Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Last week, I (somewhat self-consciously) shared snapshots of my entry way and the stories behind the pieces I decorated with. It was fun to reflect on the meaning of my design choices, and the post ended up being one of the most popular on ESS for several days. So this week, I decided to share snapshots of my little kitchen dining nook with the same kind of background notes. In a slight contrast to the rest of my apartment, the dining nook is a little undone, casually informal, and slightly bohemian-- but (I hope) still comfortable and elegant. Here are the stories behind the pieces:

1. Paper Chinese lantern
This was a gift from my grandmother, and in high school was hung in my bedroom window, looking out onto the street from the second floor. When I visited home from college, it was my dad's tradition to have the light on so I could see it from the car when pulling in the drive.

2. Vintage glass decanter
I bought this recently for $6 from the wonderful Melrose Trading Post!

3. Silk jersey "curtains" and raw silk "tablecloth"
These yards of fabric were leftover at work from gown alterations. I like the raw, undone, but inherently luxurious feel. 

4. Silk patchwork embroidered throw pillow 
When I was in high school, I saw this pillow at the now-defunct Pier One and was in love. It stood out from the other faux imports, and finally my mom bought it for me when I re-decorated my bedroom. I was thrilled, and still think it is just as exotically chic as I did at 15.

5. Re-painted table
I got this table for my first apartment when I was 19 at Cost Plus World Market (another mall store with some good pieces, don't always scoff the chains, people!). I had the idea to give it a make-over when I moved into this apartment and discovered Annie Sloan's gorgeous chalk paint. I bought the paint at the lovely Painted Attic in Malibu, where I made friends with the saleslady and listened enraptured to the story of her adventurous life (born in a small English town, moved to Hollywood in the seventies with writer husband, divorced, frolicked, had many careers, now likes to paint). Anyway, I first decided to paint the table Paris Grey, but it was too dark. Then I tried Ivory, but it was too light. I stepped away from my mess, thinking I had made a big mistake, haphazardly covering it with my showroom scrap of a tablecloth. When I had friends over later, they actually gushed over the table: "Where did you find a piece with this unique pattern?? This must have cost a fortune!!" I felt a little better about my failed DIY project and decided to just leave it be. Now it has grown on me a bit, and lends what I would like to tell myself is an artistic air to the nook.

Photos: Instagram 

6. Paper placemats
These aren't really a part of the permanent setting, but I had just served dinner on them and they stayed for the pic. They are available online from Paper Source, but I had bought them as a souvenir from Castello di Amorosa winery, back home in Napa Valley. If you are in Napa, you should really visit the Castle-- rich in history, it is constructed entirely of materials salvaged from medieval Europe and built in the exact fashion of that period's castles.

7. Silver candlesticks
These belonged to my Aunt Teri, and have matching silver napkin rings that say "Monsieur" and "Mademoiselle".

8. Vase
From Goodwill, can't beat it!

9. Caterer's chairs
These are the gold chairs you see at nearly every wedding or event, and I love their elegant simplicity. I found them in the very back of a Restoration Hardware a few years ago, and they have served limitless purposes ever since!

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