The Ace of Entertaining :: Setting The Perfect Table

I grew up in a home where formality ruled the day, as much as it could with five children. My mother insisted on white gloves to church, backs straight as a ramrods, and our patent leather Mary Jane’s buffed to a point that I swear I could see my reflection. For most of my childhood I believed that “please” and “thank you” always began any sentence structure. There were dinner parties, where roasted pheasant sat underneath sterling silver chafing dishes paired with fragrant bowls of wild rice, and poached asparagus.  The main course often made possible after a successful day of bird hunting courtesy of my father, his “cronies” and a group of well trained bird dogs.  Before we could serve ourselves, we would line-up like the kids from the Sound of Music and wait for the guests to be served before we were allowed to fill our plates. I would like to mention that we did not have to “sing for our supper.” Thankfully.

For most of my formative years,  I was under the impression that we were somehow related to Emily Post, because my mother would always threaten us with the words “If you don’t behave, I’m going to have to write to Emily Post, and then she’ll be coming for a visit.” What? Was Emily the Santa Claus of good manners? Would she show up with a perfectly coiffed “Pillbox bob” a la Jacqueline Kennedy, her short boxy jacket crisply pressed paired with a pencil skirt hemmed to fall  just below the knee,  just to lecture me on a breach of etiquette? Or worse yet,  take away my television privileges, as my mother would often threatened us. The thought of never watching the Partridge Family was enough to ensure that I lived my childhood days under the guise of perfect behavior.

I left the proverbial nest at eighteen to attend an institution of higher learning, armed with an arsenal of etiquette “do’s” and “donts” and knowledge on how to set the perfect table. It didn’t help me get a job after college, but it did help me on the job when I worked in Washington (in the political arena), and attended lavishly appointed State dinners, and parties hosted at some of the more prestigious addresses in Georgetown. Yes, I know the difference between the seafood and salad fork, and even know that you do not drink out of finger bowls, (as one of my dates once did). So when I was in NYC in April, and saw the stunning table settings for DIFFA , it brought me back to a time when having the perfectly set table was becoming for a person of good breeding. While, it is no longer the harbinger of proper decorum, I do think that putting effort and thought into the table setting will help create an evening to remember for family and friends. Plus, it’s just plan fun to think “outside the box” and create a tablescape that is memorable and will show your guests that they are worth the extra effort.  I wanted to highlight some of my personal favorites from DIFFA (although they were all worthy of mention), and hopefully you will be inspired to set the perfect table…P.S. My apologies to Margaret Russell, Editor-in-Chief of Architectural Digest, of whom I mistook for Mary McDonald. In my defense they do look alike after a few glasses of Champagne….

diffa1

 Photo credit/ The Ace of Space Blog

diffa2

 Photo credit/ The Ace of Space Blog

This dreamscape with watercolour fabric was designed by Kara Mann as a tribute to Maya Romanoff.

diffa3

 Photo credit/ The Ace of Space Blog

3M Architectural Market Table by Rottet Studio. 

diffa4

 Photo credits/ The Ace of Space Blog

A tablescape courtesy of Barney’s N.Y…

diffa5

 Photo credit/ The Ace of Space Blog

The gauzy fabric surrounding this table was imprinted with architectural details…by none other than Phillip Gorrivan.

diffa6

 Photo credit/ The Ace of Space Blog

 This tablescape was designed by the team at Ralph Lauren, the cascading floral arrangement hanging over the table was pure genius…

diffa7

 Photo credit/ The Ace of Space Blog

This fun room was designed by the Pratt Institute…how sweet are the whimsical mosaic tiles?

diffa8

 Photo credit/ The Ace of Space Blog

Love the Andy Warhol vibe of this tablescape…

diffatabletop1

Photo credit/ The Ace of  Space Blog

A DIFFA tabletop in watercolour….

Elegant Place Setting

A “pinnable” guide to setting the perfect table…If you are serving white and red wine with multiple courses, the water glass would be placed to the left of a red wine glass, then a white wine glass would proceed the red, usually the coffee cup and saucer would not be placed on the table until the dessert course…

I do want to mention that the table displays were set for a very worthy cause, DIFFA, which stands for “Design Industries Foundation Fighting Aids.” As someone who has lost several friends to this tragic disease, I  wanted to acknowledge the purpose behind this fabulous event designed to bring awareness to AIDS and help find a cure, additionally a “standing ovation” to all those who have devoted their time and resources to make this event a resounding success who selflessly worked for “the cause and not the applause.”

As always don’t forget to visit Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram & Twitter for more design inspiration. I hope you enjoyed the first in what I hope will be a long running series-”The Ace of Entertaining.”

As always,

Be Inspired. Be Amazing.

signature



Leave a Comment

I’m Feeling Blue-(Cobalt that is)…

Now that the election is over, it’s time to get back down to business. I’ll be honest I was glued to the news for most of the day yesterday…regardless of who you voted for it’s time for our country to heal-starting today. Enough said. In a way…the old red, white and blue was the inspiration behind my post. Blue specifically..the deep rich, “paint it in my study” kind, the colour that has been inspiring designers such as Ralph Lauren for decades, and happens to be Pantone’s Colour for 2013-Monaco Blue. In fact, I sent my little fashionista to school today dressed in a Ralph Lauren Tartan plaid shirt and Cobalt Blue leggings, that is how committed I am to using blue. Because I’m pretty sure Mr. B. isn’t even going to let me add a pillow to the sofa, so why not inject a little of 2013′s trend colour into my daughter’s wardrobe? A small consolation, but I have used blue in the past, in a client’s basement (for that “Country Club” vibe), and in a Powder Room with some really stunning Osbourne and Little wallpaper (www.osbourneandlittle), a crystal chandelier and a Venetian Mirror. I still daydream about that room, but unfortunately 10 years ago, taking pictures of my work was the last thing from my mind. Now I wish I had at least one snapshot…and I might just have to replicate it very soon. Because one of my client’s told me today that she is going to let us re-do her powder room and she adores blue, which gives me a great opportunity to push the design envelope again, (all with her blessing of course).

Now from the style files comes some really fabulous bluesy interiors, and a close up of a custom headboard I did for a client last year…in a deep blue with pops of gold….

A little slice of blue heaven in this custom headboard with the gold accents….

Designer/Miles Redd

I have to admit I have been a huge fan of Miles Redd, not because he hails from Atlanta, but because he creates the most dramatic and visually stunning interiors that my baby blues have ever laid eyes on. This space is no exception, the deep blue lacquered walls, the black and white tiled floors and the red accents create the perfect fusion of colour in this NYC foyer.

From Elle Decor

This space is full of inspiration, and is a lesson in layering. The rug reminds me of a oversized crocheted doily (in a good way), and the mix of modern pieces with more relaxed furnishings creates a cozy and eclectic space. All while using a colour palette of deep blues.

via Rue Magazine

I love the layering of blues in this space, and the fact that they brought in a deeper cobalt in the artwork, although I’ll say the subject choice is…interesting. The real standout is the knotted drapery…just luscious.

via House Beautiful

I have loved this photo for so long that it’s dog-eared and faded, but it’s still pinned to my inspiration board (barely hanging by a thread)…I.LOVE.THE.FOXED.MIRRORS. In fact, a room with mirrors, cobalt and white is simply stunning.

(L)-Joel Bray, (R) Stella McCartney

From the runway to home interiors, Cobalt is making it’s regal presence known…

An ad from Ralph Lauren, using a bit of darker blue. A special mention goes out to the patina on the distressed walls….L.O.V.E.

via Ralph Lauren Home

 I’m a “little or a lot” kind of girl, there is no happy medium as far as I’m concerned. Which is why I love this little table vignette…perfection. Adding a little touch of trend colour will bring in some pizazz…

So here’s to a new start…

 For more design inspiration visit my Pinboards on Pinterest.



Leave a Comment

Horsing Around…

Horses are without a doubt the most beautiful creatures that have ever galloped this green earth. Of course, truth be told, I have homages to horses all over our home. I fell in love as a little girl, when my parents dressed me up as the female version of John Wayne (my dad’s favorite), and bought me lessons at a local barn, and off I went into the sunset on my trusty steed (okay all that really happened was that my minature mount was attached to a rope and a person, and we went around and around in a circle). Frankly, I get dizzy just thinking about it. But, needless to say it’s been unadulterated love since. I rode any chance I had, and when I lived near Saratoga, N.Y., I was lucky enough to meet one of the “Outriders” on the track, he was a retired jockey, and every Saturday, I rode on the old track they used to exercise the horses, on a Thouroughbred named Martine, just seeing the steam rise off the track, the smells of leather and hay, the sound of hooves pounding on the freshly groomed track, was just pure heaven. Martine and I had a stand-off of sorts, the first time I rode her she took off as if she just went through the starting gates at the Kentucky Derby, through the stable yard, jumping over bales of hay, avoiding everyone who tried to grab the reins of this runaway prankster. I stayed on (think mechanical bull), and earned her respect from that day on, and that of anyone who was within earshot of my screams.

If only I could have looked so graceful. Artwork by Jo Taylor (jotaylorart.com)

Of course, being around the “horsey set” was an experience that I’ll never forget. Some of the cocktail parties and dinners that I attended amongst the well-heeled, were held in some of the most elegant, sophisticated homes I’ve ever had the pleasure of stepping into. Think Ralph Lauren, on a grandier scale. Now just look at any design magazine and you are sure to see horse prints, photos or statuary all dedicated to our equine friends.

So here are some of my favs and I have to start with one of the design icons (both in fashion and home) who really epitomizes Equestrian Style…

Yup, Ralph Lauren really made Equestrian decor chic…so a “big hats off” to you Mr. Lauren.

This bedroom is situated in the home of Badgley Mishka, it’s the perfect blend of “Equestrian Chic”, from the studded nail-head chaise to the award plaques from a dressage event.  Love the black accents, I wonder if those boots are my size?

From Elle Decor, this room is just plain fab, and is an updated, hip version of “Equestrian Chic”. I absolutely love the mix of textures and color, the gray velvet chairs, the Citron pillows and the cowhide ottoman, of course the focal point is hands-down the stunner that graces the wall over the sofa. Equestrian fabulousness! Okay, one more thing aren’t the sconces simply to die for? See how easy it is to add some “horsey” elements to a room?

 This is not Martine jumping across this page…but, a photo from none other than photographer extraordinaire -Yann Arthus Bertrand, I have been a huge admirer since I saw an outdoor exhibit of his work in Copenhagen, Denmark years ago. He captures the essence of the sheer power, beauty and strength of a horse, and this is hands-down one of my fav photos of all time. Plus I love the color inspiration, cognac and black.

This hallway was designed by one of my fav Atlanta designers and friend, Jimmy Stanton of Stanton Home Furnishings, it was from a show-house he did at Foxhall, an equestrian community outside the ATL. It’s the perfect tribute, from the black and white montage of horses on the wall, to the adorable bench complete with stylized horse legs. Jimmy, my friend, another home run…

One of my favorite books is “Horse,” by Kelly Klein, who compiled the most breath-taking horse photos that I have ever seen. It’s quite large, and it makes the most perfect coffee-table book (which is exactly where I have it). Mr. B has still not quite gotten over the fact that I have a $100.00 book on our coffee table that he can’t set his drinks on.

From Elle Decor, how fabulous are the booted legs of this Equestrian desk?

Just goes to show, you can work a horse into any interior. This room would have been amazing without the print over the sofa, but I think it just adds a pop of drama. Love the contrast of blue and orange. Orange always makes me think of Hermes, which then makes me think of horses (ah…there is nothing like an Hermes scarf with Equestrian motifs).

Kelly Bensimon (of the NY Housewives fame), had these pillows made from vintage Hermes scarves, and it’s hands-down a “brizilliant” idea. Seriously, I have always been a fan of re-purposing, and this can be done with just about any scarf. In fact, I have 3 vintage Chanel scarfs that are destined to become luxurious pillows.

This is my scarf, soon to be a pillow. 

These vintage prints are actually place mats from Rebecca Ray rebeccaraydesign.com. You could put them in frames and use them as prints on the wall, it’s so easy to add some “Equestrian Chicness” to your interior. (Any print would work, check magazines, books for pics that you like and pop them in a  frame).

Of course, an equestrian interior wouldn’t be complete without a requisite hound dog, yup my little pup wouldn’t get out of the pic, I actually think she’s the perfect prop in this vignette at our house. So I thought, I would share. But, don’t let her fool you she was so working “the look” for a treat. I did want to mention that if you haven’t already please click on the badge “Finalist-Best New Design Blog.” in the category under “Places to Find Me,” in the right hand column, this will take you to the voting page for the Design Bloggers Conference. Don’t forget to vote for your favorite blogs, I am honored to be one of the finalists, but every vote counts (I feel like I’m running for office). So a big thank-you to all my supporters.

“In riding a horse, we buy freedom.”-Helen Bergin

Be amazing…

Vicki “The Ace of Space” Bolick

Bolick Interiors, LLC



2 Comments