with age and patina and add in a few rustic objects to finish off the vignette.
Milk glass is always perfect for any vignette but filled with dried wheat, grasses, or millet, as shown above, makes a perfect Fall addition. The great thing about dried elements is that you don’t have to worry about soil or water. A collection of smaller objects surrounding a milk glass urn such as dried leaves, small gourds, dried flowers and even seashells would speak to Fall warmth and wonder.
You definitely don’t need a lot of objects to make an impact and add beauty to your space. Think creatively, forage outdoors for found objects and make sure to use things that inspire you. Use color and shape to guide you – warm tones and soft curves – and play with different groupings until it feels right to you.
All the best,
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The past several months have been filled with blessings and challenges both personally and professionally and updating the blog has fallen woefully behind. Whereas I used to send out monthly newsletters keeping folks up-to-date on our wanderings, I’ve switched over to daily musings and updates via our Facebook page. If you haven’t already visited us there, we’d love to see you! I’m also really excited about my weekly columns on Houzz. Reader response has been fantastic and I’m getting to know so many amazing people through the sharing of design expertise and experiences. To read each week’s piece, make sure to check out Apartment 46’s idea books.
In May I finished a large garden project in the San Mateo hills, as well as worked on a complete renovation in Sunnyvale (ongoing), began the master bedroom of a Hayward Park home, put more touches on a San Francisco apartment, and did a few garden and home refreshes here and there throughout the Bay Area.
I’m still working on the Sunnyvale home, have started a second Hayward Park home, a Hillsdale home, and will be starting a San Jose garden project as well as a Hayward Park backyard. The San Mateo Hills garden project has been expanded to include more of the property so that’s happening this weekend and we have a Millbrae home on deck. It’s an understatement to say I’m blessed by the work because the clients I’ve been lucky enough to design for have been some of the kindest, funniest, and most interesting people I could have hoped to meet. I know there’s a definite design rule about crossing the client-to-friend border but it can’t be helped. The folks I know are just too damn awesome!
The shop is still doing custom floral and we’ve had the opportunity to do several super huge bouquets over the past couple of months. I really don’t believe that a house is a home without fresh flowers and greenery. Floral arrangements are something we’ll always offer because we feel it’s such an intrinsic part of making a space more lovely.
Our relationship with One Kings Lane is going strong and we’ve continued to sell unique vintage items in their weekly flash sales. If you haven’t already made an account, please click on the OKL banner on the right of our blog and make one. Registering through our page helps our small business and lets OKL where you heard of them. They never spam and they always have beautiful things on offer.
I’ve been really focused on vintage art and have so many great pieces in the shop at any given time it’s impossible to post them all. This 1970’s era black, white and gold abstract is currently for sale. Although it’s over 30 years old, it feels fresh and modern and would be gorgeous above a console, leaned against a larger piece on a mantel or even put in a guest bath as a point of interest. Every home needs “real” art and it doesn’t have to be something big and expensive to be meaningful. Art is a room-changer. Whether you’re into abstract, illustrative or oils, there are as many ways to add art to your space as there are artists. I personally think gallery walls are an exciting way to mix various smaller pieces to create an interesting tableau.
Sometimes the smallest accents make the biggest impact. Many times I’m hired to provide the finishing touches to homes that have all the basics — sofa, tables, television — but are missing the warmth. It’s so important that a home reflect the people who live there and I am thankful every day that I get to continue doing what I love most, which is adding beauty to Bay Area homes and gardens.
I’m hoping to post photos of my recently completed projects very soon and if you haven’t been by the shop in a while, you know we’d love to see you.
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Whether you’re like me, and the thought of having large groups of people over gives you hives, or you’re the frequently entertaining-type, it’s the time of year to invite folks over to fill our homes with the love, laughter and warmth. Inviting people to come into your home is a universal sign of generosity, and guests should feel welcome and special when they enter your space.
I have always loved the extra effort that’s made during the holiday season. Making sure the house is clean, decorating for the season, using the “good” china and creating a sense of abundance through food and drink makes me feel honored and appreciated as a guest.
Setting the scene in your holiday home doesn’t have to be a complex endeavor. Using tarnished and well-loved silver bowls filled with piles of white gourds or tiny orange kumquats adds a sense of whimsy to the table setting. I’ve always leaned toward eclectic (can you tell?) and I love the organic and unexpected. It’s a guarantee that I’ll be serving drinks in vintage glassware as I find it far more interesting, and I’ll be opening cupboards wide to see what I can use to hold flowers, drinks, displays and of course, food!
Taking those Halloween pumpkins and turning them into a interesting modern table display is a chic way to re-use what you already have. The pumpkins above have been spray-painted with low sheen acrylic and grouped with similarly shaped ceramic bud vases. They would also look amazing with mismatched milk glass, or even other painted fruit like pomegranates and squash.
Silver always works to add sparkle and elegance. Make votive holders out of vintage goblets and looking glass spray. You’ll get the look of antique mercury glass except it will be that much cooler because you made them yourself! Take objects from elsewhere in your home and incorporate them into vignettes on the table, such as the silver pheasants that were previously on the bookshelf. Vintage linens make excellent table covers and if you don’t happen to have the right size, then layer several for a Victorian-romantic style and sprinkle with dried petals.
Creating impromptu bouquets from garden herbs and produce is a very unexpected way to decorate. I am extremely fond of purple artichokes and every time I’ve used them in an arrangement, they are noticed. By visiting the vegetable aisles at the organic market you can find fantastic things to add to your holiday vases. I really hate the taste of kale, but it’s gorgeous in a bright white vase mixed with black basil and artichokes. Bud vases look amazing filled with delicate stems of rosemary and thyme and placed around the room. Add a few appropriately sized fallen branches or twigs and you have a gorgeous conversation starter!
Serving up hot cocoa and butterscotch Schnapp’s (my fave!) in vintage jadeite mugs with a side of hand-made marshmallows is fancy twist on a very simple, but heart-warming treat. In fact, using vintage glass in unexpected ways adds both color and beauty to your party setting.
Filled with unscented soy wax and cotton wicks (available at most craft stores), you can create gorgeous candles that that guests can take home as a parting gift when they leave.
Use vintage dessert cups to hold varying shades of succulents and mix them in with the candles. You cannot go wrong with such a pretty display! These also make wonderful take-home treats for visitors as succulents live a long time, and guests can replant them in their own gardens.
Create a unique buffet-style station of small-bites or sweets by clearing off a console and displaying foods with props that fit the occasion. The tall stalks of wheat in clear vases and white gourds make this display appropriately Thanksgiving-ish. I love giant glass containers filled with branches so that I can drape the branches in strands of beads, pearls, or strings of tiny white lights.
Not everyone has the budget or the room for an actual bar cart, so an easy way to set up a great little libation station is to use a table-top set with trays, glasses, and a selection of alcohol and accoutrements. Another option is to use your fireplace mantel if you have one. Even in a small space, you can set up a station in the kitchen that still looks party-ready.
Allowing folks to serve themselves creates a more relaxed atmosphere with a better flow. It’s always awkward to have to ask the host/hostess for more wine and it’s tiring to keep track of who is running low. Of course you still need to keep your eye on that hard-drinking friend you have that may need to crash on the couch but most people can handle serving themselves.
So whether you go big or small this season, think creatively about how to turn your space into a warm and welcoming space that makes your guests feel both relaxed and special. They should feel like they can serve themselves, but also feel as if they’re being taken care of. When you open your home, you are also opening your heart, and I hope that you’re able to fill both with loads of love!
Best wishes, Melisa
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Desiree and Jeremy were married at Crystal Springs in Burlingame, California, in June 2012. We are so grateful to Carlos Hernandez for taking such awesome photos and for allowing us to use them on our site.
The ceremony overlooked one of the most gorgeous nature preserves in Northern California, and it was important that we didn’t take anything away from the natural surroundings, so we chose to decorate the gazebo with a simple bough made of King Protea, vintage pearl strands, and an early 1900’s papier mache garland made for a theatre in London.
Included in her flowers and in her groom’s boutonniere were two small, turquoise, skull stick pins that she had carefully chosen to make her day more meaningful.
We also designed a floral hair comb of bright pink roses and Dusty Miller for the bride to wear under her mantilla-style veil at the ceremony, and reveal at her reception.
For the guest sign in table, the bride had provided family photos and some very special accessories, such as a rosary, a gorgeous Frida Kahlo art book (to be used as the guest book), and a large, turquoise vase, that we filled with flowers. We created a sort of altar and added mismatched mercury glass votive holders, a scattering of spray roses, and an antique, handmade, lace table cover.
All of the reception tables were covered in different handmade lace table covers that we had individually tea-dyed to create a rustic look. We created centerpieces out of vintage silver compotes surrounded by mismatched mercury glass votive holders.
The Sweetheart table was covered in a lace tablecloth and included a set of cups, filled with succulents, that spelled out “Amor”. We added mismatched mercury glass votive holders to give it extra sparkle
The bride chose an amazing spread of candy for her guests that they could mix-and-match and take home as favors. We found a source for her on Etsy that made vintage-style adhesive labels that the guests used these to seal up their glassine bags of treats.
We also found a phenomenal Ex Voto (votive offering) for the couple to use as the cake topper.
We are so lucky to have been a part of this special couple’s day and we know they’re destined for a life of love, laughter and endless adventure!
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Marlene and Robert were married in Pleasanton in May, 2012, at the gorgeous Palm Event Center. We are so fortunate to have had the day, (and our floral designs), captured in the stunning images provided by Duy Ho Photography.
An aside: 2011 was a year full of opportunities, changes and challenges on both personal and professional levels. When I stop to think about it (and I often do), I am overwhelmed with the amount of love our amazing friends and clients have shared with us these past twelve months.
Changing the format of our blog meant shifting content into specific buckets. While this makes things so much easier to find, it also means that unless you’re looking, you may miss our latest work!
I don’t usually devote blog space to weddings or wedding-related wedding-ness but I am so excited to have come across some fabulous new stuff that I had to share it.