If you're the entertaining type and plan to host Easter or Passover at your place this year, here's a bit of sparkle from the table we did for an event at Halls Plaza in Kansas City, just to get you in the mood.
Halls, the way I like to think of it, is like the Bergdorf's of Kansas City. Shopping there feels so much more glamorous than most other stores, especially in a grand rotunda surrounded by jewels. Last December, when Kelly Cole, President of Halls, first asked us to do the table, I immediately chose this room for the stunning chandelier.
It's Baccarat, I believe, with 16 arms, all dripping with crystals.
That chilly afternoon, standing beneath its span, I couldn't help but think of an image I'd once seen of Elizabeth Taylor in 1970, an icon in diamonds, bound for the Oscars. Everything about her look I loved, from the sapphire in her eyes to the periwinkle of her Edith Head dress—not to mention the 69-carat, egg-shaped diamond anchoring her neck! Here was my inspiration for a blue and white Easter table with jeweled and pave encrusted eggs so dazzling and pretty, Elizabeth Taylor herself would have felt right at home.
To start, I would need a show-stopping tablecloth, and for that, I headed to Calico Corners, one of my favorite sources for great fabric and upholstery at affordable prices. Director of Communications Jan Jessup is a longtime friend, ever since my days at House Beautiful. After the mod makeover we did last year, together with the decorating workshops at the Westport and Mamaroneck stores, I knew Calico would make the perfect partners in support of a profoundly important cause. This damask linen I loved as soon as I saw it. In the blue colorway especially, it feels modern to me, like an updated take on a classic.
Often times, when I'm decorating or doing tables, I like to use white, paired with layered tones of a single hue for a subtle, sophisticated look. The glittery blue of the eggs I envisioned for the centerpiece wouldn't simply be blue, but rather the full spectrum of gem-inspired tones, like blue topaz, sapphire and aquamarine. Now, if only the process had been as glamorous as the colors! Here's a snapshot from our suite at the elegant Raphael in Kansas City, two days before the event.
That's 14 dozen eggs I drilled, skewered and blew, all myself. Sure I could have used faux eggs, but real is so much more authentic and beautiful, with natural variations like gemstones themselves. My advice: use a Dremel to drill holes at the tops and bottoms, then insert a skewer to break up the yolks. Blow each egg carefully, rinse with water and dry upright. By the time I'd finished, I felt like Louis Armstrong after a night at the Apollo! Now, onto the crafting. For the glittered eggs, I covered each one with spray adhesive, then used a skewer to roll it in glitter. For the fabergé style eggs, I glued clear and blue rhinestones in a simple pattern, as though a sapphire encircled by diamonds.
Like the egg tree I made last year, celebrating 100 items under $100 in our Etsy shop, I wanted to use real cherry branches for the centerpiece, spray painted white, blending nature and fantasy in an unexpected way. Next, to add even more life without the need for maintenance during the month-long display, we found good silk blossoms, almost like forsythia, then hot glued them on, one by one. So while I glittered and bejeweled 160 eggs through the night, Jaithan did his part, gluing blossoms to branches.
By the time I'd finished glittering, morning had broken with just two hours before we were to install our table! That left just enough time for us to cover the holes of the eggs, gluing a single rhinestone to the bottoms and a silver bead, knotted with string, to the tops.
Here, by the way, is a sketch of the centerpiece I did somewhere over Arizona en route to Kansas City.
Flash forward to the finished table with handmade navy tapers from our friends at Creative Candles. They partnered with us on this project benefiting DIFFA from the start, and we're extremely thankful for their generosity, not to mention their fantastic candles.
Before we get into the details, check out this video!
Now, a qualifier: Like our room for the Big Window Challenge at Bloomingdale's, this table is not real life. Nobody lived in that space and nobody is sitting at this table. Both we did for retail, a world where bigger is often better and where drama is king—or should I say queen? In either case, here's a table fit for royalty, and by that I mean Elizabeth Taylor in that Cartier rock, sipping champagne and batting her eyes. But just because the table looks expensive doesn't mean there weren't deals to be had! Take the antique Steuben vase Jaithan found at a junk shop in New Jersey for $35. (We paid $25.)
Or the set of 10 Chinoiserie plates I found at River Market for two bucks each. The pattern I loved; the gold banding not so much. Call me crazy, but I thought it cheapened them, so I simply removed it with a scrub pad and water. Now they're much more usable—less "special." After all, what's the point of great looking things—china, silver, linens, glass—buried in cupboards, collecting dust?
The dinner plates are Royal Copenhagen, while the salad/dessert plates are Mottahedeh, both from Halls. To vary the heights of the table settings, I alternated cobalt blue champagne coupes from a thrift shop in Alameda (thank you, Terri!) with Fostoria footed dessert cups from River Market, three dollars each. The glittered eggs i added for display, though in reality, I could also imagine a first course of cold vichyssoise soup, a favorite of Julia Child's.
The glasses are a mix of heights, sizes and patterns from William Yeoward, together with Reed & Barton. You might get the look by buying sets of at least six, either new or vintage, then mixing until you arrive at a combination that makes you happy. Similarly, the flatware pairs two different patterns that work together for a more eclectic look, as though collected over time. Vintage mother of pearl knives would have been beautiful as well.
Halls has a dazzling collection of antique silver. The napkin rings, numbered one through eight, reminded me of the luxury time pieces housed in glass around our table. And check out the workmanship on one of the English wedding baskets I used for glittered eggs on the table. Staggering, isn't it?
And while that one I used for eggs, others I filled with foil candies and jelly beans, like a beautiful Easter egg hunt beneath an enchanted tree. Selecting only the colors I wanted took time, but the look you achieve always appears more expensive than it is. Who knew CVS candy could look this rich?
Finally, for a little something fresh on the table that could easily be maintained, I did simple arrangements of white tulips in hobnail milk glass vases from River Market.
I love how the hobnail pattern echoed the rhinestones of the fabergé style eggs. The tulips, too, added just the right note of spring to an Easter-inspired table.
And so after all of the blood, sweat and glitter, our table was finally done. Here we are on opening night for Tables By Design with Adele Hall, whose husband Donald is chairman of the board of Hallmark and owner of Halls. Adele is an infinitely charming woman and a devoted philanthropist, whose glowing praise for our table that evening we'll remember forever.
A final thank you first to our partners Calico Corners, Creative Candles, and The Raphael for their generosity in support of the fight against AIDS. And also to Barclay Ross, Kelly Cole, Carnie Klein and everyone at Halls for being so gracious and accommodating. Both Jaithan and I are truly honored to join in the 20th anniversary celebration of Dining By Design and look forward to even more dazzling table settings to come!