Rome Table Setting. My tour of Italy for the ACAP fundraiser took me to Rome, a city filled with art, architecture and history.
My centerpiece is a collage of picture frames, some with pictures, most without. I thought about how to build this stand for a long time. I made several trips to the garden centers and finally found a vegetable trellis. I wired three of them together and randomly added a variety of frames.
I carried the frame theme through the place setting. The charger is a large frame, spray painted black with a blue batik napkin insert. An empty brass frame rests on a plate just for the fun of it. Each place setting needed some art, so I cut little pieces of famous paintings and place them in more black frames.
My color scheme was blue and white. Which I love! But it needed the pleated gold napkins to add a bit of texture and another color.
Blue and white fabric camouflaged the boring grey chairs. A little paper raffia held them in place.
Everyone asked where I got all the dishes to set 3 tables. Well, the answer is I own them all! They only pieces I purchased for this fundraiser were these blue and white salad plates, the clay color salad plates on the Tuscany table and a few more matching wine glasses. I love dishes!
Tuscany Table Setting!
I participated in a fund raiser for ACAP called Designing Women with a Cause, where 12 women set tables based on a country. I designed and decorated 3 Italian tables starting with Tuscany. If you know me, you know how much I love to set a beautiful table. I love the challenge of doing something that’s never been done before. Someone asked if I had spent hours looking at Pinterest for ideas. The answer is an emphatic NO! Everything I designed is an original Merri idea.
My inspiration for my Tuscany table setting was the beautiful Tuscan countryside where grapes grow and wine is made. The vintage dishes are English Staffordshire, Olde Avon Dale, by J & G Meakin, England. I made a mini grape arbor centerpiece complete with vines, grapes and twinkle lights. Underneath a dozen lanterns add ambiance to the rustic setting.
My place cards are little wood trays with a keyhole cut-out to hold your wine glass (a Goodwill bargain). I painted each with black chalkboard paint and propped them up on stands. Chalk is erasable so I can reuse them over and over.
Sparkly clusters of grapes, also from Goodwill (it’s amazing what I found there for my tables!) add color and texture to each place setting.
Each Tuscany setting started with a grape vine charger. I twisted a length of vine into a circle and held it together with a bit of wire. It adds wonderful texture and contrast, my favorite design elements! I folded brown and vintage lace napkins together and held them together with a lantern napkin ring. See a theme developing?
I also love to add unexpected and unusual touches. Like the brass pocket door pulls. They’re beautiful works of art and perfect for individual salt dishes. The little spoons are made from nails and were found in Eureka, California (where gold was discovered). I only bought 8. Nowadays I never purchase less than 12 of anything. You never know when you’ll have 9 or 10 or 12 people over for dinner.
Once I knew I wanted to illuminate the table with lanterns, I shopped Goodwill, looking for all shapes and sizes. The ones that weren’t bronze, got a quick coat of brown spray paint.
I was asked if I rented the chair covers. Oh no, I actually own them. They were a big bargain years ago that I couldn’t pass up. I knew they would come in handy someday! A burlap bow added color and and more texture.
Next up are my tables dedicated to Rome and Venice.
Easter Basket Ideas — DIY
Who says the Easter Bunny has to hide regular, boring old Easter baskets? Change things up this year by making your own custom DIY baskets from things you’ll find stashed in your house!
Put the fruit in the refrigerator and weave paper raffia through the open spokes of a wire fruit basket. Choose a traditional Easter color, like purple or color coordinate each basket to your home decor or a different color for each kid.
Transform those regular baskets with a bit of fabric and glue. Gather a large circle of fabric on the outside of the basket. Hold it in place with giant paper clips. Glue in place with hot glue gun.
Take one of your really nice baskets and instead of messy, fake grass, fill it with chenille trim cut from an old bedspread. If you were really ambitious, you could change the color with dye.
I also like to use pretty ribbon instead of grass. It’s soft and NOT messy and you can reuse in another project. Or cut strips of colorful paper and curl them around a pencil. Choose construction or printing paper or even old book pages.
Make this the year the Easter Bunny gets creative.
DIY fabric Easter Eggs are not only great decorations, but they last forever. Making them is so fast and easy, you’ll be tempted to make dozens. I think I’ll place one at each place setting for Easter brunch. Everyone gets a party favor to take home.
I purchased a couple “fat quarters” of pale yellow and white quilting fabric. It’s important to get 100% cotton fabric (cotton is much easier to rip). You’ll also need Styrofoam eggs and sequin pins (the very short ones).
Rip the fabric in 1/2 in strips. Trim the loose threads and press so you have nice flat pieces to work with.
Wrap the egg with the strips, alternating between two fabrics. Hold in place at both ends with the straight pins.
Cover up the pins with ribbon or green floral trim. They’re so adorable and you and bring them out every year.
A question I’m often asked as an interior designer is how to decorate a fireplace mantle. As the focal point of the living room, we orient our furniture around the fireplace even when it’s hot outside. There are many ways to decorate it depending on your style and personality.
I tend to prefer an asymmetrical balance. I also like to display a collection or gather items in a similar colorway. The best part is the opportunity to change it up seasonally or even monthly. If you don’t have a mantle any shelf will do!