We're off to Chicago for a while, so I'm leaving you with a good one. Two flowers I love together: hot pink peonies and orange ranunculus. I always feel like I'm poolside in Palm Beach wearing Lilly, instead of in our car or an airport somewhere, which is how it usually goes.


March is mud month here in upstate New York, so here was just the sort of vibrant inspiration I needed while planning our table for A Date with a Plate in May, a two-day affair in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, benefiting the Noreen O'Neill Foundation for Melanoma Research. A quick stop into one of my favorite fabric houses, Quadrille, for a pink-and-orange combo that spoke to me and voilà!


Meet Kazak. I loved her worldly ways well before her moment in House Beautiful this month. And like so many other fabrics from Quadrille, Kazak strikes a nifty balance between new and old, traditional and modern. This table would be unlike any other I'd done—daring, more vibrant, but still with an element of restraint. And because I knew I had to give a talk tableside during the event, this one would also be about one of my favorite activities—shopping! Thus began an exhaustive, two-month search for the perfect china, silver, linens and glass! Our first find? A set of old Wedgwood bowls, probably from the 20s, with a cool, Chinoiserie feel and a color combination that was spot on. These we scored at the New York City flea market in Chelsea. If you've never been, go! 


Pattern on pattern can be tricky; it's like a high wire act that could go wrong at any second. Hence, the safety net: intermediary plates and chargers that give the eye a break. Other than flea markets, Goodwills are my other go-to sources for undiscovered treasure. At the one in Westport, we picked up these Johnson Brothers ironstone plates from the 50s in a modern octagon shape. They're so classic and beautiful, A Christmas Tree Shop is selling newer versions by the same company! Carbon copies, I tell you, only good for the microwave, too. That's how great they are. 


3000 miles away, at a thrift shop north of San Diego, I found a set of eight brass chargers for seven bucks. (I was out there doing my first shoot for the new Woman's Day, but more on that later.) These beauties are good and heavy with the same shape as the ironstone plates. I only wish my run-in with airport security went as smoothly as the shopping. "It's just tabletop," I told them, arms splayed. "I'm a style editor." They didn't much care.  


Mixing flatware of various time periods and materials is always so much more interesting to me than matching, and this table would be no exception. The mid-century spoons we found back in December, antiquing with La Dolfina, while the mother-of-pearl knives are from the 1800s, a pawn shop score with my friend Andrea from Top Design. The place itself was great; the owner, not so much. "50 bucks for 12," he barked.  "Um, I'll take it."   


Once you know the rules, that's when it's time to break them. Flash forward to my presentation at the event, where I encouraged the audience to balk traditional table settings, throw caution to the wind and mix, darn it! 


"Buy me. I'll come in handy some day." That's what a little brass bird—well, actually two—told me at a junk shop in New Jersey. Jaithan found them when we were shopping for a makeover to appear in the first on-stand issue of The Nest, due out this summer. We certainly didn't need them at the time—we rarely do—but pretty things at prices so low they're practically free I can't resist. Come in handy they did, as the table finally began to take shape. 


For the napkins, I took a cue from the pretty pale blue in the bowls with a great set from Gracious Home in Chelsea. As for the rings, I couldn't find any I liked, so I bought a basic set from Target, then found these fantastic brass and turquoise earrings, also at Target, that I glued right on. Together with the ikat, I thought they'd give the design a cool, Bohemian vibe, like jewelry for table.


Carrying the blue up, I borrowed a stunning set of French opaline glasses from our friend, artist and antiques dealer Deborah Buck. Her store on Madison is a jewel box in itself! For water, I used a set of eight vintage pressed glass goblets with a pretty swirl pattern. You'd never know they're from a Goodwill in Chesapeake Bay! 


Colorful candles are the perfect way to bring the eye up from any table you set. Whether new or vintage linens, chances are Creative Candles has just the right hue. For our table, we chose sky blue tapers for a punchy contrast to the pink and orange ikat. 


Candlesticks were brass—three pairs at varying heights, all from the Goodwill. Brass, by the way, is very much back, especially at flea markets. For more trends from the front lines of Brimfield, check out this post from our friend Amy over at design*sponge. We did a holiday story together on vintage ornaments from the New York flea market that was super colorful and fun!


For the flowers, I knew I wanted to keep the arrangements low, like a beautiful hedge of peonies growing among the candlesticks. The vessels are a mix of brass bowls and vases collected over time. 


If you're having a party and want a quick, easy way to freshen up the dining room, put away your chairs, then rent a few in vibrant colors that coordinate with your table setting. For our event, we considered pale pink, hot pink and orange. Ultimately, the hot pink won out!


One final detail before the big reveal—candy! These are from the dollar store, but only the pInk, orange, blue and white would do. OCD, anyone?   


Finally, the part you've been waiting for. Check out the finished table!


The ikat from Quadrille I turned into runners going from place to place. Overall, I think the effect is worldly and well-traveled with an eclectic feel as though collected over time. And how fantastic are the hot pink Chiavari chairs?


I also love how modern all the vintage brass feels, especially paired with the earring from Target I turned into a napkin ring. And as for the safety net, the chargers and plates give the eye a restful break between the ikat and Chinoiserie pattern of the bowls. To start: a velvety pink chilled beet soup. Can you imagine how beautiful it would be poured into those bowls from a vintage brass coffee pot right at the table?


The three-tiered tray that now holds candy I found at a tag sale upstate, while peonies in vivid shades of pink bring life to the table.  


And finally, the view from the mezzanine. Now who wouldn't want to sit down to this table for a dazzling summer dinner?


Huge thanks to Judi, Sharyn, and Alison for the invitation to participate in A Date with a Plate, benefitting the Noreen O'Neil Foundation for Melanoma Research. Jaithan and I are honored to have done our part for such a profoundly important cause! Back in a few days, everyone!