Magazines are precious gems these days, but the strong—or should I say smart?—shall survive. Among those I believe have adapted to the times is House Beautiful, a magazine I've held close to my heart for years.
It was there that I landed my first publishing job with a title, an office of my own, and the freedom (another precious gem) to create beautiful stories. As Associate Decorating Editor, I worked with designers, writers, photographers, and editors of immeasurable talent, like Doretta Sperduto, Samantha Emmerling and her mother Mary. For my article Weekend Shopper, I traveled to flea markets in London, Paris, and across the country, giving new life to old things. Now, years later, I have the tremendous honor of returning to the pages of House Beautiful for a holiday table setting that's festive, fresh, and fun!
It was a sweltering, mid-July morning when Style Director Newell Turner called. Both he and Editor in Chief Stephen Drucker had seen some of my other table settings here at the house and, I'm honored to say, liked them enough to have me do one especially for the magazine! At first, I was asked to do a table for the November issue, but in the publishing world, things shift at lightening speed, so December it was and all things holiday! Immediately, I knew I wanted to use some of the laced edge milk glass from our Etsy store. This is not the stuff from the 60s, but rather the good, old pieces with intricate openwork around the rim you simply don't find very often. Paired with a rich, ruby red, vintage milk glass feels graphic and modern, like candy canes on Christmas morning.
Now this is the table setting I intended and photographed myself before the editor and photographer from House Beautiful arrived. The centerpieces, you'll notice, are different. For the original table, I'd wrapped little jewelry boxes with red ribbon, then piled them in one of my favorite milk glass compotes. I liked the idea of setting a no-fuss table well in advance without having to worry about flowers for the occasion. And who doesn't like pretty packages tied up with string? But the editor on the shoot preferred something fresh on the table, so I made a snowball arrangement of white carnations in stacked compotes. Carnations may not be the most unusual flower, but they're inexpensive and readily available with surprising potential. Of course, an arrangement this tall you'd have to move to a sideboard when guests take their seats, but I honestly don't mind. That way, you still get the wow factor with plenty of room for food.
For the table setting, hotel silver chargers are topped with vintage laced edge milk glass plates and ruby glass footed cups, perfect for a first course of Shrimp Cocktail with a Tomatillo-Horseradish Sauce. The inexpensive dinner plates I picked up from the Christmas Tree Shop, the same set I used for Jaithan's birthday buffet last summer. The milk glass goblets are American hobnail with a graphic pattern similar to this unusual set. I mixed them with inexpensive wine glasses in a modern shape from HomeGoods. Finally, the flatware is a combination of sterling silver and mother of pearl with a subtle, opalescent gleam, like jewelry for the table.
I love beautiful candy at the holidays. Remember this story I did with Apartment Therapy last year? It was all about finding inspiration in vintage ornaments from the flea market for holiday table settings. Of course, candy played a sweet part in the story, as it does here as well. The peppermint pillows I placed in simple silverplate dishes around the centerpiece, while the sour cherry candies stand taller in Early American Pressed Glass cordial glasses with a pretty swirl pattern.
In my mind, holiday table settings, for Christmas anyway, need not be
limited to red and green! Pair rich, lush colors like apple green, ruby
red or even fuchsia with a crisp, clean white, and immediately the palette feels fresh and
modern. Turquoise and white for Hanukkah would be beautiful too.
Finally, a huge thank you to Stephen Drucker and Newell Turner at House Beautiful for including me in the issue this month and to Amy Claire Preiser for the interview. It's wonderful to be back!