It’s a short week here in San Francisco as I gear up to head East on Wednesday for (you guessed it) a wedding. I’m particularly excited about this Long Island affair–located in Smithtown, a charming bayside village half way between the city and the Hamptons–as it is my big cousin’s wedding. I have the privilege of being a co-Maid of Honor!
As I geared up for the nuptials and plan out my wardrobe for the week (one perk of being a bridesmaid is that I know exactly what I’m wearing for the big event), I found myself channeling vintage Long Island charm. This sweet spot of entertaining style is located somewhere between Gatsby’s East Egg of yore and Kourtney & Khloe Take the Hamptons of E! TV. From tactile touches, like linen table runners and sailor’s rope napkin rings, to whimsical mermaid statues and animated marine dishes, this set of nautical entertaining pieces presents a playful take on Long Island’s classic seaside style.
For more vintage LI inspiration like, check out this gallery from Town & Country.
This spring dining decor idea is forehead-slapping-easy
In less than the amount of time it takes to aerate a bottle of red wine, you can complete this super simple project using supplies you already have in your pantry and backyard.
I adore this project because it adds a touch of elegance to formal and casual dining alike; whether you’re throwing a dinner party or eating takeout pizza, it’s a great way to elevate everyday living. And sometimes the only break we get from the chaotic work grind is at mealtime, so we might as well make the experience enjoyable for all the senses.
You simply cut a sprig of flowers or greens from outside for each table setting (fragrant herbs work as well!), fold dinner napkins decoratively, and secure the sprig of flowers to the napkins with basic cooking twine. Et voila!
Like I said, stupid easy, right?
Here are the step-by-step instructions. Don’t forget to share on Pinterest.
With a bit of creative ingenuity, a dresser from HomeGoods becomes a gilded bar cart.
The only thing more satisfying than nabbing a piece of furniture or home decor on the cheap and transforming it into an object d’art is seeing friends’ jaws fall slack upon hearing how affordably I acquired it.
I love to scavenge consignment shops, spend hours poring over vintage furniture on eBay, and know exactly what day of the week Homegoods receives its new shipment. In short, I’m always on the hunt for a good deal. The way I see it, unlimited funds can be stifling to interior design creativity. It’s like being told to write an essay about anything you want; you become paralyzed with options, unsure of which direction to turn.
Having a limited budget keeps me clever; I must focus, strategize, and see the latent potential in every piece; when placed next to handsome liquor bottles, stainless steel cocktail tools and crystal decanters, a sculpted horse head bookend from TJ Maxx it’s suddenly endowed with worldly sophistication well beyond its $15 price tag. A $300 mirrored dresser might be tacky in the bedroom, but give it a coat of gold paint, et voila–it becomes an ultra glam Hollywood Regency bar cart.
Here’s all the decadent design details…
The Art Deco Ladies
To step up the sexy, I flanked the bar cart with a pair of bubble blowing, art deco babes stenciled on plexiglass panels, whom Chris and I affectionately refer to as “the ladies.” I came across the ladies at an interior design consignment shop outside Charleston, South Carolina and was immediately smitten. Their white silhouettes disappeared atop our San Francisco flat’s pale walls, so I created a pair of magenta tufted boards to place them atop of. The process was nearly identical to creating tufted headboards; I purchased particle board planks from Home Depot, upholstery foam, fabric, and a staple gun, then assembled them as if making a headboard (great tutorial here).
What’s the fun of having a 007 license to kill a cocktail if you can’t watch yourself shake it? Hence, the giant chinoiserie mirror hanging above the bar cart. This distinctive piece was unearthed at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for $99. Score!
Photo in alligator skin frame & Sparkling Knick knacks
This is a home bar–not some corner public house; I wanted the bar cart to be unmistakably mine, so, like a dog marking its territory, I lifted my…..family photo (a great, but homeless picture from our wedding) and placed it atop the bar. The ridiculous faux alligator skin frame is another awesome TJ Maxx/HomeGoods find, and very much in keeping with the Hollywood Regency theme. A splattering of mercury glass votives add romantic candlelight, helpful for setting the mood and guiding cocktail pours. These mercury glass votives came from Pottery Barn, but I’ve since discovered nearly identical ones at Michael’s for a fraction of the price. I mixed a smattering of Waterford bud vases inherited from my grandparents with a crystal decanter, found at an antique mall, to create a warm, lived-in feeling display.
It’s easy to decorate when you have deep pockets, but when you’re a newlywed living in one of the most expensive cities on earth, you have to get clever. Stretching a dollar in in the name of home decor is a challenge I enjoy. With some creativity and patience, I believe you can find (or make) all the furnishings you need for less than $500 per piece. I put these handmade oil paintings together for $148 each.
As a renter, I realize that my furniture and decor must be fluid enough to adapt to the abode I’m living in at the time–and I therefore don’t want to splurge on a piece that will most likely be as fleeting as the apartment I’m renting. My husband and I moved into a traditional Victorian flat in San Francisco just over a year ago. Our previous apartment in Charleston, South Carolina was a modern loft carved into the bones an antebellum brick building. Needless to say, nothing we owned on the East Coast made sense in our West Coast home.
It’s taken a year to filter out most of our old furniture and replace it with pieces that work here, and, even now that we’ve reached design impasse where I can live with the house the way it is, the process of decorating is far from done. Thank goodness for outlets like Craigslist for giving our furniture and decor liquidity.
I thought I would begin sharing some of my favorite interior design steals and deals with you, starting with this pair of handmade oil paintings. They’re seen here hung in our old apartment in Charleston, but they now live in our SF flat, proving to be among the few bicoastal pieces.
Here’s how I put together these handmade oil paintings for $148 each…
I scoured the internet for artwork I liked that had the exotic mood I was going for. I found a Chinese seller on eBay who hand painted oil on canvas. He had these two works in his repertoire. The first of these paintings is an imitation of Thomas Sully’s 1823 Mrs Robert Gilmore Jr. I’m not sure what portrait the second painting is based on, but it always reminded me of Thomas Gainsborough’s Blue Boy.
I commissioned the paintings via eBay orders at a cost of $58 each, most of which fell under shipping expenses.
The canvases arrived a few weeks later rolled up in tubes. I went to the local art store and purchased canvas stretcher bars (pieces of wood that fit together to form a frame for the canvas to be stretched over) and a staple gun for about $40 total. A YouTube tutorial (like this one) taught me to stretch my own canvas. It’s incredibly easy to do.
I went to Michaels and bought two coordinating prefab frames at a cost of around $60 each and secured the stretched canvases inside.
I hung my expensive looking original oil paintings on the wall and voila!