August 5, 2021

a Balboa cottage dinner party

Yesterday afternoon was so much fun! My friends Angi and Pete were hosting a birthday dinner party at their absolutely adorable Blue Door Cottage on Little Balboa Island, and I helped them by styling and setting a table for sixteen for them.

We were going for a sophisticated coastal theme, so I started by arranging four mason jars full of vibrant blue hydrangeas. The aqua blue jars were just perfect for this look since it reminds me of beach glass.

This adorable cottage is so reminiscent of Cape Cod, and the hydrangeas are too. I just picture them blooming all over Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket!   

The best configuration for this front yard patio was to have a large square table with four chairs on each side. That left lots of empty space at the center of the table for me to decorate.  

Pretty much everything for the table was blue and white, which coordinates entirely with the inside of the cottage, and I used lemons around the center lantern for just a pop of color.

Here’s the mood board I put together with the items we selected from the party rental company. 

I was so happy to know they offered so many interesting options, especially the blue goblets, blue and white china and gingham napkins, which are my go to items for a no-fail tablescape.

It's always more interesting to mix and match china, like  here where we used scalloped white dinner plates to set off the blue and white salad plates.

For a little fun, we added chunky white starfish at each place setting, and the best part of all, everyone also got their own personal “message in a bottle”.

This version is a lot more fun than the one Sting sang about. Angie and Pete took it to another level by making a whole party game out of this favor. Inside each little bottle, Angie hand-wrote interactive questions which urged everyone to participate. 

These messages in a bottle come all decorated with a tag and little anchor tied on with twine. They’d make great place cards too to for each place setting. Simply write your guests’ names on the little tag that’s already attached!

white lantern was the perfect choice for the center of the table, as if offers a little height but doesn’t block dinner conversation.

I surrounded it with greenery, scattered lemons and more white starfish, inspired by my interpretation of a summery coastal California look.

Yesterday turned out to be the perfect summer evening for this alfresco birthday dinner. Check back soon for more on the Blue Door Cottage and get a little peek of the inside!

ciao! fabiana

 P.S. After I left Pete ran out to get some more votives for the table...
candlelight is so important to set the perfect mood!

August 4, 2021

a vintage-inspired summer tablescape


Five easy steps to help you set the perfect summer table        

A pretty berry tart sits upon a pedestal at the center of the table. 
It sets the tone for the patriotic colors of this 
 and offers a preview to the delicious meal awaiting guests.  

Summer is here, so it’s the perfect time to start planning a festive gathering. Forget the paper plates and disposable napkins and go for something more upscale. 

Gather some of your favorite tableware and collected pieces and set a pretty vintage-inspired tablescape for America’s favorite season.  

 A ticking stripe runner sets the groundwork for the rest of the table,
and softens the look of the rustic farmhouse table.

Wouldn’t it be fun to create a classic-inspired red, white and blue table setting that will surely create a memorable celebration for your friends and family?

Mixing and matching your favorite table linens, plates, flatware and glasses are simplified with these five easy to follow steps.  

 Vibrant blue glassware compliments the ticking stripe table runner,
while sweet little chamomile flowers in white
hobnail votive holders add a cheerful splash of color. 

1. Choose your inspiration piece 

An inspiration piece always sets the tone for any gathering. My collection of red and blue transferware plates were my starting point for this tablescape.

Transferware is so easy to mix-and-match since the various patterns coordinate so well with each other.  

To create that perfect red, white and blue look for this table, I used three different sized plates for each place setting and alternated red and blue plates of different sizes for each guest. 

Vintage transferware plates also look amazing when combined with plain white china, so experiment with what you have and create your own unique look! 

My love for blue and white transferware plates is unmistakable, and
I have
 a few favorites displayed throughout my home on the walls for all to enjoy. 
This type of collection transcends so many different décor styles.

2. Lay your groundwork


Tablecloths, runners and placemats lay the groundwork for any pretty table setting. In this instance, I chose a runner with a blue and white ticking pattern. To me, this delicate pattern evokes thoughts of the stripes on the American flag.  

In addition to introducing a subtle pattern, runners are a great way to add interest to the table and soften the look of a wood table. A romantic vibe is instantly set for the table just by adding a pretty fabric. And to finish off the groundwork, I chose simple white time-worn napkins.  

No need for baking! This little store bought tart was simply embellished
 with fresh fruit set in a circular pattern on top.

3. Bring together the whole look with a centerpiece


A centerpiece visually anchors the whole table. Like the cherry on the top of a hot fudge sundae, the middle of the table looks finished when a unique feature is prominently displayed in its center. 

As you can see, something as simple as a pretty berry tart livens up the table and prepares your guests’ palates for the menu you have planned for them. 

This little store-bought tart was simply embellished with fresh fruit on top and will be sure to please your guests. 

Every guest will have their own unique combination of patterns
 to enjoy as the  collection of blue and red transferware plates get mixed and matched
differently at each place setting

4. Add natural elements


Organic materials such as flowers or fruit are important natural elements for any tablescape. Sweet chamomile flowers are inexpensive and easily found at the grocery store. 

They have the same look as a mini daisy, and when was the last time a daisy didn’t put a smile on your face? These charming little flowers add a bit of whimsy and nostalgia to the table.


If you have the resources at home, forage pretty clippings from your own garden. Oftentimes, I go out to my garden and snip branches and seasonal flowers to add to the table.

It’s always surprising to me how just a simple natural element brings the whole table to life.  

An up-close and personal look at all the details of these lovely transferware plates.
By alternating red and blue colored dishes of various sizes,
these plates take on their own patriotic charm. 

5. Incorporate vintage details


Vintage details instantly elevate your table into the “Romantic” category. Grandmother’s treasured silverware is happy to make an appearance at the table and quietly recalls festive occasions of days passed. 

Or perhaps you have a favorite collection of vintage vases or glassware you’d love to share with your guests.  

Grandmother’s treasured silver adds a touch of glitz and romance to the table.  

Put together complementary accents for the whole room


Remember to let your personality shine through anytime you’re creating a tablescape

For the patriotic summer timeframe that begins with Memorial Day and ends with Labor Day, look for other fun ways to add a little red, white and blue interest to your dining area. 

Gathering books from other parts of the house and incorporating them on a sideboard or table is one of my favorite ways to play off the theme of my table setting.  

A lovely pitcher of chamomile flowers is elevated
with a playful accent of red, white and blue books.

Books are an especially easy way to add color and charm to any room. 

A plain corner of my dining nook was in need of some color, so three appropriately colored books came to the rescue while at the same time helping to elevate a lovely pitcher of fresh flowers. 

Just remember to always incorporate things you love and your personal style will shine through. 

ciao! fabiana 




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