Come on Over! Styling Your Holiday Home

Image courtesy of Jess Country Flowers

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.

Gourds and glittery ornaments in a weathered silver bowl

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.

Apartment 46 table setting

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!

Image courtesy of Second Hand with Style

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.

Image courtesy of the Daily Grommet

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.

Image courtesy of Interior Design Musings

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.

Image courtesy of Fabulous on a Budget

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.

Image courtesy of Minimalisti

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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Dez and Jeremy’s Wedding

All images courtesy of Carlos Hernandez Photography

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.

All images courtesy of Carlos Hernandez Photography

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.

The beautiful bride has a love for Frida Kahlo, Day of the Dead, and vintage eclectic, and wanted to honor her Mexican heritage with a colorful and creative bouquet, as well as interesting decor.

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!
Much love,


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Blooming Wonderful

Test arrangement for Nellie's upcoming wedding

I can hardly believe it’s “that” time of year again but yes, yes it is indeed! Wedding season snuck up on me in the form of lovely Anel “Nellie” Resendez and her upcoming uber colorful and equally large wedding. While the actual event is still a month away, I’ve been busily testing (and re-testing) color arrangements until I come up with one that I feel suitably embodies her exuberant, creative and fun spirit. Regardless of the outcome, bright pink peonies will be the star flower in that bouquet!

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Harvest Time!

Last week I was out in my garden looking for interesting things to incorporate into my shop arrangements and it occurred to me that I hadn’t really explored my various succulents or other garden greenery beyond the obvious (rosettes wired on a floral stem or long pieces of Jasmine branches) so I grabbed my shears and got to harvesting the weird and the wonderful!

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Floral Wonderland

One of the things I most enjoy about floral design is coming up with unexpected arrangements. I have always had a little love affair with the baby artichoke as used in floral design but only recently decided that it is perfectly married to the hydrangea. Combining the two in a striking blue and white Chinese vase and popping in some blue berries and meadow grass made the whole thing feel kind of otherworldly to me. Something I would have on my own mantel or dressing table. I don’t tend to veer toward arrangements that are too soft or feminine. I like them to be weird. That’s really my number one criteria. If it’s pretty and weird, I’m sure to love it.

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It’s Wedding Season!

Although I am always saying that I am not a florist, I enjoy providing special occasion flowers and creating something beautiful. I was extremely honored to be asked to put together something very small and meaningful for a couple that is getting married today in San Francisco.

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Succulent Love!

I confess that I am a new convert to the joy of succulents. Growing up I was never drawn to them but my mother had a hulking mass of one in our yard that seemed to always be freezing to death and coming back to life. Other than that, it wasn’t very spectacular to me.

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