Tuesday, 15 December 2015

VINTAGE INSPIRED CHRISTMAS TABLE SETTING

I've been browsing through the shops for the past month looking for inspiration for our Christmas dinner table. This year will be extra special since we will be spending Christmas in our own house. I'm very excited because it means we get to make our own traditions and my husband will cook the Turkey and prepare most of the dishes, believe it or not. I am of course in charge of the decor and dressing the dinner table which I couldn't be happier about.

Ever since I was kid my mum taught me that you put a lot effort into Christmas. She used to change the cushion covers, curtains and have a special table cloth just for Christmas Day. In addition to this, she used make all these things herself with a sewing machine. What an incredible woman! I never really realised how much work it was for her until I have started doing my own Christmas preparations in the last few years. Obviously, I don't make nearly as much of an effort as she used to but I do try. I cut corners where I can. Shops are these days filled with ready made sauces and decorations and it is a big time saver when you have children. However, I do love entertaining and I couldn't think of a more pleasant task than picking the right accessories for our dinner table. It's all looking very Winter Wonderland and vintage inspired this year as you can see.



I am still very much obsessed with gold. I really wanted to use gold accessories for this setting but I wanted make sure it's not too 'bling' (if you know what I mean). A table cloth (I prefer white but any colour these days will do to be honest) is an absolute must in my book for such an occasion. I use place mats on their own with our glass dining room table but special occasions always deserve an extra effort. The only downside is getting the stains out which is why I only use table cloths that can be washed in 60 degrees (although the ironing part is no fun). This is also why I use place mats that are either washable or made of materials that do not stain. I am a big fan of Chilewich and my place mat collection has been growing in the last few years ever since I discovered the American brand. I used Chilewich Gilt Rectangle Place mats for this setting because they are quite glamorous and hard wearing. Unfortunately they have been discontinued but the Dahlia place mats are quite similar.




The miniature Christmas planter, candles and tea lights really make the table setting for me. I love using these budget friendly Andante plates from M&S. We use these plates everyday but they are just as suitable for a special occasion as you can see. They are similar to Villeroy & Boch NewWave collection but much lighter and more practical in my opinion. The frosted miniature planter from M&S also adds a bit of magic to our Winter Wonderland theme. I got the place cards from M&S last year but forgot I had bought them which is why this year I am determined to make some use out of them.

The bird tea light holders (* gifted) and the Christmas Tree Tea Lights are from Laura Ashley. I'm definitely not afraid to mix silver and gold. And as you can see, this year I decided to add white into the mix as well. I like to keep things simple and it's quite easy to add few glamorous touches to your table setting when everything else is so minimalistic. Our dining room table could be a few centimetres wider but we did buy it few years back when we lived in a smaller place. The length is very good though and it's extendable which has been fantastic.



The miniature Christmas cracker and the napkin are both from John Lewis. I much prefer using smaller Christmas crackers in the dinner table. They are more practical and look very subtle compared to giant luxury ones that most shops seem to stock at the moment.

When it comes to Christmas glassware, I am a big fan of vintage. It's much more interesting to have a mix of contemporary and vintage in my opinion rather than just sticking to one style. The dessert bowls (below) were a great find in our local charity shop. They look chic with M&S gold place mats from last year that also double up as a serving tray. Marble coasters from Rockett St George look great with vintage glasses. The wine glasses are Galway Crystal and the impressive champagne flutes are Waterford Crystal 12 Days of Christmas Collection that come with a cute charm. Someone recently asked me if I actually have ever used all of our wine glasses. We do have a lot of wine glasses, close to 60 I'd say, but I have used them all and most of them we have actually received as presents from friends and family. I love rotating the glasses and will probably add some more to our collection at some point. The only problem is that I might need a bigger wine glass cabinet soon!




We are almost all set for Christmas now. I still need to wrap a few more presents and do some last minute shopping. Our house is looking and smelling very festive though and I have already started baking some gingerbread men. Nothing beats the smell of freshly baked cookies! I have one good tip though for post Christmas clean up. As much as I love using a white table cloth for Christmas dinner, I am always dreading getting the oily Turkey stains out that can be sometimes difficult to remove even in a 60 degree wash. If you get a stain that won't come off, soak the fabric in warm water and Fairy washing-up liquid before trying any other stain removers. So far it has done the trick for me but I usually act pretty quick so the stain won't have much time to settle.

Happy Christmas and Happy Entertaining!

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Tuesday, 1 December 2015

WINTER DECOR

Most people seem to decorate for spring and Christmas but in the last few years I have put a lot more effort into Halloween, Easter and Autumn as well. I don't actually make any big changes to our decor. I find that small, subtle changes can make a massive difference. Sometimes it's enough just to add some fresh flowers or change few cushion covers.

Our biggest project this year has been the new extension. I still love decorating this room, it's not even close to being ready, and I have been looking for some accessories for the winter months that don't scream Christmas. Don't get me wrong, I still love all the sparkly, even tacky, decorations for Christmas/New Year's Eve, but it's nice to have some decorations that you can display a little bit longer.

Changing the cushion covers is probably one of the quickest and most effective ways to change your existing decor. I'm a fan of West Elm cushions and the patterns they have out at the moment. The Modern Crewel Lattice cushion is handcrafted and the navy blue colour looks great with our light grey sofa. All the cushion covers are washable which is really important to me when you have children in the house. I find that sponge cleaning works a lot better though than putting them in the washing machine. I worry that the material is too delicate and don't want to risk shrinking them.



The bulls head (above) is from ebay and even though I didn't buy it Christmas in mind it does go with the theme incredibly well. I think for £50 it was the bargain of the century!

Our sheepskin rug is from John Lewis although it looks like they have sold out now. It goes to show how popular these are this time of year. To be honest, this room has been needing a rug for some time. I am not planning to keep it throughout the warmer months so I will need to find another one to replace it with soon. I love the softness and the texture of it and it actually stays on it's place very well. I was quite lucky to find one that is narrow and same length as our sofa.


A warm blanket is an absolute necessity in our house during the colder months. I am looking for a cosy cashmere throw but the Ikea Ursula Throw will do just fine for now. It's not quite as warm as I'd like it to be but I can use it all year round which is why it has been very practical.


Even though, most of our furniture detailing is silver/chrome, I love decorating with gold. In fact, I am happy to mix both as the outcome is usually more relaxed. One of my favourite British traditions is Christmas crackers. They are fun at the Christmas table and I tend to use them for decorations beforehand. I like buying mine in supermarkets and Sainsbury's have a great selection this year. I find these mini luxury crackers ideal for decorating. For more upmarket ones, check out the Monochrome Christmas Crackers from Rockett St George. The Iittala Nappula Candle Holder (below) looks pretty chic on the side table as well and it is now also available in beautiful grey. By the way, I buy most of my Iittala products in the UK these days. Prices are a lot more competitive, sad but true, and I don't have to worry about baggage allowance.


We got our nutcracker last year from the famous Nuremberg Christmas market (you can read about my trip to Nuremberg here) and I enjoy looking at him on our window sill. Most nutcrackers seem to be red but I preferred navy the minute I saw it. They say that navy is the new black and I couldn't agree more! It was a great souvenir and looks a bit quirky, in a good way of course! Gold and navy also seem to complement each other very well and add a bit of glamour to our decor.


There are plenty of festive cups and plates available right now in the shops. I have been looking for some elegant ones that you can use during the winter months. I didn't want anything that has Christmas written on it. These Christmas mugs from Laura Ashley (*gifted) are absolutely beautiful. I have been using them non stop since I got them. They are also dishwasher safe which is fantastic. I teamed them up with my marble coasters and I also think that marble is such a great material for winter decor. I do use marble all year round but especially around Christmas it seems like a more elegant alternative to traditional Christmas accessories.


I also love reindeer ornaments and stags head shapes that aren't necessarily associated with Christmas anymore. These paper napkins are from John Lewis and they are very understated and elegant. They match our other silver reindeer accessories and the bulls head above our sofa.



And, finally it wouldn't really feel like Christmas without the Jo Malone Pine & Eucalyptus candle. This is my 'must have' Christmas candle. It's pricey but if you like the smell of pine trees (and don't have a real tree like me) you will not be disappointed. The quality is superb and the scent lasts very long. It also disguises cooking smells amazingly well and is perfect on Christmas day when you don't want the whole house to smell like roast Turkey. You can read my last year's Christmas candle review here.


We put up our Christmas tree last weekend but I have so much more decorating to do. I think after this Christmas it's time to throw out some old decorations and make some room for new ones. My taste has certainly changed in the last 9 years we have lived in the UK and every year I seem to add a few more items to our collection. Would you believe we are still holding onto our old (tiny) Christmas tree that we bought for our very first flat. My husband is the one who is refusing to get rid of it as it was the first Christmas tree we bought together. I guess it does have some sentimental value which is why I am quite happy that we have a designated area for it in our bedroom.
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