Category Archives: Decorating

Inspired by Matthew Robbins

If you’ve been following my blog, you know I adore tablescapes (see a few of mine here, here, and here) and pretty table decor. My love for tablescapes also means I love weddings, events, and parties…all perfect excuses for delightful table decor. For this reason, celebrity event designer and wedding planner, Matthew Robbins inspires me. He’s Martha Stewart’s go-to when it comes to planning a wedding, and he recently published his first book this year, Inspired Weddings. It’s resting on my coffee table, along with a few of my other favorite books.

What I love most about this book is that Matthew discusses how to choose one meaningful object, and then how to center your design around that chosen piece (ie: a Portuguese bead as shown below).  He literally hunts for materials that complement the object, and the invitation, flowers, and overall event mirror the meaningful piece the couple selected. I think this technique can (and should!)  be applied to interiors as well. Buy something you absolutely love, and then center your design around that piece. If you have a beautiful table you’ve inherited, start there. Build around the pieces you love, not the items you recently bought at Target just to “fill space” or use for a few years. A well-curated home takes time, and every piece has meaning, just like every item in the weddings Matthew plans.

With that said, Matthew’s stopping by the blog today (yay!!!) to give us a few tablescape tips. Take it away, Matthew!


  1. Think outside of traditional holiday color palettes. You aren’t limited to red and green or blue and white! Consider citrus tones with evergreen, silver or mercury glass with grey and lush fern tones or festive gold tones with classic ivory accents.
  2. Incorporate food and festive drinks into your table design. Fill a unique tray or low, decorative bowl with gorgeous breads for the table as part of the decor. Place artfully arranged side dishes or condiments in gorgeous vessels to complete your design. Choose your wine selection carefully and present a delicious red in a fabulous decanter on the table. Start with a champagne toast as a decorative and joyful beginning to your meal. You can find great prosecco options to replace pricier champagne if you are watching your budget.
  3. If you have a long table add a beautiful layer by placing a decorative runner down the length of the table. This will ground your centerpiece decor and will add depth and interest to the design. Coordinate your dinner napkins with the runner. Runners and napkins are easy to make or buy ready made dinner napkins and customize by embellishing with a beautiful ribbon attached as a finishing edge or a monogram. I also enjoy attaching a small hang tag as a place card or a little holiday message for each guest to enjoy as they take their seat.
  4. Pull from your existing collectibles and create something more personal and eclectic for your table centerpiece. If you collect vintage holiday ornaments you can arrange these in silver bowls surrounded by candles or use holiday candies as centerpiece decor next to very small clusters of holly foliage or white carnations.  Give your guests something to talk about by placing conversation starters on the table. I like to do this by placing a small treat on each dinner napkin like a sprig of something seasonal, a special message or an edible treat.


  1. Avoid things that look too contrived or straight from the box. Find packaged elements such as simple, colorful globe ornaments or cute little tabletop reindeer and do something unusual to personalize the decor. You don’t want your holiday decor to look as it you just plucked it from a box or bag and dropped it on the table. Make it personal and unique!
  2. Don’t get too crazy with candles! As much as I love candles everywhere remember to place these carefully and artfully on your table. Remember too many candles brings lots of additional heat to your dining room and to the table. Also, as you place candles before they are lit consider their location once they are burning. If too close to a flower or piece of foliage you can have a small disaster at the table within minutes. You don’t want your guests to feel afraid to reach for their wine glass because their hand might be scorched by the sea of candles clustered near their place setting.
  3. If you are doing family style food on the table, don’t just choose any old bowl or tray for presenting the menu. Consider each dish as part of your table scape and even consider the food as part of the decor. You don’t want sea of brown, starchy casseroles ruining your beautiful table. Think about vegetables with great color and dishes that incorporate beautiful ingredients.
  4. Don’t make the process too complicated. You don’t need hundreds of ideas on the table to make it beautiful. Keep it simple and allow a well edited color palette or one seasonal theme to direct your design.
  5. Don’t get too fussy! You can make a great statement with simple materials. Your table scape will look like a piece of art if you allow each piece to play a role in the decor. Choose your flatware, napkins, glasses, candles, etc. as part of that story rather than just an afterthought. If you have a limited selection think about how to work your existing inventory into the decor so you aren’t breaking your budget by buying too many new service pieces or place settings. Sometimes a simple charger plate or place mat can dress up your ordinary, everyday china beautifully.

Now, who’s inspired to get their tablescape on?


Master Bedroom Bedding

Lately I seem to be jumping around from room to room, project to project, but I guess that’s what happens when you are renovating…your mind has no home and everything (I mean, everything) is all over the place. This week, I promise to update you on the kitchen, bathroom, and a few other lingering items that have been in the mix. As for today, we’re talking bedding.

A long while ago I blogged about being on the hunt for new bedding. Well, nearly 6 months later, I’m proud to report I’ve finally pieced together our master bedroom bedding. You see, bedding is hard. Like really hard. For one, it’s expensive. Like there’s-no-way-I’d-spend-that-much-on-a-pillow expensive. Bedding can also dramatically impact or dictate a room, so it’s nothing to take lightly. It’s a big decision and you need to like it, errr, love it. And finally, landing on something that’s going to be practical and comfortable makes it even more tricky. For instance, I reaaaalllly wanted another white duvet  cover, but my last white duvet is nearly brown. White is pretty, but it doesn’t stand the test of time in the bedroom, unless you are crazy clean, which I am not.

Here is the mix I finally landed on…




1.) Verdin Euro by John Robshaw – available at Manor Fine Wares

2.) Gray Polka Dot Sheets – available at  Schoolhouse Electric

3.) Washed gray stitched pillowcases –  available at West Elm

4.) Striped edge sheet set/pillowcases – available at West Elm

5.) Belgium Linen comforter cover – available at Restoration Hardware

As you guys probably know by now, I’m not a big fan of  flowers or overly feminine prints. Thus, finding bedding for me was a challenge, because there’s lots of floral sheets and pillows out there. Don’t get me wrong, paisley/floral/feminine prints are beautiful, they are just not for me, or Kyle for that matter. So I stuck with neutral gray colors, added in some fun flare with polka dotted sheets, and I’m trying out a linen duvet cover.

We’re still waiting for our bed frame to arrive (our one furniture purchase for the “new” home) so once I get our bedding on our actual bed, I will surely snap some photos!

Cheers to the week….and counting down the day until Christmas. Only 15 more to go!

Holiday Events in PDX

I love this time of year for oh so many reasons, one of them being all of the handmade holiday goodies and gifts that are for sale at the local Portland bazaars and events. Hand-knitted scarfs, one-of-a-kind pottery, and vintage wares? I am SO there.

Here are three lovely Portland events going down this weekend…

The Portland Bazaar can be found at Sandbox Studios this coming weekend, Dec. 8-9. It’s truly a curated holiday fair that celebrates the high-quality handmade work being produced by Portland’s creative community. Clothing, accessories, home goods, books, music, vintage wares, fine art, food and spirits can all be found here.


For those of you with kids in tow, the St. John’s Swap N Play is a great stop for families. While kids play in the indoor playspace, adults can shop and brows local handmade goodies.

And finally, Mud, Sweat and Cheer, a holiday pop-up shop featuring the work of more than 20 clay artists and other local artists, is now open through December 24th. Holiday shoppers can find functional vessels of all kinds from well known clay artists as well as greeting cards, home accessories, upcycled fabric items, sculptures and decorative pieces.

Mud, Sweat and Cheer will also help raise funds for non-profit p:ear, an organization that creatively mentors homeless youth. Ten percent of the pop-up shop’s profit, all proceeds from giftwrap sales, and a silent auction will be donated to the organization.

Happy shopping!