A Blue & White Nantucket Summer

A Coastal Home lends itself with ease to decorating in nautical blue & white especially in a kitchen and family room flooded with sunshine!  

Blue & white decor carried outside to our garden furniture.

The décor of every room in our Nantucket home shares some version of this color scheme to provide a cohesive and restful palette for island living.  It’s a cool combo for summering on the island, and a neutral palette that beautifully receives changes of accent colors throughout the year; my favorite are autumnal corals and oranges at Thanksgiving and bright yellow at Daffodil time in spring.


Blue & white porcelain and cobalt extends to the family room.

Creativity begins with inspiration

My inspiration for this tablescape came from a Facebook friend whom I do not know personally.  She sent me these beautiful porcelain globes accompanied by a lovely note and a print of Nantucket. It was one of the kindest gestures I’ve ever experienced. She taught me the importance of paying-it-forward, which I have done many times since.

Step out of your life for a few minutes each day and be gentle to the world around you…

As I began to “gather my nuts”, I knew these precious globes would take center stage. I placed them in the center of each bowl. To keep them from rolling around, I hot glued (my favorite tool!) hydrangea leaves to the bottom.  When guests and family members were seated, they were easily removed as a single unit.


My personal treasure and inspiration for this tablescape.

For this summer’s no-muss, no-fuss family vacation, I decided to freshen things up with the use of a tablecloth to add a huge punch of fun to the epicenter of the house, the kitchen.

I usually use placemats for the ease of upkeep for everyday use.  But, I’ve gotten into using tablecloths recently, a FUN divergence.  And boy, does it change the scape of not only the table, but the whole room.  I love it!  I left most everything else white to keep the eye restful, except for the addition of new accent pillows for the five Family Room club chairs.  Best deal on the planet! These 100% cotton (look like velvet) Pottery Barn pillows were delivered in a week to the front door. They arrived with an exquisite quality custom monogram, A C K, in bright white, the aeronautical symbol for the Nantucket airport! The deep rich color of navy astounded me. The pillows were $39 each with a 20% discount code and an additional $8 for each monogram. They were far more than I had anticipated and looked a lot more expensive than they were. And did I say they are washable? Love a summer deal!

Swapping pillows from room-to-room is allowed!

The table was designed for a light summer make-ahead dinner served after a long day at the beach.  I love straw anything; chairs, ice bucket, casserole dishes, placemats and every other thing you can see here, including the family room coffee table which you can see below.

Straw accessories spell warm weather and carefree living, and are a fun change from the winter when everything turns to more formal silver.

The casserole dishes go from oven or refrigerator to table, and look great against the blue & white. The straw ice bucket has been a keeper for years. We use it for chilled wine or Prosecco, or simply for ice.  And last, but not least, my favorite purchase of all, the beautiful blue & white porcelain wine stopper from The Nantucket Hospital Thrift Shop I found for $5!  There are always birds, boxwoods or pineapples somewhere in my tablescape designs.  I used small boxwoods which I placed in blue & white porcelain containers I found years ago at Whole Foods. They were planted with Paper Whites at holiday time. I scooped them up knowing I would have them forever.

And of course, cobalt…

What’s a blue & white tablescape without something cobalt?  I love it for its richness of color and the magical way it receives sunshine. If you look closely, you will see that I alternated stemware styles to jazz it up a bit, and used my high vases in both the kitchen and family room to draw the eye from one end to the other.



A treasured gift from a friend, a serving piece I use for crushed red pepper or grated cheese and Pottery Barn pillows custom monogrammed.


Best summer find! Blue & white porcelain wine stopper from Nantucket Cottage Hospital Thrift Shop, $5


Meet Charlotte my Havanese

A Nantucket Holiday Soiree in a 1750’s Nantucket Whaling Captain’s home

~Nantucket Island~
Photography by Brian Sager

Christmas on the magical Island of Nantucket often feels like a page out of a Norman Rockwell book coming to life. When invited by Nantucket Magazine to style the dining room for their winter issue feature, “Festive Fashion", I was thrilled, albeit a bit concerned, about how I would pull it together in such a short period of time. I was in the Pacific Northwest in Vancouver, British Columbia about to make the journey to our tiny island in the Atlantic sea; a trip that is always "iffy" at best, given wind and sea conditions.  But then again, that is the allure, isn’t it?  I arrived on Nantucket full of energy and excitement at the thought of working in this iconic historic home with the amazing crew from N Magazine, in my favorite place in the world.

“There was something poetic about journeying from sea to sea.”

Built in 1750, this classic brick Colonial originally belonged to the whaling Captain Silas Jonas. I stared for a long while at its rooms, its gorgeous stair banister and its original wide plank pine floors, trying to imagine all that had taken place within these walls almost 300 years ago. I looked to its history for design inspiration and began by researching the history of hospitality during the whaling era. There it was….pineapples!  Sea Captains arriving home on island after years out to sea, would bring pineapples back and proudly display them both inside and outside of their homes to symbolize their return.  

“Pineapples have since become the symbol of hospitality and welcome around the globe.” 

Pineapples are always somewhere in my kitchen, so I set out to purchase a few of them figuring I would plant them here and there… Much to my surprise, I found amazing baby pineapples instead, which I decided to use at each of the 8 place settings.  What better way to pay homage to history than by setting a meaningful tablescape? The island shopkeepers, always so willing to let me borrow their beautiful goods for photo shoots, were more than generous.  My tablescape began with two rectangular mirrors set down the middle of the table to reflect the chandelier and table glitter.  I went with a simple white plate on a matte silver charger, clear crystal stemware and white flatware from 28 Centre Pointe, and holiday decorations from my home. Since there are always birds and boxwoods in my tablescapes, I used them here to add a touch of whimsy to offset the serious tenor of the home and the dining room. I used gold stars on the chandelier and on the table. The boxwoods were adorned with bells and silver circus glitter twists. The three-tiered  dessert stand displayed favors of individually wrapped boxes of chocolates to be given post dinner to each of the 8 guests. After everyone was seated, the pineapples were taken away and replaced with the brilliant color of a splendid butternut squash soup which really livened up the table!  It said, "Bon Appétit! And a very happy holiday to you and yours!"

“I always like to add a touch of whimsy to my tablescapes. After all, dining with friends and family should be about fun, happiness and a sea full of laughter!”


Special thank you to 28 Centre Pointe on Nantucket 

A Celebration of Spring

Vietri *Artel * Bodrum * Sabre

I’ve stared into the window of the Lion’s Paw on the island of Nantucket for 28 years feasting my eyes on their beautiful home décor wares. So it was incredibly poignant for me to have the privilege and pleasure of designing their table for their spring opening with the finest from Italy, Paris and the Czech Republic.

My first priority was to display the exquisite merchandise in a way that would make the store and table proud. There were so many options to work with!  I was like a kid in a candy store whose belly was never, ever going to be full! The beautiful 144 inch pine table which seated 12, served as the perfect backdrop to receive the 2017 Pantone colors of yellow and green, shouting out that spring had arrived!  The theme was an elegant dinner for ten to celebrate the opening of the island and of course, the daffodils. I began with a stunning ivory colored 100%  linen tablecloth from Bodrum as the canvas on which to begin my tablescape. I used two 120 inch overlapping. Their napkin and napkin ring selection was enormous!  I brought in a green linen hemstitched napkin with a green ring and placed them on a diagonal.

I always begin by "gathering my nuts" when designing...

Handcrafted in Tuscany, these incredibly designed dishes from their Lastra collection were inspired by the wooden slab used to create the outer mold in cheese making.  There were many pieces in this collection to choose from and I used most of them in alternating place settings to merchandise the options. I also prefer a less “matchy” and more eclectic use of dishes in a table design.

The Sabre flatware from Paris gave depth and livened up the table!

  The taupe color was exquisite and rich and served as the perfect counterpoint to the neutral palette.

The luxury bohemian crystal glassware from Artel, rounded out the foundation of my tablescape. 

 This crystal glassware , handcrafted by artisans in the Czech Republic, would stand out to those who passed by, adding just the right touch of whimsy with patterns of stars and sea life.

                   The Vietri dishes were undeniably my first choice.

The base products were selected.  Now on to the design!  I needed height, so I added my own ivory colored urns and filled them with combination of faux and real daffodils, greenery and tulips.

I broke up the long ivory look with four of my faux grass placemats on which I placed four of the ten dinner plates.  Since I am a huge fan of greenery, I decided to perch the soup bowls in little nests of faux greenery in the middle of each dinner plate.  From there I added my collection of 32 year-old “bunny” soup tureens for color and another touch of whimsy.  I filled in the length of the table with moss-covered containers holding moss spheres.  For added interest, I planted tiny 3inch clay pots with mini-daffodils and tiny chalkboard name holders at each place setting to be given out as favors after the dinner. I love the idea of cellophane bags on hand to put them in a guests leave.  It’s always nice to welcome and then to bid adieu with a small token of some kind.  



  • Stoneware: Vietri
  • Flatware: Sabre
  • Crystal: Artel
  • Linens: Bodrum
  • Urns: Private collection
  • Clay pots: Michael’s
  • Faux grass placemats: Flowers on Chestnut
  • Faux greenery:  Michael’s
  • Moss covered containers: Michael’s
  • Moss spheres: Michael’s
  • Bunny tureens: Private collection

A Glittery Nantucket Christmas Stroll

~Nantucket Island~

The Nantucket Christmas Stroll began in 1973, as a brilliant idea, to keep islanders from leaving the island to do their Christmas shopping.

Main Street

In 1973, there were fewer than 6,000 full-time residents. Today, the island is home to an estimated 23,000 full-time residents.

Over the past 43 years (26 of which we have attended!), “Stroll” has grown from a tiny three-hour event with holiday delectables and libations, to the Internationally renowned event it is today, drawing thousands from around the world. Sponsored by the Nantucket Chamber of Commerce, this magical weekend is three days long with “strollers” pouring off boats and planes from far and near, dressed in some pretty funny red and green get-ups, which may or may not include old raccoon fur coats and crazy hats, ready for amazing shopping, fabulous food, awesome raw bars, good friends, martinis “shaken not stirred”, and some pretty fine wine!

We have been Stroll patrons since 1990, but I have to say, this year, was the most amazing of all the years! The fabulously chic inns, the gorgeous restaurant additions, the incredible Nantucket Culinary Center and the tremendous increase in year round locals, has contributed greatly to this spectacular happening, which has become an International allure, for sure.

The town is dressed up in all of its holiday finery resembling a time in history akin to a Norman Rockwell (esque) village. Christmas trees line both sides of the entire Main Street lit up with dazzling colored lights, carolers roam in traditional 18th century costumes, Santa arrives by boat, the stores are all open, the sales are incredible, the restaurants buzz with reservation overflows, necessitating outdoor tents with heaters, and the before and after parties take over the island, which glitters like a jewel in the winter sea.

This year, we had a dinner party on Thursday evening, as a kick-off to the weekend for arriving guests. As darkness fell, friends and family members settled in to get ready for the ultimate winter island extravaganza! 

And of course “glitter” was the theme!

A glittery pine forest set the tone for a Christmas romance

A darkness fell, everyone settled in from their travels.

Our collection 19 years of silver bells gifted to us by dear friends, Lalique cherubs, a crystal Nantucket oyster  revealing the fruits of the sea, and my favorite crystal heart, a gift from another dear friend, frequently seen on my tablescapes.

Ralph Lauren “King Charles Paisley” with William Sonoma linens and silk 3” tartan ribbons.

A love "glittery" love affair

A night to remember…

After the parties were over...

Thanksgiving 2016

~Nantucket Island~

TELL A STORY with your tablescape!  It’s creative and fun, and will be an instant conversation piece with your guests! Once you have a theme, the excitement and layering begins!  Give yourself enough time to design it.  Rushing and time restraints promote stress and zap your creative juices. This tablescape took me three hours (with plenty of time to spare!) of adding, deleting and then finally...swooning.  I never think, "oh, I've got to SET the table".  I always think, "Oh, I've got to DESIGN my table".  It's so much more fun.

THE COLOR SCHEME this year was decidedly going to take on a more neutral approach, a deviation from my bold orange design of last year. I waited for the inspiration to come to me. Sure enough, it hit me at the Rooms with a View Decorator Show House in Southport, CT.  My design began with the purchase of two gorgeous ferns in beautiful, natural rolled, birch bark containers, and two large moss balls, I hand-carried on the boat to Nantucket! I supplemented with matching birch bark candle pillars holding tea lights, I found at Flowers on Chestnut, on island. This year, unlike last year, my table linens, in simple ivory, would serve only as a backdrop, not making any statement at all. The same would be true of the china I used, which was my ivory, gold-banded LENOX, from our wedding in 1979, which I love and covet with all my heart! I used tiny kraft name tags at each place setting in small round vases I’ve had for years that house both the flowers/greens and the name tag. I love the natural feel, the color and look of anything kraft.  

These feathered placemats sent me over the edge!

Did you know that until 1918 there had been no American made china in the White House? This upset President Woodrow Wilson, who finally commissioned Lenox to create the first US made china. 

A New York City newspaper reported,“The proud day has arrived when the White House dining service [was] designed by an American artist, made at an American pottery… and decorated by American workmen.”

Since that time, six presidents have commissioned Lenox for their own signature china. 


THE GRAPES in the centerpiece contributed majorly to my design, which was clearly taking an organic turn! To incorporate natural colors, I thought fruits! Yes! Different colors of grapes! I loved the idea of them cascading down a 3-tiered cake stand, but wondered how I would keep them perfectly in place (crashing down on the votives would not be good). I got out my favorite tool of all time, a glue gun, and anchored the heavy part of the stems to the cake stand tiers. I bought a couple of bags of loose moss, which I used to gently nudge (wedge) the grapes to remain where I wanted them! And then, of course added my birds!

Grapes, as a the centerpiece

BIRDS OF A FEATHER  are always part of my holiday designs in some way shape or form. So out came my collection of birds! And then, speaking of feathers, why not use fabulous feather placemats?!  Lion's Paw of Nantucket, I love you!  While we're at it,  let’s add feathers elsewhere, too…. I used 3 inch burlap ribbon for the napkins and inserted an 18 inch single feather into each one. I used the other feathers in a grouping near the moss balls on my sideboard. This really got me excited! This was when I added the gold deer antlers in the fern plants to pick up the trim of the china.  Burlap, fruit, moss, pinecones, ferns, deer antlers, birch bark, birds and feathers!  I think I’m getting somewhere with this, and I think it's a woodland theme!

PUMPKINS always add a lovely autumnal look and feel to Thanksgiving, especially since they are used so much in cooking and baking during the season! I was happy to find little white ones on island, keeping everything in neutral tones. And so it began…. Our Thanksgiving tablescape was on its way to paying homage to the forest and the fruits of the land! Your story becomes pivotal in the design, the colors you choose, and the style you see evolving. Have fun with it! Be whimsical and creative. It sets the tone for FUN before the FUN even begins!

Our Culinary Excursion!
Our Thanksgiving morning was a bit more relaxed this year, as there was no zooming out the door for the 8am 5K race, since our daughter had just run the New York City Marathon! But we were up bright and early and had a nice cozy, breakfast before the traditional ice cold Turkey Plunge!

Corn and Cranberry Pancakes (compliments of my husband, Jim, the pancake genie!)
• Fresh fruit of raspberries, blueberries and strawberries
• Orange Juice
• Mimosas

Traditional Post-Plunge Bloody Mary Party
(my Brother-in-law and Sister-in-law’s home)
• Classic Bloody Marys
• Shrimp Cocktail
• Cheese Platters

Thanksgiving Dinner
• Corn Chowder with Squash & Bacon served in “squash bowls” (pictured)
• Turkey
• Gravy (The gravy fairy visited me this year with a perfectly smooth and tasty gravy!)
• Mashed Potatoes
• Sweet Potatoes with marshmallows (the kids are never giving this up!)
• Brussel Sprouts with bacon and maple syrup
• Oyster Cornbread Stuffing with mushrooms
• Mixed Fruit Stuffing with grapes (of course!), apples and pears
• Carrot Pudding
• Cranberry Citrus Mold (A great presentation)
• Penny's Cranberry Sauce (See recipe on Cranberry Blog in Food & Cocktails)

Corn Chowder with Squash & Bacon served in “squash bowls”

Place card holder and floral vase all in one! 

My favorite of all the birds in my collection

Wait...I'm having a Cinderella deja vu...with this bird and moss green velvet ribbon...


Thanksgiving 2015

~Nantucket Island~

Thanksgiving 2015 brought a much larger crowd to our island home! We arrived on the island to celebrate Thanksgiving with our daughter’s in-law family from Cincinnati, who had never been to Nantucket! Our journey began with a tailgate for thirty at the Yale Harvard game in Connecticut, and continued on up to Massachusetts and out to sea, in all of its fall regalia! The more the merrier for me!

My table this year was a bit more formal than usual. My design and color scheme was based on the gorgeous charcoal, silver and orange Jacquard linens I found at Williams Sonoma in Winter Park, Florida. I just drooled over them.

Antique silver bun warmer. Saint Louis crystal. Ralph Lauren china

Pillared candles perched on walnuts.

Our day begins with a 5k race road race, followed by the Turkey Plunge and followed by the annual "Bloody Mary" party at my brother-in-law and sister-in-law's home. Then we have our soup and once again, meet up for a walk on the beach with the other Lyons family.  So, our dinner is always in the early evening,  a candlelight Thanksgiving dinner after dark, with the fireplaces roaring and lots of wine.

Time to pour the wine...and get this party started!

NOTE TO SELF: RELY ON YOUR INSTINCTS! Try to fall in love with your design way in advance! I found these linens two weeks before the holiday. I was jittery about relying upon on-time, on-island delivery. So I hunted down every store I could physically go to, and was successful in finding what I needed. It was too late to cancel the order… which arrived four days after the holiday! INSTINCTS! Rely on them!  

The first order of events was to put a rush online order in for monogram cocktail napkins!  They are inexpensive and make a big statement. Having fun with the color scheme, I ordered silver raised damask paper napkins with our monogram in burnt orange foil, from my “go-to”, The Stationery Studio. Shop online at www.thestationerystudio.com.

Silver damask cocktail napkins with burnt orange foil monogram.

I decided to get out all of the Christmas silver and get polishing! It was bold, elegant and formal! Different from my usual Thanksgiving themes… My candle design this year, using the same candle holders I used last year, included bright orange pillar candles perched atop large walnuts and placed them between scattered ORANGE PUMPKINS. I brought out silver ice buckets, and vintage silver pieces that included our antique bun warmer, and placed everything around the table as I would a collection. And, of course, I used our autumnal Ralph Lauren china and our Saint Louis “Tommy” patterned crystal.


The colors of the food from our feast, popped with this palette.  Here is my Butternut Squash Soup with apples and bacon.

                                                                                       I loved it! It was a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Nantucket Thanksgiving Table 2014

~Nantucket Island~

There is nothing more beautiful than these words that so eloquently described Nantucket in the off-season.

“Paths of bramble, rose hip and sand. Skitter down a powdery cool dune and fall upon: more than 10 miles of untouched beach. Endless ocean, endless sky, fiery sun peeking over a shockingly broad horizon. Not another mammal in sight. Only piping plovers, which flirt with the Atlantic as it glides in and snaps up twirls of spray and froth.” 
Ted Weesner Special to The Washington Post

The mere thought of Nantucket in November begins to excite me every year around the time of my September birthday. Thanksgiving is the one holiday that is filled with so many of the elements that appeal to my aesthetic senses; family, friends, cozy bathrobes and slippers, hot toddies, fires in the fireplaces, candles burning, glasses of Cabernet and the coming together celebration of kindness. For me, there is no place better to celebrate this holiday than on our beautiful island of Nantucket 30 miles out to sea. where the spirit and enthusiasm of the locals and travelers light up Main Street!  I begin to dream about the idea of decorating, cooking, and entertaining and look forward to arriving on island to prepare. We have an open-door policy, as most islanders do, and welcome a knock on the door from friends and neighbors. Please stop by!

Over the years I have collected many china and dish patterns and sets of colored stemware allowing for the fun exercise of designing a mix and match, or a mis-match, or whatever suits my aesthetic whimsy of just how fabulous can I make it this year? Much of my inspiration over the years has come from the very talented Carolyn Rohem, who has always been my idol. My husband and children have gifted me with every book she has authored. I was always fascinated by the selection of dishes and stemware she has graced so many table settings with over the years. Sheer beauty! At first I assumed that it was all high-end until I began to follow her blogs and took a cue from her helpful shopping hints, realizing that it is all about the art of collecting. Take advantage of sales! It doesn’t have to be expensive to look fabulous!

My collection of stemware hails from everywhere, from the very expensive to the very, very inexpensive! There is the challenge of storing it all! I have purchased from everywhere I could find a deal; flea markets and estate sales, where I’ve found some exciting colored glass, to the very inexpensive, but fun, post-holiday sales at Pottery Barn, where I bought my ginormous collection of red, to maybe favorite and fun, frosted polka dot champagne flutes that I bought at a close-out sale at Pier 1 for a $1.99 each! (I’ve moved them everywhere with me and not a one has ever broken!). My most precious, however, is our, Saint Louis crystal, which we bought in green, my favorite color, and which we've had since 1985.  At first I only brought them out on very special occasions or for small gatherings.  I quickly realized that every day is a special occasion, and thus use them frequently, often pairing them with super-casual elements too.

For Thanksgiving Day, I like to formulate a more elegantly casual table design, different from my Christmas Eve table when I pull out all the silver, pinecones, greenery and satin ribbon I could find! For Thanksgiving 2014, I channeled nature. I used natural elements, feeling an animal and bird vibe! I liked the idea of using rustic branches from our yard, my collection of bird ornaments, natural live berry branches, lots of variegated feathers and some of the pieces from my leopard print Ralph Lauren china. As the kick-off to the holiday season on Nantucket begins the day after Thanksgiving, I always like to incorporate a hint of Christmas on Thanksgiving Day. This year I used lots of live greenery, real cranberries in the bottom of candle globes and red glassware.

For linens, I decided upon no linens other than my leopard print napkins which I used with the wonderful rabbit and hare silver, hand-painted napkin rings given to me by nieces Monica and Amy Lyons. The warm chestnut color of our farm trestle table contributed to the warm color palette.  To enhance the casual feeling of natural elements, I used rattan placemats to receive my natural rattan chargers. The dinnerware I use most frequently for Thanksgiving Day dinner is my vintage set of Ralph Lauren hounds tooth china (purchased in 1984) in black and white with a traditional fox chase hunt scene in the center.

The red jacket of the huntsman and burnished orange and brown of the horse and dogs creates an autumnal scene that combines beautifully with the black and white hounds tooth to receive almost any and all accessories and stemware on any table. I mixed and matched combining rattan charger, hounds tooth dinner plate and a leopard soup bowl. The accessory of red stemware brought holiday color as well as height, and picked up the red jacket of the huntsman. I like height on most of my tables to give drama, but transparent enough so as to not to block anyone’s view. I used high clear candle vases in varying heights with cranberries on the bottom to give a boost of holiday color to the three-inch pillar candles from Pottery Barn I often use. I topped each of them with birds from my collection. For the center of the table, I opted out of flowers and instead ran natural vegetables down the center of the table using different squashes, tiny white pumpkins and pomegranates which gave a natural horn-of-plenty look without the horn. To add to my “animal/bird” theme, I interspersed feathers of varying sizes and colors in and around the vegetable display. We celebrate Thanksgiving dinner after dark and so candlelight for me is the ultimate accessory! Tiny votives topped with frosted glass shades at each place setting created a cozy and warm feel and cast the perfect glow on this wonderful night on our magical island, where we held hands and went around the table giving thanks for all that we have been blessed with.

Star Light, Star Bright

~Nantucket Island~
The first star I see tonight… is the starfish that will sit at each guest’s plate and set the theme for this tablescape in white!

The white Matelasse' table cloth provides a floating oasis for these works of art. 

Celebrating the sea and all the joy it brings in the form of sea life, is a bit of a ritual for me when entertaining on Nantucket.  Let’s face it; it’s hard not to be influenced by the wonderment and romance of Moby Dick's home, when you’re on an island 14 miles long and 3.5 miles wide, 30 miles out to sea. 

My collection of starfish, corals and shells of all kinds, continues to grow with my love for the island and my respect for the sea. I scour the magnificent beaches and covet my finds.  I’m also wooed by the selection of fabulous starfish, shells and coral sold at places like the HUB, where you can find some pretty exotic species, while picking up the New York Times and a cup of java!

I often opt for greenery versus florals, to allow the place setting to be the main attraction.  It may also be because I usually have a very tall vase of flowers on my sideboard reflected in front of the tall mirror, and usually think that is enough for the room. I created variations on the same theme, using three different types of greenery, to show you options and how you can play around with a setting, tweaking it to your liking!  

I thought the boxwood was a bit heavy for the delicacy of this place setting and ultimately went with the light, airiness of the long blades of ornamental grass I cut from my garden.  I also loved the light fern with it, but since I already used the fern in my last blog, ornamental grass it was for this place setting!  And this is why I like to "gather my nuts" first and mull it over for a day or two!  There is no one way to do something. The right way is the way that is right for you! Experiment! Be creative! And most importantly, have fun!  NOTE: Leave yourself plenty of time so there is no stress! You will find that your creative juices will flow much more feely!

Tess Anderson, of Anderson’s of Nantucket, one of my favorite home decor boutiques, and a regular stop for me for over 27 years, was so generous in allowing me borrow some of their beautiful dishes and accessories for this photo shoot.  The first thing that caught my eye was the placemat! I always start with one thing and then build around it.  For me, it was the glamour of this placemat in neutral tones (my favorite) studded with beads and tiny shells.  It’s hard not to start with Kim Seybert accessories when they are staring at you!  They just jump off the display, wherever they are, and into your lap! I then chose this beautiful white napkin with a coral embroidered in gold threads, which I was super excited to find, as it stood up beautifully to the drama and weight of the placemat. The lucite napkin ring with a gorgeous shiny shell attached to it, pulled it all together, keeping all the colors in the same tones.  And then I was on to the dishes…

I am especially attracted to the influence the sea has had on designers, whose coastal vibes & creations radiate through homes and over tabletops! One of my favorites is Kim Seybert, whose designs are inspired by elements from the sea. Her elegant execution makes it possible for us to enjoy the riches and opulence of her creations on our very own tabletops.... 

The blades of ornamental grass remind me of the miles of swaying grass over the dunes.

Oh my, the dishes! I wanted a clean and simple dish, since the accessories were so fancy!  I chose this gorgeous, and I mean gorgeous,  Jasper Conran by Wedgewood  dinnerware in a pattern called Baroque.  It is a stunningly modern rendition of the arches from the Baroque period, clean and crisp.  I used this creamy flatware from the Lion’s Paw to enhance the tones and let “neutral” continuing doing its wonderful thing. 

Check out the details in the placemat and napkin!  And how about these dishes?! 


On a naked table.  You can see how it  sets a completely different tone. 

Part of my collection of etched glass which Anderson's is so well known for.


A large bowl etched with the shape of Nantucket island, a gift from our children, from Anderson's of Nantucket

I wanted to show you an example using the delicate ferns I just love, from Flowers on Chestnut. My preference for this place setting is the ornamental grass.


Visit my blog about Anderson’s of Nantucket at www.lyonslifestyle.com/florida-nantucket/ to learn more about this popular home décor boutique on Main Street! Better yet, visit their website at www.andersonsnantucket.com (508.228.41.87) You won’t believe their Christmas selection of ornaments and gifts.

Anderson’s of Nantucket
29 Main Street
Nantucket, MA 02554


  • Dishes: Anderson’s of Nantucket
  • Placemat: Anderson’s of Nantucket
  • Napkin Ring: Anderson’s of Nantucket
  • Flatware: The Lion’s Paw
  • Glass Etched Bowl: Personal Collection
  • Glass Etched Glass: Personal Collection
  • Coral: The Hub
  • Starfish: The Hub
  • Crystal Stemware: Saint-Louis “Tommy” Personal Collection
  • Vase: Anthalusa infuser bottle
  • Fern: Flowers on Chestnut
  • Ornamental Grass: My garden
  • Boxwood: Private Collection

49 Shades of Grey

~Nantucket Island~

Tablescaping in elegant shades of grey on the Grey Lady

I happened upon this beautiful collection of Turkish dishes while shopping at THE LION’S PAW on Nantucket. I was immediately attracted to them for their, refreshingly new coastal tones, simplicity of style and versatility of use. My vivid imagination could see them used in a variety of ways; a Bahamian style setting with burlap table covers, giant palm fronds and bamboo chairs, or a circus themed birthday party of vibrant printed cloths in pinks, oranges and turquoises, Birds of Paradise and Phillip Stark Ghost chairs, or a Truman Capote(esque) Ball in black, white and silver with black table linens, hundreds of black, white and metallic silver balloons, red roses at each place setting and silver ballroom chairs. The possibilities are endless…

There is never one way to do anything. These delicate ferns are gorgeous and add such beauty.

I tend to be a more formal, and thus decided to surround these beautiful dishes with silver and crystal for a formal dinner party. A step away from the predictable nautical colors, these beautiful shades of grey speak elegance to me, and conjure up a feeling of richness, like a grey Armani suit or graphite Mercedes Benz, perfect for entertaining on Nantucket Island, our “Grey Lady”. As I began to gather my nuts, which, as you know, is the way I begin a “scape”, I closed my eyes and created a vision board of textures and interest: white Irish linen, mercury glass, fine cut crystal, silver, antiques, luminaries, greenery, coral and a touch of whimsy! And of course, there had to be a “grey” culinary selection, which I knew would be none other than my favorite, a plate of oysters in shades of grey!  Grey became the theme of the design and the menu! I always try to remember our five senses when preparing for guests: sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste....

Shades of grey in our friends from the sea, accented with an exotic green

Oyster shells at each place set the theme for both the design and the menu

I first chose the nautical clock, a gift from our children, inscribed with: “THERES NO TIME BETTER THAN NOW”. 

It inspires me to think BIG, to GO FOR IT, to DRESS UP instead of dressing down, to be aware that LIFE IS NO DRESS REHEARSAL and to remember that EVERYDAY IS SPECIAL. I hoped it would inspire our dinner guests, too.

My signature style always includes a boxwood, which I perched on top of a silver ice bucket, and weaved with a gorgeous “Nantucket” embroidered ribbon from Nantucket Sewing and Design, where I’ve been buying ribbon for 27 years! Adding antique elements creates table conversation, and for this, I used my 17th century bun warmer and 18th century silver and crystal inkwell. The more you add to your setting, the more interest it has, and the more inspiring it will be! The ivory and silver flatware, also from THE LIONS’S PAW, worked beautifully with these neutrals, and are really perfect for any place setting. I think they are a must have!  I pulled from my collection of coral and used a piece at each place setting with a small kraft name tag tied to it as the place card. 

My signature piece,  a Boxwood, weaved with embroidered ribbon

I like to have place cards for guests. It eliminates the awkwardness of selecting a chair when they come to the table. It purposely allows for the opportunity to mix up your guests, and it says, “hey, I’ve thought about this and this is what I think is going to make for a fun and convivial evening!”

Lighting on dimmers and lots of candles is always a "must" as it sets the mood!  My new favorite is this large grey mercury glass votive candle with an octopus cut out. You can’t imagine how fabulous they looked all lit up at night. Another conversation piece! Clever!

Candlelight by octopus! Quite fabulous in the dark.

And last, but certainly not least, is the tiny vase I filled with mini-calla lilies at each place setting, another signature style for me. There is something special about each guest having their own little floral piece. 

I used a tiny vase from my collection of home infusers! Home infusers last anywhere from 4-6 months and usually come in lovely etched bottles which I save and use for small scale vases at place settings! 

***My husband once said to me, “sitting down to one of your tables is like sitting in your own little comfy, beautiful house for the evening”… And that, is always my goal when you come to dine with us! 

Visit my blog on THE LION’S PAW at www.lyonslifestyle.com/florida-nantucket/ to learn more about this iconic Nantucket home décor store I’ve been shopping at for 27 years. And better yet, visit THEM! They SHIP!   www.thelionspawnantucket.net  (508.228.3837)

The Lion's Paw
30 Main Street
Nantucket, MA 02554


  • Dishes: The Lion’s Paw Nantucket
  • Octopus Mercury Votive Candle: The Lions’ Paw 
  • Silver Charger:  Personal collection
  • Marine Clock:  Personal collection  (Gift from my children)  Freedman’s of Nantucket
  • Octopus Candle:  The Lion’s Paw Nantucket
  • Flatware:  The Lion’s Paw Nantucket
  • Rabbit Napkin holders:  Personal collection (Gift from my nieces)
  • Silver Ice Bucket:  Personal collection
  • Coral: The Hub
  • Name Tag: The Lions’s Pawn
  • Antique Bun Warmer:  Personal collection
  • Antique Ink Well:  Personal collection
  • Mercury Tall Candle Holder:  Pottery Barn
  • Crystal: Saint-Louis “Tommy” Personal collection
  • Monogrammed Irish linens:  Personal collection
  • Boxwood:  Personal collection
  • “Nantucket” Embroidered Ribbon:  Nantucket Sewing and Design
  • Calla Lily Vase: Anthalusa Home Infuser Bottle (save them when done!)
  • Mini Callas: Flowers on Chestnut Nantucket
  • Greens: Flowers on Chestnut
  • Oysters: Straight Wharf Market

Nantucket Wine Festival Inspiration

When thinking about a tablescape, I begin by gathering colors, textures, elements and "things" I feel will measure up nicely to the level of the event. Here is an example of me "gathering nuts" for a dinner at our home I was planning for our island's 2016 Nantucket Wine Festival. I like to sleep on it. So I gather and then look at it for a day or so. I love green in spring and pulled from our collection of china, keeping it neutral and pairing it with my love of animal prints. The needlepoint frame would house the menu and each place setting would have a tiny, tea-light lamp with shade, providing the perfect glow for guests who had been wine tasting all day! I planned a small vase of flowers, also a place card holder, to be at each place setting. The flowers would be neutral and the table "art" would be our 30 year collection of Lalique figures. Collections add interest to a table and serve as a conversation piece! This dinner was to be more formal, so I thought the elegance of the Lalique would work beautifully.  Don't be afraid to use your "stuff"! I'm a huge fan of boxwoods and like to incorporate them into everything. And I mean everything. These plastic boxwood napkins sent me over the moon when I found them many years ago! And the baby boxwood plants find their way onto almost all of my tables. You just have to have greenery on every table, no matter what.  Chilled wine would be in straw ice buckets, because I love the juxtaposition of straw and crystal!