Kelly Christakos Stivers
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Thursday
Aug252016

my favorite, budget-friendly entertaining must-haves 

I really thought I'd be sent to labor and delivery yesterday morning after my 38 week checkup, but instead I'm going on week three at 2 cm and 50% effaced, so it's back to regularly scheduled programming for a little while longer.  I don't know if it's my nesting urge or the fact that I haven't been able to actually "nest" with a renovation going on, but I'm seriously in entertaining mode lately.  I'm all about setting a gorgeous dinner table for leftovers or takeout for me, the hubby and baby girl and playing around with fresh flowers for centerpieces.  Because a pretty presentation just makes food taste better, right??

Over the past few years I've accumulated quite a few entertaining staples that have made it super easy to throw together a stylish little get together, whether it be at the last minute or just to dress up a fancy table for the hubby and I on a Friday night after little miss has gone to bed.  I've come to rely on basics like simple white dinnerware and serving platters, French-inspired wine glasses, textured chargers and loads of vessels for flowers and candles, leaving me free to go crazy with floral arrangements and fun accessories for color and fun! 

Here are a few basics I use time and time again; the best part is that they are all relatively inexpensive, but none of your guests would guess that!

Simple white dinnerware and serveware.  Such a simple, neutral base for a classic table setting!  Mine came from TJMaxx and they've held up well over the years, but I love these both for the price and the look.  I also love to mix them with a patterned salad plate for a little color (these are a favorite).  You can never go wrong with large white platters from TJMaxx and HomeGoods for serving, either - I never pay more than $10 for mine and I always try to mix different shapes and sizes for interest.

Water hyacinth chargers.  The Soare chargers from Ikea are $4 a piece but what they add in texture and interest to a table setting is immeasurable!  Since they're so budget-friendly, I don't worry when marinara sauce or red wine end up on one of them!

French wine glasses from Crate and Barrel.  A set of twelve of these glasses will run you less than $50!  I use mine for water, wine or holding small arrangements of flowers; their shape is so pretty, I absolutely love them!

Glass candle holders in various shapes and sizes.  Michael's has the best short, squat vases on sale for 50% off all the time and they're the perfect base for floral arrangements because they aren't too tall to not be able to see the person sitting across from you (I hate that!) but I also love to stick unscented, white candles from the dollar store in them and spread them out along my table and around the kitchen when I have company for a little ambience.  This pack of 72 white glass votives is another great deal and make a lovely presentation down the center of a table!

Trays for cocktails.  I'm probably one of the few people left in blogland that doesn't own a bar cart but I manage to make do just fine, thanks to a pretty impulsive collection of rattan trays! I have quite a few from Target, TJMaxx and HomeGoods, but I love this marble and brass beauty, too!  I set one on my kitcen counter and corral tumblers, liquor, limes, ice and mixers so guests can easily help themselves.

Chic ice bucket.  I'm still as obsessed with my tortoise ice bucket from Furbish as I was when I got it for Christmas.  It always adds just a little sophistication to even the most casual get togethers and it doubles often as a vessel for flowers!

Bread board.  Occasionally, I like to mix it up from serving appetizers on white platters or trays, and an oversize bread board is my go-to lately, especially when it's large enough to put everything on it at once!

Bamboo flatware.  I'm obsessed with this set of 20 piece Bamboo flatware from Horchow!  It just adds another layer of interest and texture to my table and the price just can't be beat.  Many have asked how they have held up since I bought them back in May and they're great! 

What are some of your favorite entertaining must-haves?

Monday
Aug222016

sarah bartholomew in southern living

When I first read that the home of Nashville-based interior decorator Sarah Bartholomew would be featured in the September issue of Southern Living, I started making extra trips to the mailbox to see when it would finally land in mine.  I've been a huge fan of Bartholomew's classic, all-American style, not to mention her love of blue and white as well as how effortlessly she mixes traditional and antique pieces with modern art and treasures so, it's no surprise I've been pouring over the issue since I got my paws on it over the weekend!  Equally impressive is the fact that she is momma to FOUR littles! Her beautiful home is testament to the fact that you don't have to sacrifice personal style when you have children!  From her blue and white color palette with pops of green, lots of texture, beautiful antiques, artwork and fabric, Monday morning eye candy doesn't get much better than this:


Here are my picks for getting a similar look:

Bamboo mirror / Beachcomber basket / Ginger jar / Woven Malawi chair / Leopard lumbar pillow

Topiary / Resin coral / Throw pillow / Soare charger / Embroidered napkin

Gourd lamp / Blake raffia coffee table / Bamboo flatware / Striped vase

Hope you're all off to a great start this weekend!

Friday
Aug192016

fab (blue + white) finds $50 or less

Our guest suite reno/addition is in full swing upstairs, which means that the rest of my house is completely upended to accommodate all the construction going on.  Since I'm heavy into nesting mode right now and can't really do anything about it, I've resorted to what any other 38 week pregnant woman would do when her pregnancy-induced insomnia strikes - SHOP!  Budget-friendly finds are always at the top of my list but especially now when I still have to finish the upstairs and then complete a nursery afterward, so each and every one of my finds in today's roundup is not only fabulous, but each is less than $50!  I also, rather subconsciously, rounded up every blue and white and natural textured decorative item I could find, so you're welcome! 

This gorgeous blue and white striped Turkish towel is an end-of-summer staple and would make for a great transition into fall as a picnic blanket!

This porcelain sea urchin is the perfect addition to a coffee table, bookshelf or a stack of books.

I have this rope tassel brass bottle opener and love it!  It adds just the right nautical touch to a summer barbeque and looks equally fabulous perched on a bar cart!

A set of three blue and white porcelain bud vases are such an easy way to add color and interest to a table setting - these are lovely.

Capri Blue Volcano is one of my all-time favorite candle scents and the pop of blue from the jar is just as beautiful!

I'm obsessed with this textured glass pitcher with gold rim detailing and matching glasses - and the price will make you do a double take!

I got my hubby the larger size of this handmade ghost ship kite for his birthday and it's so pretty in person, it's more like a work of art!

This batik-inspired boho throw pillow is gorgeous - and so soft!  The price is so good, too!

A straw tote is the quintessential summer staple - they are perfect for running errands or toting towels and magazines to the pool or beach - but, I have to say, they look just as amazing hanging on a door during summer months, too!

I love tortoise shell as much as I love bamboo and rafia and this little beauty of a catchall is so chic and would make for a lovely hostess gift!

How chic are these navy tassel rafia placemats??  Perfect for end-of-summer get togethers!

The only thing I may love more than a beautiful brass door knocker is a monogrammed one!  These initial knockers are not only gorgeous, but would make a wonderful house warming gift!

Who doesn't love blue and white ginger jars?  This petite version is only $18!

How ADORABLE is this blue and white creamer set

My love for all things pineapple is a close second to my love for all things blue and white....these matches would be a lovely compliment to a candle as a gift and would look just as beautiful sitting on a coffee table or sink!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday
Aug172016

diy versailles planters

My super sweet hubby made me a pair of Versailles planters to flank my front door for Mother's Day this year and I absolutely LOVE how they turned out!  He's made me a lot of things over the years, but these are definitely my new favorites, hands down.  I finally got around to taking some pictures of them over the weekend so I could share the steps on how he made them, in case any of you were interested in making a pair of your own!  There are a ton of different plans online (you can see a few I posted here) but the hubby ended up winging it for mine and they couldn't have turned out better!  These bad boys are on the larger side, which is exactly what I wanted; I tend to think almost anything oversize makes for a much more dramatic impression and that's definitely what I got with these!

We got everything he needed at Lowe's - all the wood was plain old white pine, nothing fancy, because I was going to paint the planters once he built them.  My planters are 33 inches high (with the finals) and 25 inches wide; here is the cut list for ours:

What you'll need:

(2) 2 inch x 2 inch x 8 foot pieces, cut to 30 inches long, for the corner pieces (4 pieces per box)

(10) 1 inch x 6 inch x 8 foot boards, cut to 27 inch pieces.  We used 4 pieces per side of each box (so you'll need 16 pieces per box)

(5) 1 inch x 3 inch x 8 foot boards, cut to 22 inch pieces, for the top and bottom of each side of the box (you'll need 8 pieces per box).

One pack of 1 1/4 inch wood screws

One pack of 1 1/4 inch kreg jig screws

Kreg jig

Table saw

Drill

Decorative wood finials

Primer, paint, paint brush

To make the process a little more seamless, he cut all of the wood for each box at once:

Next, he assembled each of the sides, screwing each 27 inch board to the top and bottom pieces using an electric drill:

Using a kreg jig, he then attached the corners to each piece:

This is what each side will look like when you're done:

Next, attach each side to the other using your kreg jig; of course, I don't have a picture of this step, but you'd basically do the same as you did to attach the corner pieces to each side.  It will look like this when you're done:

Once each box was done, we drilled holes in the top of each corner and attached round wooden curtain finials.  I used these from Lowe's:

Next up, I gave them two coats of primer and three coats of glossy white exterior latex paint (I used Sherwin Williams Extra White), letting each coat dry completely before applying the next and that was it!

I usually have the biggest ferns I can find flanking my front door but this year it was too hot and I was way too pregnant to be gallivanting all over town looking for some, so I settled for two palms from Lowe's in each, instead.  I actually think I like them just as much as the ferns!  To keep them at the right height inside the boxes, my husband used some scrap wood to build a bottom inside, about a foot down from the top.

Every time I turn onto my street, I smile to myself at the impact these beauties make on our front porch.  The white is so crisp against the green palms and the size is so dramatic - the exact first impression I want to make when greeting guests to my house!

Happy Hump Day, everyone!

Monday
Aug152016

one of the prettiest instagram accounts

If a good instagram feed is one where you want to "like" every photo, then Maura Endres (@m.o.endres) has a truly amazing one, because not only do I LOVE each and every photo she posts, but I feel a little like a stalker because I'm constantly going back to sneak more peeks of her stunning home, her beautiful gardens and her perfectly styled vignettes!  Not only does she have a discerning eye for interior design and styling, but she also happens to be one of the sweetest people on Instagram.  I wish she would start a blog so we could get a closer look at her lovely home, but in the meantime, I'm loving every picture she posts on Instagram.  So much goodness in such tiny squares!  It was so hard to narrow it down and pick favorites to post here on the blog, but these are pretty darn perfect eye candy - the best way to kick off a new week!

Who are some of your favorites to follow on Instagram?

Happy Monday, everyone!