Category Archives: Dining

Chic Shelf Paper Makes Trendy Placemats

"Wild" Shelf Paper from Scentennials

I discovered a fun, easy and inexpensive way to change the decorating theme of a dining table.   Decorate with handmade placemats by using shelf paper.  They come in a variety of styles, colors and designs, and they can be cut-to-fit, depending upon the size of your table, dishes and place settings.   You can typically find boxed shelf paper on sale at discount department stores, like Ross, Home Goods or TJ Maxx or from Scentennials.  Each piece of paper makes a large oversized (16.5″ x 22″) placemat when unrolled.  The animal print designs above come in sets of six for $14.50 a box.

If the scented paper seems overpowering, consider this alternative from Chic Shelf Paper.  With hundreds of designs to choose from, and available in cut-to-order sizes, think how your white or black dinnerware would work with this Damask selection.

Distressed Damask in Black

Or, bright pink placemats with white tableware.

Bright Pink Fruits

Or, chocolate-colored plates on a fleur-de-lis design on ivory cream background.

Fleur-de-lis in Chocolate & Ivory Cream

Prices begin at $2.50 per square foot, or $4.00 for a cut-to-order custom size.

Consider showing off your creativity and trendy decorating style by incorporating a set of handmade paper placemats when hosting your next dinner party.

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Filed under Dining, Tablescapes

Cloth Napkins Not Just for Dressy Occasions

Photo Compliments of Biltmore Inspirations

I have never been a fan of paper napkins for dining, with the occasional exception being for picnic use.  In Arizona, where we enjoy many meals and barbeques outdoors, my tastes still lean towards a crisp spray-starched ironed cloth napkin.  They just look and feel nicer.  Cotton or linen napkins are not just for dressy occasions nor as scary as you may think.  They are less expensive in the long run because they can be used again and again.  You can find many colors, styles and prices to choose.  I suggest having an array of options in your collection to match with the theme of your party.

Wash cloth napkins in warm water using your washer’s gentle cycle, then tumble until damp dry.  A shot of spray starch and a quick steam iron on both sides results in a ready-to-go set once folded and stacked in your linen cupboard.

This Damask embroidered napkin set from Biltmore Inspirations is one of my favorites.  From the Breakfast Room Collection, the set of four, cream-colored, cloth napkins boast a damask red emblem and provide an elegant look to any table.  20″ square. Cost: $34.98 for the set.

Even though maintaining your cloth napkins are a bit more work, I believe the result is worth the extra effort and your guests will think so too.

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Filed under Dining, Holiday, Tablescapes

Spanish Mission Style for your Dining Table

Interior Hallway at Mission Santa Barbara

Photo by Debbie J. Elder

On a recent visit to the beautiful Pacific coastal city of Santa Barbara, I visited the historic, 225-year old Mission Santa Barbara. Locals refer to this 1786-built mission as the “Queen of the Missions,” due to its magnificent Roman-inspired architecture and its place as the 10th of California’s 21 missions continually operating since its beginning by Franciscan friars.  The gorgeous chapel and the flower-filled inner Moorish fountain and courtyard were my favorite parts of the tour.  Until I spied this lovely brick and stucco outdoor hallway.  I loved the elaborate ironwork enveloping the windows and the brightly painted turquoise shutters with brick-red trim.  The thick adobe exterior walls, originally painted by Chumash Indians, now boasts a striking rich-yellow tone. The white-washed years of wear and tear, located below the bottom of the windows, reminds me of tarnished silver. Finally, patterned black ironwork, a frequent enhancement of Santa Barbara architecture, adds a flash of jewelry to the windows.

I thought about how to create this enticing color scheme for dining at home. Envision your dining table showcasing tableware inspired by the Mission colors of muted mustard yellow, Southwestern turquoise, rusty-red, iron black and touches of flashy silver.

In searching online, I found some sturdy dinnerware in a slightly more mint-turquoise shade by Bobby Flay at Kohl’s.  These dishes are perfectly trimmed in rust red, similar to the windows above.  The retail price is $139.99 for a 16-piece set.

Consider pairing this dinnerware with the Dijon-yellow scalloped placemats.  Or, alternatively, a full tablecloth in this collection from Williams Sonoma.

These lovely linens feature a center raised grape motif and leaf pattern. This seems appropriate for our mission theme, after all didn’t the Franciscan monks produce wine?  $56.00 for a set of four placemats, $125.00 – $180.00 for the tablecloths, depending on size.

Complete the table setting with black eating utensils.  A heavy, rustic, forged iron style would be perfect, such as these from the Country Village Shoppe at $64.95 for each 5-piece setting.

Then, add some bowls and serving pieces in a tarnished silver plate, borrowing a few of those antique treasures from your grandmother’s cupboard for the occasion.  Or, I like to search out pretty silver plate pieces with discounted prices at Ruby Lane.

Finally, create a giant centerpiece out of the bright yellow sunflowers growing in abundance by the roadside this month.  And, as an added bonus, they are free!  Add in some green flowering branches from a tree in your yard and arrange the flowers in a silver wine bucket or rustic black urn for a final Spanish touch.

Photo by Debbie J. Elder

Viva La Fiesta!

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Filed under Dining, Tablescapes