Dressing A Holiday Table
When holiday tables are set to the nines, the overall look can seem a bit uptight. Hosting your own seasonal soirée doesn't have to be a grand affair to leave a good impression on guests. Here are a few simple ways to keep the fa la las flowing and your festive decor from feeling too stiff.
1. Layer your linens. If your runner isn't long enough for the expanded table or you just want to add more texture and pattern, layering your table linens adds charm and makes use of linens you may not have thought to use for the holidays. Play with colour and pattern to give your table some life — stark white can feel too formal for the holidays unless accompanied by colourful accessories.
2. Mix-up your dinnerware and glassware. Try different water goblets, wine glasses, starter plates and entrée plates. For servingware, choose colours that contrast with the rest of your china and dare to venture beyond the traditional red and green scheme. Settling on a few main colours helps to keep this look cohesive.
3. Loosen up. Middle of the table centerpieces have definitely had their moment, so this season switch out a singular arrangement for a looser assortment of varied candlesticks. They're narrow enough to stagger between servingware and they break away from the middle-of-the-table mold. Spreading multiple mini-vessels with cut flowers or stemmed foliage around the table works well, too.
Plate, West Elm; flatware, Oneida; salt and pepper shakers, Cynthia Findlay Antiques; wineglass, Ethel 20th Century Living; tablecloth fabric, Lee Jofa; green fabric, Designer Fabrics; napkin, Crate & Barrel.
House & Home December 2011 issue
Improving Party Flow
Whether hosting a large holiday shindig or just a small gathering of a few friends, how you decorate and what you serve undoubtedly come into play. But nothing helps or hinders the atmosphere like furniture placement. If you like to entertain — over the holidays or any time of the year — here are some tips to consider:
1. Bring on the backless seating. An entertainer's living room is never quite complete without some backless seating. Ottomans, benches and stools provide loads of versatility since they can be used from any side, offering non-directional, casual seating. They also don't take up much space (physically or visually), keeping sight lines clear and uncluttered.
2. Create comfortable areas for chitchats. Keep in mind that a good distance for conversation is approximately 10 feet. If your space is much larger, try multiple conversational areas instead of one large area that guests have to shout across. Creating a spot for friendly conversing can be as simple as placing two chairs off to the side with a small side table in between. Voila, a conversation corner!
3. Don't skimp on standing space. Often times our instinct is to add extra seating for all guests, but sometimes this leaves little room for flow and movement. You don't want to make people feel uncomfortable moving around or have them bumping into furniture to do so. Try a small drink table or cocktail stand in lieu of additional seating, or place a tray on top of a console table, signalling to guests that they can put their drinks down there.
Sofas, stools, Sarah Richardson Design; sofa fabric, Lee Jofa; chairs, Savoia Chair Frames; rug, Y&Co; cabinets, Treebone Design; antique cabinet hardware, The Door Store; sconces, Ribbehege & Azevedo; prints, D&E Lake; lamps, 507 Antiques; wall colour, Pointing (2003), mantle colour, Pavilion Gray (242), Farrow & Ball.
House & Home December 2013 issue
Creating A Bedroom Oasis
All the hustle and bustle of the holidays is enough to leave even the most experienced entertainers feeling worn down. Such a busy time of year merits a quiet and tranquil retreat to cap off your bustling day. Turn your bedroom into your own private sanctuary with some key tips:
1. Don't be afraid to dim. Adding a dimmer switch can sound like a lot of work, but it's really just a weekend (or afternoon) project. Bedrooms are all about ambience and a dimmer switch can achieve just that. Customize your light levels whether you're cosying up with a good book or want to rest your eyes.
2. Layer, layer, layer. When it comes to bedrooms, one thing is undeniable: they should be comfortable. For a place you're likely to spend hours in each night, high thread count sheets are worth the initial investment. Take this one step further with additional throw blankets for an added layer of luxury.
3. Trade TV for tunes. Relaxing music can turn an ordinary bedroom into to an oasis. If you have a TV in your bedroom, consider replacing it with a sound system for playing subtle spa-like music or whatever your heart desires.
House & Home May 2011 issue
Sprucing Up Your Entryway
Give guests a warm welcome from the moment they walk in the front door this holiday season. An impressive entryway is the first point of contact when visitors enter your home — and it can certainly set the tone for the evening. While this space often gets overrun with outerwear and clutter, a few thoughtful touches can take it from drab to fab.
1. Incorporate soft lighting. Lighting is essential for many reasons, but taking off your boots shouldn't require unwavering wattage. Adding a light fixture with a soft glow (like a chandelier) says "welcome" and adds charm and glamour to any entryway.
2. Have somewhere for guests to put their gear. Cold weather wear can be cumbersome, but it doesn't have to be an eyesore at the front door. Pick up pretty and practical storage solutions — like a mat for guests to put their wet boots on, a decorative stand for umbrellas and a basket or bowl for mittens and keys. Space permitting, a stool or bench can also prevent guests from fumbling with their wet winter boots.
3. Think of decorative touches. A mirror is a great place to start. It can really open up a narrow entryway and allows guests to adjust any hat hair so they're feeling their best when they walk into the party. Adding a fresh seasonal arrangement can also make the space feel special, while providing festive fragrance.
Tommy Smythe, Lindsey Levy, Lindsay Mens Craig, Sarah Richardson Design.
House & Home December 2013 issue
Setting Up A Great Bar
Being a great host or hostess can inevitably involve some prep work, but when it comes to setting up a bar space that your guests can use to serve themselves, prepping can pay off big time. Not only is it one less thing to think about during the hustle and bustle of a holiday party, but a well-thought-out bar can look great, too. Besides the obvious considerations (like what to stock the bar with), here are three other things to consider when prepping your bar for party time:
1. Location. A key component to setting up a great bar is where it is situated. Be sure to have the bar visible and accessible, but tucked away from high-traffic areas. A good way to do this is by keeping it in a separate space away from the kitchen — like the living room where guests are likely to sit for a drink.
2. Lighting. Seasoned entertainers know ambience can be everything and lighting your bar area is no different. Lighting may be dim while you are hosting but it is important for guests to be able to read the labels on the bottles clearly without making the area too bright — a streamlined table lamp is often a great option.
3. Accessories. A tray is essential for a great bar — it keeps the contents looking neat and corralled, but also lets guests know that the glasses are clean and ready to use. Remember to include things like bottle openers, napkins, garnish and even a cocktail shaker in your bar area.
Bar tip: Be considerate of all your guests' needs by including non-alcoholic beverage options and water by the bar.
House & Home November 2012 issue