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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!!!

France Home Living Tables

Brand Spotlight: Beeswax Candles with Apis Cera

November 29, 2018

I love the simple elegance of beeswax candles and have had my eye on these beauties since last year when I discovered this French brand, Apis Cera, via Jamie Beck of Ann Street Studio.   It was a pleasure to befriend the owner and I was so pleased to receive two boxes of the Lucienne tapers which come as a set of 9 this past month, just in time for the holiday season (and our Thanksgiving table, see below).   The packaging is exquisite but more importantly, the candles are light and lovely, burn beautifully and free of all the pollutants and additives which make up many taper candles.   I love that each is rolled by hand with natural ingredients and think that they would make the most wonderful hostess or holiday present this season.

They look beautiful in these crystal candlestick holders and also in silver, and I love the idea of burning this one on a cold gray morning while you’re working at your desk, and would use these for bath time — the epitome of simple luxury!  Below is a picture of the box and tissue, a beautiful presentation.

Entertaining Home Living Martha's Vineyard Tables

An Approachable & Fun Fall Table

September 12, 2018

We are just back to the Vineyard after traveling down to New York this past weekend to photograph a huge wedding weekend.    It was a beautiful and joyful few days with the most loving (and in love) couple who have become fast friends.   I spent most of the day culling and editing, I like to get cracking as quickly as possible, and after a long evening run and a visit to the market, threw together this simple, easy table for our supper.

When we drove on to Martha’s Vineyard at the start of this month, it felt like entering a movie set:  sail boats drenched in the last light of day, balmy perfect weather, polished streets and old cars.   This time, we arrived to sixty degrees, pouring rain and whipping wind — and I loved it!!   We had a cozy stormy night with a hot soup and crusty bread with melted cheese — hit the spot.  The market is full of autumnal hues of dark burgundy, dirty pinks and mustard yellows.   Dahlias and sunflowers are in full swing.

I have been collecting colored candlesticks since I arrived.    I usually favor ivory but I love these salty gray blues which mirror the sea right behind the stone wall at the edge of the garden.    This is just a a simple set of five vases with mixed wild flowers, four candle sticks, a handful of votives, white plates and floral napkins — but a moment to pull together and endlessly romantic as the candle light flickers next to the rich, vibrant flowers.   Big, squishy pillows make the rustic chairs more tolerable for late evening chats, and there are a few spare wool blankets off to the side as the night air is a bit nippy (and I tend to run cold).

We drank a full-bodied chardonnay and a bottle of light red wine, perfect for the transition into fall, and had leftover soup, garlic bread and a salad full of vegetables from the farms.    Xx!

Entertaining France Style Tables

Setting the Table from Start to Finish

July 10, 2018

By now you know that I love a pretty table, especially one adorned with lots of flowers and candles.   I thought it might be a fun change of pace to talk about how I think about setting the table, and at the bottom, there’s a video of the entire process of getting ready for the evening with friends.Setting the table from Start to Finish - et voila!

We were so lucky to be able to pick up fresh flowers and produce from the market in St. Tropez on Saturdays and Tuesdays.   Peonies were in full swing, which is such a treat.   I visit the wholesale florist a lot at home in Charleston but there’s nothing quite like walking into a bustling market.   I kept the arrangements very simple (and usually do so).   I had some left over chicken wire which I curled up and submerged in the vessels.   Chicken wire is a great trick to support each stem (especially as the vase is shallow here and the peony is top-heavy), and to allow space between each flowerhead, thereby using less per-arrangement and also enabling them to stay still!   These peonies were this open the day that I bought them and still lasted nearly a week — miraculous!  I ended up putting the lavender in the bathrooms rather than on the table.   I don’t love to use too many strong scents when setting the table.

Setting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy CuneoSetting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy CuneoSetting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy Cuneo

I rarely place a napkin on top of a plate in day to day practice but these puppies are so enormous and the monogram suits this fold.    These napkins are vintage French linens which have been hand dyed in this amazing French blue… they make my heart sing!  The tablecloth is the same, and is a slightly different shade but the thick weight of the linen is so beautiful and it was a pleasure setting the table with them on top of these Chinese plates which I picked up at the brocante.    Now to the arrangement of the fork, knife and spoon. Typically I place my spoon outside the knife, even if it’s for dessert but we had English guests and this is how they do it… makes sense as it’s the last to be used!

Setting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy Cuneo - top up!

I love transferring all the drinks (water, wine) that we’re bringing to the table into glass carafes — simple, pretty and an instant upgrade.   It’s also helpful if you’re like us and you’re drinking rosé from the box…which is far more normal in France… 🙂Setting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy Cuneo

These etched glasses are a favorite, sadly they’re not available anymore but I absolutely love this set and have it at home (in full).  Setting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy Cuneo - Candles!

I try to stagger plates/flowers so that the flowers never block a view.  I would prefer candlelight in front of each place vs. flowers as it’s more flattering.  I try to be aware of the view, and try to think about the table from the guest’s perspective. Setting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy Cuneo Setting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy Cuneo Setting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy CuneoSetting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy Cuneo

Now to getting dressed up for dinner, and to an onslaught of photographs of this dress!   I wore a dress and sweater to dinner most nights, and always changed out of my clothes from the day.    Some nights were more casual and I particularly love how this one (and it comes in blue, too) can dress up or down and still feels feminine and comfortable.  It also breathes so well in the heat.   And, cheers to these earrings which I wore a million times….!

Setting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy CuneoSetting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy Cuneo - Love these earrings! Setting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy Cuneo Setting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy Cuneo Setting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy Cuneo Setting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy Cuneo Setting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy CuneoSetting the table from Start to Finish - Lucy Cuneo

See the video below !! XX

 

France Tables

France Nights: Dinner Al Fresco

June 5, 2018

Sorry to have missed our collecting post yesterday — we’re planning a double for next week because two topics were getting intertwined and I wanted to make it a longer/more extended/informative post.   Will and I went to the Jas Des Robert this last Sunday which is an open air antique market.   We arrived all too late with our baby in tow but are planning to return next week to see more because it was amaaaaazing, full of silver and glass, linens and treasures, Will was joking that we’re going to need a shipping container because there were several marble tables which I couldn’t stop chatting about and now I have an idea of picking up lots of linens to sell in the States.      We also welcomed a new group of friends late last week and spent the weekend relaxing with them in the rainy weather with two beach days in a row — such a treat!

This table is from a week ago when we had our first set of friends here, all of whom really enjoyed throwing together a beautiful setting for the evening.    My friend Anne (Charleston Stems) was here and arranging the most beautiful flowers, and Augusta from Easton Events threw this one together with such ease!

I love these pillows in background which make the bench so cozy, and of course every table we set was littered in candles.

Some of these roses are from my grandmother’s garden which supplies a seemingly endless amount.  Of course we have been enjoying all too much rosé and the alka seltzer is really in full force as a part of my daily routine here — worth it! xx

 

 

 

France Tables Travel

Welcome To France !!!!

May 24, 2018

Hi Guys!  We have officially arrived in France!  We cannot wait to show you all of the beauty around the property and in the nearby towns.   We have a group of friends with us and have already stayed up way too late but I wanted to quickly show you this pretty table that we set last night for dinner — we were twelve crammed in by the fire outside and it was lovely!   Anne from Charleston Stems and Augusta from Easton Events are both here and so it’s a group who loves to lay the table.

Anne plucked these wild flowers from the property — they are exquisite!   And the roses are in full bloom now that the sun is out.

More shortly !! xxx

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