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Charleston Entertaining Holiday Tables

How to Create the Perfect Moody & Rich Holiday Table with Blake Sams!

December 23, 2018

We’re finally settled at home and are getting into the Christmas spirit.   December was an amazing month packed with our final weddings of the year, lots of travel and a few nights at home which were spent over the dinner table with friends.

Gregory Blake Sams is a well-regarded wedding planner and designer here in Charleston.   I was initially drawn to him because of his eye and style which I admire so much and am fortunate to call him a friend.  I love spending time with him not only because he makes me howl with laughter but because I always learn something new — whether he introduces me to a new china pattern,  plant, room arrangement or family history, he has an encyclopedic mind, is so talented and a treat to spend time with.

What a privilege it was to snap a few photographs of this holiday dinner party he set in his home.    I had to ask him how he did it — he makes it all look so easy !!   Read on to hear more about his inspiration! We’ll be trying to lay a similar table on Christmas day…

I love how rich and lush this table is; it mixes classic pieces with fresh, unexpected touches.   Tell us how it came to be!

I love playing with my grandmother’s china and silver and by layering unexpected pieces (like malachite), the table feels more current.   The theme was “lush” and “abundant” — it was intended to be a decadent night, and it was!   The holidays is the perfect time to spoil your loved ones, and we mixed in lots of fresh fruits (locally sourced and some from Trader Joe’s), with sensational, vibrant and fluffy flowers.

We started simply by rearranging some furniture —  we wanted the table to feel cozy and intimate, and a large green velvet sofa provided the perfect banquette.   We pulled a chocolate Belgian linen as a moody but neutral tablecloth and then gathered every silver candlestick in the house, along with several beautiful estate pieces from our friends at Croghan’s Jewel Box, as we felt the room should be lit only by candles.    The vintage malachite placemats pop well against the Ginori plates — a classic. We then layered in compotes and vessels full of fruits, berries, and exotic date palms. The central arrangement which stretches throughout has an ombre pattern which makes the table feel original.

What principals do you always follow when setting the table:

Set it, walk away, come back and take one thing away!

What are fun dinner party activities for the holidays ?

I am in love with these pass the parcel oranges — every layer reveals a fun present, joke or surprise…. The  perfect relief after a few heavy courses and a bit less expected than a cracker!

How do you mix florals and fruits, do you watch out for certain color combinations:

It’s always a balance of size, scale, and color.  For this arrangement, it was important to stay with those rich ruby tones, so the pop of orange citrus and date palms looked beautiful in the dark room. I always think it is important for fruit and flowers to be placed in a way that it would grow in nature.  Things that hang down should hang down etc.

Do you have a favorite holiday cocktail?

I consistently enjoy a Manhattan over the holidays! We always keep a well stocked bar here at the house and office so that every guest can have what he or she wishes!  We’re all about making people feeling their most happy and relaxed.

And we did! xxx!!!

Charleston Style

Classic Fall Style with Brooks Brothers: One Jacket, Two Ways

October 10, 2018

About a month ago, a few people asked me if I could come up with a capsule wardrobe.    I have been working on it, and I find it surprisingly challenging for my disorganized brain (it’s just not the way it works!!) but, it did get me thinking about elegant wardrobe staples and how critical those are in helping one pop out the door feeling pulled together quickly.   For me, those staples are a tailored white button down (and I like to keep several of the same shirt so a few are always in rotation, ironed and hung up in the closet), a timeless camel hair blazer and cashmere which lasts season after season.   In steps Brooks Brothers, an iconic American company with phenomenal quality and classic pieces.


I have been on the hunt for a white shirt for my “uniform” since the ones that I was collecting before are no longer being made.   I have been holding onto them until their last thread but am pleased to report that I have found my new everyday shirt here.  This one is crisp, classic and fitted in the right places without pulling across the chest (I am a size 4).   The sleeves are great length and have pretty detail.  I have been advised by the Brooks Brothers team that the one I am wearing here is great for this type of look, and this one is even better for wearing underneath a sweater because it has the perfect crisp collar — so good to know!

A camel jacket is inherently versatile, timeless and warm.  I really like the weight of this one, which feels like it would be in your closet forever.   It suits well over the white button down and jeans, as well as draped or worn over a sweater for cooler weather.  This style is enduring, can be worn at any age and is the epitome of American elegance.    I particularly love it over this monochromatic outfit of burgundy ankle-length cords and these leather wingtips which brings in a of “cool” masculine/feminine vibe.  Of course, the white shirt would look great as a swap for the turtleneck on cooler days.  And, I also love this jacket (checked twill) as well as this plaid-wool one.   Saddle bag linked here! Xx

Charleston Entertaining Home Style

India Hicks Get Together

October 4, 2018

Last month, we opened our home to the India Hicks Tribe and hosted one of their Get Togethers in Charleston.

Having long admired India’s style and burgeoning lifestyle brand, it was a great opportunity to get an in person look at the new Collection, and find out a bit more about the Ambassador opportunity.    I have to say, I have had such a positive experience with the brand, and with the brand ambassadors.    Everybody I have encountered through the program is just lovely and it was a pleasure to host a Get Together in Charleston.

I adore India’s latest collection because it’s all about stars — my favorite!    I particularly love the jewelry and little star bag which would be perfect for evening.   And, regular readers will know that I am partial to a scented candle and I have to admit that since receiving the Casuarina Candle from India Hicks this summer, I have become hopelessly addicted to the fragrance, which now travels with us & is a great present to give as well (a really good one for the present cupboard as it’s universally loved). 


  1.  Star Pouch     2. Star & Moon Necklace (it’s reversible)      3. Falling Star earrings      4. Passport cover     5. Travel mask


It is true to say that we have travelled a great deal this summer and often we have adapted our plans as new opportunities have arisen.  The gracious and charming IH Ambassador who helped me plan my Get Together was beyond patient and accommodating in setting up our date, after many stops and starts. 

Our Ambassador was Margaret, a seasoned member of the Tribe, who was an absolute joy to welcome into our home, a power hostess in her own right, so kind, thoughtful and efficient.  It was a real joy to discover that we already had so many connections in common, which is one of the other benefits of these events: making new friends.    Here are some pictures of the set up, what fun it was to see it all laid out in our home:

As a host you have the choice – in IH speak to make the event about ‘goods’, where the Host can purchase items from the collection at a discount, or about ‘goodies’, where a percentage of the sales from the Get Together go to a charity of the host’s choice. We are pleased to say that proceeds generated from our GT have been donated to the Surfrider foundation, which is dedicated to protecting and enjoying the world’s ocean, waves and beaches.

If you are interested in hosting an IH Get Together, information can be found here. If you have interest in becoming an Ambassador, information can be found here… I highly recommend!

Charleston Home

Cozy At Home with The New Traditionalists

September 28, 2018

One of the reasons I love travel so much is that I feel most inspired when I am in a new place.   I am at my most observant upon arrival, taking in what I want to photograph, what I find the most special about the environment, what feels fresh and what I can create there.    After a long summer away, I took in our home with similar fresh eyes and excitement but also with a newfound appreciation for how important it is to feel rooted at this stage in our lives.

Perhaps some of that fresh excitement was also due to our new bed which arrived just before we left for most of the summer.  We were so grateful to have an opportunity to design it with The New Traditionalists in New York (made in Connecticut) this past winter, and were thrilled to see it come to life.   Some of you caught a peek in this post here which explained more about our design process/experience but we just showed a snippet of the bed in that post.   This was because we still have things we’d like to do to our bedroom and were only home for a flash and a flurry but, I wanted to show you a bit more of it in context now that we have started nesting again.    

While our bedroom still has some aesthetic changes I would like to make (swapping out bedside tables, adding some lighting, etc.),  we are over the moon with the bed and so taking the rest at a leisurely pace; truly we have more than enough already and feel the ingredients for a serene bedroom are all here: cozy fabrics, candles, textures, gentle colors…

The bed is obviously the central feature of the room.   I absolutely adore the Schumacher headboard, and have always loved four posters (I grew up sleeping in a much narrower one).    One thing that I loved about working with The New Traditionalists is that you can select any paint color for your piece.   I went with a very clean white which felt appropriate for our sun-drenched city.  I have always loved the peaceful combination of white and blue, and the headboard lends a less obvious french blue shade.  Also, we are also both sleeping very well so high off the ground…

We aren’t the only ones who are thrilled with how it is all coming together…

A few other touches I always try to add to make our room feel more complete, no matter what “stage” it is in are: layers of soft textures for coziness, photographs of family to bring joy and happy memories, peaceful art (in this case, I have Japanese mirrors and English plates, both from my grandmother), and good coffee table books which I often look through in the morning to maximize time off my phone….

My new favorite shoes!  More on those shortly…xx

Charleston Home Style

My Dream Bed with The New Traditionalists

August 1, 2018

First, I want to apologize for being a bit quiet.    We had friends in town, and then my mother with whom I spent several days buckled down and focused on getting the house in order.   After a busy wedding season this past spring, and then traveling for five weeks, there was a lot of outstanding house organizing that needed to be finished.   We are also finally getting around to really nesting and taking the house to the next level of decorating — from getting some of my late grandmother’s pieces out (like a large Japanese silk screen which now sits in the front hall), to finally dropping fabric for the curtains at the workroom, and things like that… exciting!    Will and I also like to take pause every once in a while to think about the bigger picture for this site, and for our businesses in general; so that is what we have been up to — nothing to scintillating but lots of housekeeping !   Now, onto the more exciting bit….

We were simultaneously thrilled and crushed to have our new bed that we designed in partnership with the New Traditionalists arrive just two days before we left for France.    I was so enamored with it and was so sad to leave it having only had two sleeps but it was one of the real highlights of coming home.

I have been on the hunt for our “adult” bed for many years but couldn’t find the perfect match.   One of the things that attracted me to The New Traditionalists is that the design is influenced by classic silhouettes, exceptional clothing, history and holds the idea that the “traditional” is still very cool (an idea that we of course hold too).   I love that as a customer, you can completely customize the piece, thereby designing something that is very “you”.   In this case, I took this design and made the following changes:   lowered the headboard, covered it in this fabric, squared off the top, made all of the posts square, and opted for a white wash which fits our breezy Charleston bedroom.   One of the coolest things is that they can also match any Benjamin Moore paint color — for a split second I thought about a more wild blue but stuck with the white as I want this bed to ours forever!

By the way, the changes took me a while to decide on, and I was guided through the process in the most lovely and helpful way.   I went to New York to work in the studio with the team in December, it is a very hands on experience and my only regret is that I didn’t go to Connecticut to see the bed being made there.

Last, we threw on some linen sheers from all four corners which makes it all the more cozy….

We are so grateful to have had the opportunity and are looking forward to showing you a bit more of what it looks like in the room as we reveal more of the house.

I love my Over The Moon Pajamas with custom monogram!!!  The whole collection is beautiful and as a converted pajama lover, these are a new favorite and an absolute “must”! xxx

Charleston Holiday Style

Three Wedding Guest Looks for Spring!!

May 15, 2018

As a wedding photographer, I always really enjoy seeing what the guests wear to the wedding — obviously the bride is the star, but I think it’s a really fun occasion to dress up and for everybody to feel their best together!  We’re attending two weddings as guests this summer and I am already plotting away.   Of course I couldn’t resist the opportunity to show off a few teaser pieces from our favorite local store, Hampden.   This first pink number is so floaty and etherial — it’s so comfortable and really fun to wear; if you have to attend a black tie event this spring/summer,  I highly recommend!

I especially love that the cutout back back makes the piece feel more womanly and flirty, and the waist band really pulls you in so that you have a defined waist.

This next look would be really fun for a lunch or more casual wedding.  I love how it feels preppy English 70’s and was so easy to wear.  A fitted top and a flair skirt is such a flattering combination in my opinion; this is an instant feel good outfit and I would wear the pieces separately a lot, too:

Last but not least is this little Zimmermann dress which is universally fantastic and could be worn to a number of events.   Wrap dresses are a staple for me, and even though this one felt shorter, it didn’t feel uncomfortably so at any point because the bottom is so flowy rather than tight/fitted.   I really felt great in all three of these and have linked to a few more options below!  xxx

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