Oh My Gourd! It’s Halloween!

Oh My Gourd! It’s Halloween!

Tricks and treats for tables so chic it’s spooky

Though hard to believe, the holiday season is upon us again, christened by the advent of that fabled height of haunts, Halloween. As shadows lengthen and the air turns crisp, our entertaining fervor is reaching fever pitch!

A supernatural, chic affair is in order; one that’s ghoulish, graphic, and glamorous. Leave behind the usual suspects—skulls and bones be gone! —and make these tablescapes colorful, a little wild, and a lot lavish with centerpieces of colorful candy, dazzling confections, and nature’s bounty aplenty (hello pumpkins).

The best part? We let our favorite, year-round dining essentials do all the heavy lifting. With just a few festive tweaks, each piece is transformed into something spooky, chic, and impossible to forget!

Sweet Treats

Candy is king for a Halloween bash! One can never go wrong with mountains of sweets and savories, pumpkins, and confection-inspired hues scattered down the table for a happy, Halloween feast.

An off-white tablecloth creates a pleasing background for our brilliantly colored Sprinkles Placemats, with technicolor specks reminiscent of your favorite childhood candies. Atop this cheery foundation, we like to pack a punch with carbon-colored cutlery and white dishes topped with the most whimsical of pastries—sugar skull cookie, anyone?

Cluster Jack-o-Lanterns and pumpkins with a healthy helping of candy corn interspersed, and you’ve got yourself a happy holiday table!

Holiday Harvest

Let Mother Nature’s bounty grace your next soiree.
We updated our favorite summer tablescape just in time for a harvest celebration. A light orange tablecloth zested up by our Woven Fringe Placemats and Coasters in shocking shades of orange and white, white porcelain plates, and our go-to glassware and bamboo cutlery look elegant and easy in the warm fall light.

For a centerscape that is sure to wow, select little pumpkins in shades of white and orange—variegated squashes are a cheery bonus—and weave them around simple vases of dahlias in the same hues.
The result is equal parts chic and cozy!

Pattern Punch

Want to host a party that is graphic without the gore? Opt for the most saturated hues of this season’s colors—orange, black, and white.

Lay down a richly colored tablecloth—we prefer this punchy orange number—and mark each place with our beaded Geo Placemats as your foundation. Matte black plates and cutlery add a touch of haunting drama. Tie dark-colored napkins with our Beaded Napkin Rings and set out smoked drinking glasses for spiked ciders or bourbon beverages. Pumpkins and gourds in happy shades of green and yellow top off this festive setting.

With your entertaining bones at the ready, let loose your spooky sensibilities and have fun creating spellbinding tables that are sure to keep your guests talking!

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Ask the Expert: Entertaining at Home with Christopher Spitzmiller

Ask the Expert: Entertaining at Home with Christopher Spitzmiller

Christopher’s iconic ceramic lamp designs draw inspiration from classical forms and traditional gem like glazes. He began his career in 1996 in Washington, D.C. then moving to New York City in 1999, where he now creates his one of-a-kind lamps with his crew of skilled artisans. The lamps are of timeless appeal and luxurious quality. Christopher has expanded his designs to tableware and other ceramic accessories.

Christopher’s work is often featured in celebrated publications such as Architectural Digest, Town and Country, Elle Décor, Veranda, The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. He has had the honor of making lamps for the Oval Office, the past four White House Administrations, as well as the Blair House and other distinguished American homes.

When not in the Studio, Christopher can be found at his farm in Millbrook, NY gardening, bee keeping, making jam, cooking for friends, or tending to his flock of heritage breed chickens.

 

We asked Christopher to discuss his aesthetic vision with us and share his tips for entertaining at home.

Von Gern Home: How are you planning to celebrate Labor Day?
Christopher Spitzmiller: We’re at home for Labor Day. A friend from Rochester is visiting. Hoping for a quiet weekend…The following weekend is my 50th Birthday so we’ll be getting ready for that.

VGH: Your book, A Year At Clove Brook Farm, brings the reader through a full year of entertaining at your beautiful Millbrook farm. As an artist and ceramicist, what is the most inspiring thing about the summer months?
CS: The succession of flowers: snow drops, tulips, camassia, peonies, roses, sweet peas, lilies, and lastly dahlias. The garden inspires me all year long!

VGH: How does your artistic process change with the season?
CS: I spend more time in the garden in the summer, so I am less prolific in the studio during these months. The fall and winter are when I make the most. Thankfully the studio operates at full speed at all times of year.

VGH: How does your entertaining style change with the season? What is the most exciting thing about entertaining in the summer?
CS: Eating outside as much as possible. We have a roaming table, moving it from garden to garden. Two weeks ago we ate by the lilies. It was just like the John Singer Sargent painting Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose.

VGH: What’s on your table this season?
CS: Woven Fringe Placemats are fun with my blue and white marble plates. We use a lot of my Peony, Sweet Pea and Dahlia plates in the summer. I favor tall photophore hurricanes and tea lights to light the table at night. There’s nothing worse than eating in the dark.

VGH: When you set your table, where do you start in your tablescape design?
CS: I usually start with a tablecloth that reflects the mood of the table I’m setting and then work in the plates and whatever flowers are in season. I try to keep the flowers low so I can see my guests.

VGH: Tell us a little bit about your ideal dinner party. What’s the perfect setting, your signature cocktail, and what’s on your party playlist?
CS: Pretty much what I have described above. My fiancée, Anthony, is our bartender. He offers wine—red and rosé—and an Aperol Spritz. We play jazz or some other non-intrusive music.

VGH: What is on your dinner menu?
CS: I grill steaks, roast chicken and often serve lobster in the summer. Fresh tomatoes and burrata. Corn when it’s in season. Anthony is the baker and makes most of our desserts. He does a great Rhubarb tart and a fall-over key lime pie.

VGH: What’s your go-to host/hostess gift?
CS: I give homemade jams, eggs from the farm or flowers from the garden depending on what’s in bloom.

VGH: You’re an artist as well as an expert at entertaining. How is designing a ceramics collection different from and similar to curating a beautiful home?
CS: I want my pieces to be used. I like to say each day is all we have. I want my plates to be able to go from your Thanksgiving table to dinner for two to your Tuesday night dinner with family!

VGH: And you’re also a beekeeper, cook, and farmer! How do you think your sustainable lifestyle at Clove Brook Farm has influenced your artistic practice?
CS: We photograph my favorite flowers and have transfers made from them. They fire into the plate and become part of the glaze. My rule is that the flower must be grown here at Clove Brook Farm to make it on the plate.

VGH: Describe your artistic aesthetic in five words or less.
CS: Clean, classic, timeless.

VGH: What sets artistically designed tableware apart?
CS: We make everything by hand and that shows. Traces of the hand are present in every single piece we make. No two marble plates are the same.

VGH: What projects are you currently working on?
CS: We’re always making new lamp shapes. There are new faux bois dinner plates I’m working on and a few other collaborations that will be coming out soon.

VGH: And finally, who would you invite to your dream dinner party – dead or alive?
CS: My friends—Martha Stewart, Bunny Williams, John Rosselli and Carolyne Roehm. No party here is complete without dear Ashley Whittaker and her family!

Images courtesy of Christopher Spitzmiller  Visit https://christopherspitzmiller.com/ to learn more about Christopher’s work. 

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Woven & Wonderful

Woven & Wonderful

Get your summer table popping with color and texture to boot!

With so many hours of evening summer sun, we are taking advantage of the day’s last rays and moving our dinners outside. Lit by candles and bistro bulbs alike, these backyard fêtes are colorful affairs grounded by tablescapes as cheerful and colorful as the company.

Taking our color cues from far-flung color destinations like Amalfi, Mexico City, and Santorini, we are spicing up our summer soirees with beautiful shades of yellow, orange, and pink. So, get inspired and set a date. You have a party to plan!

Richly Romantic

If a trip to Positano is not on your roster this summer, bring the colorful magic of its bougainvillea bursting with pink buds atop walls of rich ochre to your home with a decadent summer dinner full of colors that delight.

Lay down a colorful tablecloth in a fun hue or cheery pattern—we’re loving Josef Hoffman prints for their playfulness and bold colors. Taking notes from the the hues on display, layer our Woven Fringe Placemats on top for a sustainable, statement-making base (Fun fact: These pieces are handmade of sustainably sourced recycled twine).

Top your placemats with delicate dishes in shades of blue and white (Royal Copenhagen anyone?) for an unexpected change in scale and color. Simple flatware set atop linen napkins with hems in a shocking pink keep things playful and make room for simple drinking glasses.

For a gorgeous, sustainable centerpiece, pile this season’s citrus and other ripe fruits in the center of the table and place a piece on every plate for a pop of color and a tasty after dinner treat.

Fiesta Fantastic

Needing a tablescape that feels fresh and fun day to night? Look no further than Mexico City for color and pattern inspiration a-plenty. Our high-impact setting works perfectly for a weekend brunch, al fresco luncheon, or sizzling evening soiree. Whip up a pitcher of sangria or margaritas, dishes of homemade salsa and guacamole, and let us show you the rest!

Starting with a colorful, checked tablecloth, set out our Woven Rattan Placemats—we chose pink to complement the tablecloth’s hues—and top them with zesty, glazed plates. Place a carnation or rose on each plate for a bit of drama or tie up colorful napkins with our beaded Floral Napkin Rings for sweet floral touches.

As a final, fun touch, serve ice-cold Topo Chico waters and margaritas atop our Woven Fringe Coasters. Salud!

Thank you @shoptheavenue for creating this beautiful table setting.

Colorfully Complementary

Like Santorini at sunset, this summery tablescape comes alive with fresh hues of orange and blue. It’s a perfect color pairing for breezy brunches and simple suppers. We combined a delicate, floral tablecloth with our orange Woven Rattan Placemats to create an eye-catching base for each place setting.

Topped with vividly colored, floral plates, white linen napkins, and bamboo-stemmed flatware, this tablescape balances petite prints and details with enough bold colors and textures to entertain the eye. Bud vases filled with loose bunches of orange blooms and bowls of fresh peaches continue the color story down the table while keeping things simple and chic.

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Ask the Expert: Party Tips with Chris Hessney

Ask the Expert: Party Tips with Chris Hessney

Chris is the founder, president, and creative director of Hessney & Co., an international event production and design agency based out of New York City. With a strong background in event management and design as well as a commitment to a personalized approach, Chris has worked with such notable NYC entertainment giants as restaurateur Stephen Starr, Chef Morimoto, and Andrew Balazs, and he was an integral part of the opening team at The Standard Highline. After serving as the Corporate Style director of EMM Group, Chris extended his brand collaborations to include Armani, Goop, Netflix, and Martha Stewart Weddings, and in 2020 he was recognized by Harper’s Bazaar Magazine as one of the top wedding florists in the world. Chris’ impeccable eye for design and attention to detail put him in a class by himself, making Hessney & Co. synonymous with excellence on the event planning stage. Visit https://hessneyandco.com/ for more information about Chris’s work. 

Von Gern Home: How are you celebrating July Fourth?
Chris Hessney: My husband, our dog, and I are going up to Vermont to visit my sister and her kids.

VGH: What is your ideal summer dinner party setting?
Chris: Ideally, I would be dining al fresco every night in the Italian countryside surrounded by candlelight.

VGH: What is on your table?
Chris: On my table right now are Paravicini plates, Sabre flatware, Baccarat glasses, Sferra linens, and Von Gern Home placemats.

VGH: What is on your summer dinner menu?
Chris: Summer for me is Italian and all about what’s in season. Heirloom tomatoes, fruits, an array of meats or cheeses. Cook what’s fresh and good.

VGH: Describe your aesthetic in five words or less.
Chris: Priceless and timeless.

VGH: Give us three tips for setting the perfect table.
Chris: Have fun with it, embrace the space you’re working with, and make it make sense.
Extra tip, a good tablescape is all about layering.

VGH: What is on your dinner party playlist ?
Chris: For a bigger dinner party, I prefer a more upbeat vibe. Artists like Balearic Beats or Hôtel Costes are always on my cocktail hour playlist. I’m also really into Lil Nas X right now.

VGH: What tabletop element should one never go without?
Chris: A table can never have too many flowers.

VGH: What is your signature dinner party cocktail?
Chris: My favorite go-to is batching a great margarita with Casa Dragones. Nothing like tequila to get the party started.

VGH: Name three ingredients of a successful party.
Chris: Good lighting, good music, and a tantalizing tablescape.

VGH: Dream dinner party venue?
Chris: Villa Astor on the Amalfi Coast in Italy.

VGH: Go-to hostess gift?
Chris: Von Gern Home lacquer tray set with your favorite bottle of alcohol.

VGH: What is one item you would never entertain without?
Chris: Never go without candle light.

VGH: What projects are you currently working on?
Chris: We’re working on some very exciting things but unfortunately we can’t say.

VGH: Who would you invite to your dream dinner – dead or alive?
Chris: Salvador Dali.

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Summer in Style

Summer in Style

Tips for setting a memorable summer table

Memorial Day is just around the corner, and with it the start of summer entertaining. For some chic and festive frills, we’re breaking out our favorite new tableware in patriotic hues of red, white, and blue. Use the colors individually for easy, summery evenings, or combine them all for a serious Memorial Day splash. But don’t stop there – this decor will keep your table effortlessly celebratory all the way through Labor Day and beyond. So, fire up the grill, stir up some sangria, and start setting up for a summer of soirees!

American Dream

For a table that is equal parts peppy and patriotic, start with a neutral tablecloth in an unassuming pattern—think ticking stripe, petite polka dots, or monochromatic embroidery—and layer these beaded Splatter Placemats on top. Alternate between blue and red for added visual interest and top with sleek, white plates.

Napkins with spunky blue and white fringe look their best rolled up inside these gorgeous Wood & Stripes napkin rings. Complement them with bamboo flatware for added texture and finish off the look with simple glassware. Inject a bit of whimsy with these brilliantly lacquered Starfish and Turtles in red, white, and blue, then pop some flowers along the table for a few easy centerpieces.

With a tablescape like this we’re thinking burgers, barbeque, grilled veggies, and raspberry sorbet, topped with fresh berries and a sprig of mint. The overall effect, from setting the table right through to dessert, is festive without a hint of fussiness—just how we like our Memorial Day celebrations!

Classic Combinations

You simply can’t go wrong with blue and white for entertaining in the summer months, but our tableware offers a few surprises to update and enliven this classic combo.

Set each place with a blue and white Splatter Placemat and round, white dinner plates. For a nautical twist, anchor your napkin in an elegantly knotted Rope Napkin Ring a little off the center of the plate. Add clear or blue glasses and use a handy white Lacquer Tray on one corner to hold drinks and table extras.

Create a layered centerpiece of flowers and decorative objects for a unifying focal point. Some bright Starfish accessories and a few blooms in coordinating colors, like these stunning Anemones we chose, finish off this tablescape with fun and flair.

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Four Swanky Spring Place Settings

Four Swanky Spring Place Settings

Warning: these four swanky Spring place settings may outshine your entree!

Put your parkas away—Spring is here! Buds, blooms, and bright, sunny days—the undeniable signs of the new season—beckon us to throw open the windows and begin dining al fresco. Here, we have compiled our favorite Spring dinner table ideas to help you elevate your entertaining game and enchant your guests. Think: unconventional color palettes, eye-catching place settings, and swoon-worthy centerpieces.

Stripes and solids lacquer placemat white turquoise
Navy and white lacquer stripe placemat

Citrus Club

To add zest to your tabletop, forgo flowers in favor of a citrus centerpiece. Sumatra oranges, clementines, and cantaloupe melons look elegant bunched together atop a striped linen tablecloth, lending color and texture aplenty to your table.

Carry that texture to your place setting with these zesty, woven fringe placemats and coordinating coasters. Topped with simple, striped plates (cut citrus, anyone?), colorful cutlery, and everyday glassware, the overall effect is fruity and fresh.

Navy rope napkin ring

Pastel Punch

Nothing signals the start of Spring quite like the cheery, yellow face of a daffodil. So why not set a table inspired by the bountiful blooms?

For a classic, upbeat base, lay a pastel-colored tablecloth in an unexpected pattern—we love pink marbled linen. Next, enliven your table with these yellow, reversible patent placemats (you can choose sunny yellow or crisp white). Simple, pastel plates and clear glassware echo the modern feel of placemats while adding a refreshing contrast.

Tie your setting together with matching marbled napkins cinched with our beaded, floral napkin rings. With a color scheme this brilliant, your guests won’t miss a centerpiece, though we will never say no to a vase of floppy daffodils.
The only challenge now? Making sure your menu is just as avant-garde!

Red ombre round placemat

Linear Luncheon

Maximalism not your thing? Forgo flowery linens and indulge in stripes instead.

Begin with a graphic tablecloth (we used purple and white stripes to add interest). Next, add these striped lacquer placemats and coordinating coasters. Their curvilinear form adds unexpected interest to the table.
Simple, striped plates and napkins complete the geometric layers. Finish off your place setting with tortoiseshell cutlery and colored glassware for chic visual interest.

In lieu of a large flower arrangement, scatter bud vases down the table with blooms in coordinating hues. Top it all off with a platter of palette-cleansing citrus.

Maasai multi beaded placemat

Garden Variety

For a decadent dinner with friends, save the drama for the table.

Create a bold scene with a festive, floral tablecloth and take your color cues from it. Next, set out these patent reversible placemats in punchy shades of pink and fuchsia. For a generous portion of visual interest, opt for black plates, cutlery, and napkins tied together with pink ombre napkin rings. For extra feminine flair, consider these floral napkin rings instead.

Bunches of loose blooms and bowls of peppy pink candy make for an easy finish. Typically reserved for autumnal tables, groupings of red flowers look right in this springy tablescape and lend a lovely contrast to the pink-hued place settings.

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Three Chic and Easy Easter Table Ideas

Three Chic and Easy Easter Table Ideas

Make your Easter holiday festive no matter your style.

As the days get longer and buds begin to appear on thawing branches, spring is finally in the air! For those who celebrate Easter, that means preparing for egg hunts, Easter brunch, and all the other ways to celebrate the holiday of renewal and rebirth. But even if Easter church service isn’t part of your family tradition, everyone can get inspired by Easter tablescapes that celebrate the best of the spring season—no matter your style.

Read on for three takes on setting a festive Easter (or simply spring!) table. With a backdrop this pretty, your guests will be as happy eating takeout as that honey-baked ham.

Pretty in Pink Tea

Nothing screams spring quite like pink—the color of freshly-bloomed rosebuds, and maybe a few dyed Easter eggs, too. For a rosy table setting that’s pretty but still fresh, we balanced all that pink with cool teal and sea foam. Here’s how to get the look: First, start with a floral tablecloth—ideally a pattern where pink is splashed throughout, not the dominant hue.

Next, layer on these patent leather reversible placemats (they’re reversible, so you have two options for pink shades!). Add white plates with a bit of contrasting color for added visual interest, then top with a napkin in an ombre napkin ring to tie back to all those rosy hues. Since your flowers are already on your table, there’s no need for cut stems in a centerpiece; instead, line the table with bowls of pink Easter candy for a sweet alternative.

For a setting this pretty, we’re envisioning an English tea service—serve all the trappings on a coordinating lacquer tray.

Minimal Cheese Course

All those flowers not your thing? Don’t fret: Instead, go laid-back minimal with a neutral table setting whose light, natural hues still evoke the freshness of spring.

Begin with a plain table or white tablecloth (a natural linen is ideal), then set these lacquer stripe placemats in gray and yellow or navy and white for a subtle touch of pattern. Accent with natural napkins and finish with simple, everyday plates, cutlery, and glassware.

Then, make the cheese board your centerpiece! Select a mix of hard and soft cheeses in different shapes to create a sculptural spread, then accent with bowls of colorful fruits, olives, nuts, or jams. No bouquets needed!

Juicy Brunch

What’s better than a fresh-squeezed cup of citrus juice? Well, a tablescape inspired by one! For a fresh spin on beachy style, swap the nautical motifs for a fruit-centric spread.

Lay a tablecloth in a solid yellow or small-scape pattern, then top it with yellow fringe placemats (we love how their edges look like beach umbrellas from above!)—and matching coasters! Choose plates with a spoke motif to subtly echo the shape of cut citrus, then top with napkins cinched with these bright floral napkin rings in juicy yellow. Finish with bamboo flatware to give a dash of natural texture.

Then, for the centerpiece: Cut citrus of varying sizes into wedges and arrange in a line, dotting with decorative starfish for an extra nod to the beach. This table decoration will smell even better than flowers!

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How to Make Easy and Elegant Table Decorations

How to Make Easy and Elegant Table Decorations

It doesn’t have to cost a lot to set a beautiful tablescape. Here, 10 easy ways to dress up your table for any occasion.

Looking to add a little excitement to your table? No, it doesn’t have to mean breaking out the fine china—or breaking the bank. The options for creating a beautiful tablescape are limitless. In fact, we think the most beautiful accent pieces for dining room are the ones that are unusual, inventive, and creative.

With many of us stuck at home, there’s never been a better time to experiment with creating easy table decorations with items already in our homes. Here, we suggest 10 tips for creating a lush, inviting table. Trust us, it’s easier than you think.

Stripes and solids lacquer placemat white turquoise
Navy and white lacquer stripe placemat

1. Start with a simple base

A beautiful table setting doesn’t mean you need an expensive tablecloth. In fact, if you’re looking to build a layered setting, simple is best. Try laying down brown kraft paper (our favorite for its low price and casual, textural vibe—plus easy cleanup!) or a length of simple canvas or drop-cloth.

Pair with: Floral Napkin Rings will add color to the neutral backdrop. Plus, these against brown paper evoke the look of a freshly-wrapped bouquet!

2. Add texture

While color and pattern may be the first things that come to mind when setting a table, texture is one of the easiest ways to add visual interest. Have a wooden table? Lean into that by leaving it bare and contrasting with sleek table accessories. Alternately, set a cloth in a nubby linen. If you prefer a smoother look for your backdrop, bring in texture with other natural elements—shells, stones, feathers, and dried flowers all make great table accessories.

Pair with: Lacquer Shell Placemats add depth and shine against a matte or organic backdrop.

Floral napkin ring
Navy rope napkin ring

3. Dress up grocery store flowers

You don’t need to go to the florist to get a beautiful table arrangement. Scoop up whatever flowers are on offer at your local grocery store and rearrange them into vessels of your choosing. Our favorite options: Mix several different types of flowers for a large centerpiece, or separate a few stems into several smaller containers and group together. Don’t have vases? No problem! Stick flowers in water glasses, pitchers, or even trim them at the tip of the stem and float in bowls.

Pair with: Beaded Napkin Rings will pull out the colors in simpler floral arrangements.

4. Use houseplants

If you really can’t get your hands on flowers, why not make use of what you already have? That’s right—that succulent you’ve been nurturing can be a centerpiece too. So can any houseplant. Bonus: It won’t die after the party!

Pair with: An elegant serving tray! This Lacquer Tray can hold a plant on the table without any water, dirt, or leaves getting on the table.

Red ombre round placemat

5. Incorporate personal objects

For a truly unique table setting, look to personal items. Small frames, boxes, and other tokens or mementos can all play a part in table design: Stick placecards in miniature frames, use a decorative box or caddy to hold salt and pepper—the possibilities are endless.

Pair with: Pearl Coasters will make a pretty pair with antique items in metal, wood, or glass.

6. Mix and match

The full dinner set is overrated: Have fun at your table by mixing plates, glassware, linens, and cutlery. And yes, you can blend casual and formal! Better yet? Throw in some vintage.

Pair with: Zinc & Leather Napkin Rings will unify a variety of different napkin patterns.

Maasai multi beaded placemat

7. Incorporate metallics

Adding a dose of metallic is sure to up the glam factor, even if you’re setting the table with kraft paper and everyday plates. If you don’t have a fancy silver set, try using a decorative metal tray as a centerpiece, or incorporate brass accents.

Pair with: Metallic Placemats bring that glow—plus, they’re reversible, so you can opt for silver, gold, or a combination!

8. Think outside the centerpiece

A massive vase smack in the middle of the table isn’t the only option: Deconstruct the traditional centerpiece by placing single bud vases down a long table, or lay dried flowers, pinecones, or other natural elements right on the table for a flat interpretation. Bonus: You won’t have to peer around flowers to see the person across from you.

Pair with: Accent pieces like Decorative Starfish strewn across the table will add an unexpected element.

Orange and white fringe placemat
Green and white fringe placemat

9. Play with placecards

These don’t just have to be for black-tie dinners! Add a special, personal touch with placecards, which give all the more options for fun design statements. Write names on pieces of cardstock and place them in teacups, sharpie names on stones or shells—the possibilities are endless.

Pair with: A fun coaster set! Fringe Coasters at each place setting will invite guests to set down their drink as soon as they find their name.

10. Don’t forget the candles!

The cheapest, easiest way to create an inviting ambience? Candlelight. Pick up tapers from your local store or stick votives in bowls, cups, or on saucers. Can’t find any in time? Light any scented candles you have around the house—just don’t place them on the table, or their smell will mess with your meal. Instead, light them on sideboards, coffee tables, or shelves around the dining room.

Pair with: Graphic Sparkle Placemats echo the yellow glow of candlelight.

Woven fringe coasters
Navy and white lacquer tray

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Five Special Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day at Home

Five Special Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day at Home

A romantic Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to mean a big night out. Here’s how to celebrate Valentine’s Day at home.

After the excitement of winter holidays and the celebration of the New Year, there’s another holiday on the horizon: Valentine’s Day. Whether you’ve got a significant other to celebrate with or just want an occasion to fête with family, roommates, or even solo, we’re always in favor of making an occasion whenever possible. And, while continued COVID lockdowns may mean romantic dinners on the town are out of the question, that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate love with Valentine’s Day at home. Here, five festive ways to celebrate the holiday from the comfort of your table (or bed!). To love!

Oval Ombre Placemat
Patent Reversible Placemat

Virtual Valentine’s Potluck

Looking to celebrate the holiday with friends not in your household? Throw together a virtual potluck: Have each friend suggest a recipe for a different part of the meal (appetizer, side dish, main, salad, dessert—and even cocktail). Then, set a decadent table, no matter if it’s for one, two, or many. We’d recommend these festive red and burgundy reversible placemats and leather napkin rings to match—plus a lush centerpiece with whatever red flora or accessories you have on hand. Next, whip up the assorted dishes, coordinating with friends by phone, text, or Zoom while you do. When you’re all ready to eat, start with a video chat toast and enjoy your “shared” meal.

Red and Burgundy Reversible Placemats
Red Zinc and Leather Napkin Rings

Surprise Date Night

Couples stuck at home don’t have to forego the holiday either. Break up the monotony of the everyday with a surprise meal for your significant other. While your significant other is showering/finishing up work/putting kids to sleep, set a striking table to channel a Michelin-starred restaurant. Might we suggest a graphic, deco-inspired look with a striped tablecloth, lacquer placemats, and coordinating lacquer coasters and napkin rings in cherry red? Order delivery from your SO’s favorite restaurant on the sly, then set it on the plates for a delicious dinner at home.

Stripes and Solids Lacquer Placemats
Lacquer Stripe Placemats

Themed Dinner

So maybe you and your SO couldn’t take a trip to your favorite romantic getaway this year—or maybe you’re missing another special activity (trips to the movies, museum tours, garden strolls). Use that to inspire a tabletop, bringing your favorite things to the home. If it’s gardens you miss, set a floral tablecloth and matching plates and placemats with an exuberant flower arrangement for a centerpiece (or, if you can’t find fresh flowers, try beaded floral napkin rings). Long for the beach? Toss some decorative starfish on the table and cook up a fresh fish feast. Itching for travel? We have some suggestions here…

Reversible Metallic Placemats
Patent Reversible Placemats

Breakfast in Bed

What’s better than being served breakfast in bed? It’s the original strategy for making dining-at-home special. Select a pretty tray, then use a cheerful setting (like these beaded splatter placemats). Add a simple bud vase and fill with whatever red flowers are available at the supermarket or bodega. Whip up your SO’s favorite breakfast and voilà!

Splatter Placemats
Lacquer Tray Red

At-Home Wine Tasting

Napa Valley may be a no-go, but that doesn’t mean aspiring oenophiles have to miss out. Plan a DIY wine tasting by ordering a variety of wines from your local supplier, then collecting tasting notes (either ask your wine seller or use an app like Vivino). Arrange a line of glasses on oblong, easy-to-clean lacquer placemats (in case of any spills!)—you can use the ombré design to determine the order of darker to lighter wine! 

Ombre Oval Placemat
Ombre Round Placemats

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How to Satiate Your Travel Itch While Stuck at Home

How to Satiate Your Travel Itch While Stuck at Home

Channel wanderlust on your table with these creative settings.

Jet-setting might be out of the question right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your travel fix from the comfort of home—specifically the comfort of your dining table. We’re big advocates for thinking outside the proper place setting when laying out the backdrop for any meal. And what better way to be creative than by channeling destinations around the world?

These five table settings draw inspiration from destinations around the globe. Next time you’re setting the table, whether for a formal dinner or quick brunch, look to these suggestions to satiate your wanderlust. No passport required.

 

Stripes and solids lacquer placemat white turquoise
Navy and white lacquer stripe placemat

The Mediterranean Coast

If it’s white sand beaches you miss, channel their color palette with pearly white placemats whose fan shape recalls dappled sand. Keep up a nautical theme with navy rope napkin rings—or infuse a pop of color with a beaded variety the color of bright coral.

Scatter seashells (or even sand, if you’re not too much of a neat freak!) to complete the look. Then, serve up a fresh, grilled fish, light some candles, and you’ll be transported seaside in no time.

Navy rope napkin ring

Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar

Yearning for a day spent wandering stalls of fabrics, ceramics, and more colorful treasures? Invoke the rich colors of the grand bazaar with these ombre placemats. Try a mix of red and blue colorways set over a tablecloth in ikat, or offset placemats in one color with coasters in another (perhaps a deep black with a touch of pearl?). For a lighter take, look to the mosaic tilework of Byzantine architecture with this geometric placemat. Start your meal with a cup of Turkish tea to set the tone.

Red ombre round placemat

Nairobi

In modern-day Kenya, the Maasai people have been crafting intricate beadwork for generations. These colorful placemats, napkin rings, and coordinating coasters channel the detailed artwork and create a dazzling tablescape. Layer them over a simple base of brown paper and your table is picture perfect. They’re so colorful you don’t even need a centerpiece (though we’ll never say no to flowers).

Maasai multi beaded placemat

Mexico City

The bright, saturated hues of Mexico City make it an aesthete’s dream. Echo this sensibility on your tabletop with fringed placemats in a bold, striped pattern, then accent with rattan coasters in a different hue. A centerpiece of oversized, colorful flowers will set a festive scene. Use an assortment of colorful plates to lay out makings for tacos al pastor. Don’t forget to serve up some fresh-made guacamole. Margaritas optional, but with this festive setup you might have trouble saying no.

Orange and white fringe placemat
Green and white fringe placemat

Holland’s Tulip Fields

If your kitchen herb garden isn’t quite cutting it, channel the world’s most famous flower fields, beloved for their stripes of rich color. Try floral napkin rings in a sunny shade or set a vase with a tulip or two (whatever the grocery store has!) on a tray in appropriate Dutch blue. Maybe next year you’ll get to see them in person; for now, study up on your Tulip varietals—there are over 3,000 species.

Floral napkin ring
Navy and white lacquer tray

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Christmas Table Setting Three Ways

Christmas Table Setting Three Ways

There’s a Christmas table setting style for everyone—no matter the size of your gathering. Here’s how to get three looks.

With Thanksgiving behind us, there’s less than a month until Christmas. That means we’re approaching our favorite part of the holiday season: Setting the table. Although this Christmas might be different than in seasons past (we’re all for virtual celebrations and intimate gatherings), there’s no reason to overlook your Christmas table setting. In fact, we’d argue now is a better time than ever to celebrate the simple things. Your Christmas table setting is a great place to start. While thoughts of Christmas decor might conjure images of red and green tartan or candy cane stripes, the truth is there’s no one way to decorate for the season. Like all decor, it’s all about what you like—meaning the best table settings are the most personal. Looking for some inspiration to get you started? We’ve laid out three different styles, and outlined the items you’ll need to get each look. Consider these your jumping-off points, whether you want to completely recreate the look, or combine elements from one (or all three!) with your own style. Remember, at Von Gern Home we believe there’s no wrong way to set the table. Happy holidays! Cancelled festivities and virtual holiday meals may be putting a damper on your creative table setting efforts. But we’d encourage you to reconsider. In fact, there may be no better time to indulge in a thoughtfully-laid table. Here’s why … 

Modern Metallic

Red and green who? There’s no kitschy decor in sight on this sophisticated table. This Christmas table setting is perfect for the elegant host who appreciates modern style with a touch of celebratory glam (tastefully done, of course). Start by setting your base with a subtly textural backdrop—either in the form of a metallic tablecloth like this or even a natural wood table. Then, set a row of pine down the middle of the table. Next step? Layer in lightness. Here, that comes in the form of metallic touches on the brass ornaments nestled in the pine and VGH shimmer placemats (Bonus: They’re reversible, so you get two tablescapes for the price of one!). For the dinnerware, keep it clean with simple whites and clear glassware. Then, add softness with a few flowers in muted tones. Don’t have time to hit the florist? Grocery store blooms work just fine. Dinner—and elegance–is served.

Natural Layers

Looking to get back to nature this Christmas? This Christmas table setting is for all those who’ve taken refuge in a house in the country this year—or are stuck home pining for one.

First, set your base with a natural motif. This can be a floral tablecloth, fabric with a leaf or flower pattern, or even wrapping paper printed with branches or flowers! Then, set the table with colorful place settings that pull out the colors in the backdrop.

We love these beaded sparkle placematswhich have just the right amount of shimmer, and coordinating napkin ringswhich dress up even the simplest linen napkin.

The final touch? The centerpiece, where the more the merrier. Set a base with pine branches (from your Christmas tree shop or foraged if you can!). Then, add in any and all colorful accents: berries (real or faux), ornaments, colorful leaves, flowers, or decorative birds.

Let the festivities begin.

Winter White

Because we know bold color isn’t for everyone, here’s our take on merry minimalism. For your base, find something textural, to add a bit of interest to the monochromatic look. A linen or woven tablecloth works, but kraft paper is another easy and budget-friendly option.

To up the elegance we love the Lacquer Shell Placemat, with Pearl Napkin Rings for additional texture. (Looking for a warmer palette? Try the Splatter Placemat in bronze, as seen here).

If you’ve got fine china, go for it, but with these glam accents, even the most basic white plates will look celebration ready. For your centerpiece, lay a base of winter branches (foraged or bought, fake or real—no judgment here!). Then, add in a handful of white flowers (remember, you can always buy an inexpensive bouquet at your grocery store!) and accent with clear glass ornaments.

Who said white was boring?

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Virtual Thanksgiving: How to Make It Special This Year

Virtual Thanksgiving: How to Make It Special This Year

Like the rest of 2020, Thanksgiving might look a little different this year.

 
Many of us may choose to forego cross-country travel and large family gatherings in favor of pod celebrations or virtual Thanksgiving get-togethers. But there’s never been a more appropriate time to reflect on gratitude and thankfulness.

And just because you’re swapping family gatherings for Zoom screens doesn’t mean the holiday has to be any less special—in fact, just the opposite. Here’s how to make your virtual Thanksgiving the best one yet. Who knows, you just might find yourself continuing these new traditions year after year.

Set the Table Together

We believe that every good party starts with a thoughtfully-set table. So why not make that a (virtual) activity on its own? Share ideas with loved ones on Pinterest, then Zoom or FaceTime while laying out table settings—whether it’s one or ten. There’s never been a better occasion to go all out.

Start with the linens, then layer in statement placemats and add extra pops with napkin rings, coasters, or colorful glassware before getting creative with a centerpiece (some ideas on that next…).

Make It Personal

If your loved ones can’t be sitting at your table during virtual Thanksgiving, try topping it with things that remind you of them. It doesn’t just have to be family china, either. Set an aunt’s favorite flower as your centerpiece; incorporate mementos like small framed photos or heirlooms across the table to bring thoughts of family and friends to dinner.

Think outside the box: seashells, jewelry boxes, or decorative objects can all become table decor when paired with chic tabletop accessories. Try sterling silver framed photos beside these moonlight placemats and sparkle napkin rings for an elegant winter white look, or go colorful alongside eclectic accessories.

Give New Meaning to “Shared Plates”

While physically sharing might be a no-no right now, social media sharing certainly isn’t. There’s no better time than virtual Thanksgiving to show off your tablescape to the world beyond your dining room. And while we’d always argue that a solo meal is still worthy of a well-set table, if you’re dining alone, let this be another reason to get your table picture perfect

Swap Recipes

While cooking together is on hold, collaborate on dinner with a recipe swap before the holiday. Share your favorite with family and friends, and then incorporate theirs into your own spread—think of it as a new take on potluck style.

Find Gratitude

Finally, with a world in the midst of turbulent change, it’s never been a better time to stop and reflect on what’s good. If you’re with a group (physically or virtually!) have everyone share what they’re grateful for, and turn it into a list you can reflect on all year round.

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