Tag Archives: home décor ideas

Flower Market or Farmer’s Market?


The best places to get the freshest flowers for your home.

I love how fresh flowers look in my home.  I have some in my foyer, some on my breakfast table and usually a few stems in the powder room and in my bathroom (of course!).  I even make sure I have a stem or two next to my bed.  Of course, if I’m entertaining, I add flowers to wherever we are having cocktails and they are ever present as part of my tablescape in the dining room.

Fresh flowers brighten any room and bring life to any space they’re in.  It’s interesting, guests mention that my home always feels welcoming but they don’t equate part of that feeling to the fresh flowers that are always present.  But, I’m here to tell you that those flowers absolutely contribute to it.

Many people think that you need to go to a florist to have fresh flowers in your home and that you have to spend a lot of money on arrangements created by professionals.  That is absolutely not the case.  You can find fresh flowers at most grocery stores but they’re usually not the freshest.  They’ll certainly do in a pinch – like if you can’t get to your local Flower Market or your local Farmer’s Market was a few days earlier and you need them ASAP.  So, don’t completely write off your grocer’s flowers if that’s what you can get to in the minute – they will do just fine.  But, with just a bit of planning you can get the freshest flowers from the flower or farmer’s market for a fraction of what it would cost you at a professional florist.  Loose flowers from your grocery store will cost less than from a florist as well.

fresh flowersTalk to the flower merchant at the farmer’s market about which flowers are in season at the minute or simply find ones that you love.  Ask which ones will stay freshest longest so you can enjoy them for a few extra days.  If I don’t have a particular color theme I’m working with I like to find unusual colors of flowers – like the Mahogany Sun Flowers in the photos – I’d never seen them.  Look at all the stems in whichever bunch you are choosing to make sure you don’t have any ‘sad’ flowers.

Be sure to recut the stems when you get home before you place them in water.  Any container that can hold water can be used for your arrangements – they don’t have to be vases.  In fact, sometimes the more unusual the container the more interesting the flowers look so canning jars, pitchers, glasses, almost anything can be the perfect ‘vase’ for your blooms.  Cut them different lengths placing the shortest ones in front and the longest towards the center.  I like them just loose.

And now that you know about where to find fresh flowers and how to have them in your home year-round you can save those visits to your local professional florist for when you absolutely must have that perfect arrangement for a special occasion.

Tips for great holiday party lighting.

I have a lot of friends who work in stage, film, and video entertainment. One has been a “lighting designer” for going on 40 years. What that means is that he works with the set designers and comes up with just the right type of lighting to set the mood of the story.

“Lighting is everything, and it’s nothing,” he says. “When I’ve done my job right, nobody notices that I’ve done it. It’s all about the mood, the actors, and the set. The lighting makes it all come together, without anyone thinking about it.”

So, imagine you’re the director of your own stage production of “The Holidays at My Home.” What are you going to do to set the mood for a great party? Nothing better than perfect lighting that nobody notices.

I love to use candles. Of course, everyone notices candles. The trick is making it all about your guests and the environment, not the actual candles themselves. The warm flickering light will look and feel glamorous. People seem softer, food tastes better, and wine in glasses – so much more delicious.

I went to a huge gathering in Italy in a castle near Trieste. They had tables lined up, and each one had tall tapers glittering amid the glasses and flatware. I close my eyes and imagine what a breathtaking scene that was and how much fun we had that night.

Tapered candles not your style? Try white votive candles in groupings to define party spaces. The elegance will be just as breathtaking, but maybe not so much in everyone’s faces. And when using candles, make sure you use the unscented ones! That way nothing interferes with the wonderful aromas coming from your carefully planned food.

Turn down overhead lighting; turn them all off as much as possible. Anyone who’s ever taken a selfie under ‘down light’ knows that overhead lighting creates terrible shadows. Downlight ages everyone, just ask anyone who works onstage.

Replace lamp bulbs with low wattage (25 watts), soft white (warm) if you can. This is the most flattering light, and they cast the most natural shadows. Use opaque lamp shades. These will throw light either up or down while not allowing bright light to pass straight through (direct light is never a great way to set a mood). Gold lined shades create the most glamorous glow.

If you have a fireplace and the weather is cold enough – light a fire! Your guests will want to gather around the fireplace and watch the fire.  Evening conversations around a fire tend to involve telling stories which is a great way to connect and make some fun memories.

Pre-light your powder room with the light set to a dim level. The one exception to my “no scented candle” rule is here. Place a small scented candle in the room. Your guests will thank you.

Use reflective pieces in your party décor.  Maybe bring in a mirrored bar cart or serving trays.  Candlelight does some beautiful things when you let it bounce off mirrors. It always adds instant glamour.

Now, for the holiday touch, how about an alternative to blinking decorative lights? Remember, the best lighting is the one we don’t notice. Instead of the strings of gaudy blinkers, add groupings of colorful glass objects to your tables. Bring in colored glass candle holders and tuck them in groups in the corners of the room. The glitter and sparkle of all those colorful gems will make a holiday statement in itself.

And now, the stage is ready. Make some lovely memories.

Check out my video and see examples of lighting ideas for this post.