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Effortless Elegance

Come on, a magazine cover with heading like that? If I can be elegant with little or no effort, I’m in! Well, that is the job of a magazine editor- to persuade you to buy their magazine. And that is just what Dara Caponigro, Editor-in-Chief of Veranda did. Don’t get me wrong, the May/June issue is great, but there is a heck of a lot of effort happening on these pages. The cover photograph is beautifully styled- the hot pink geraniums tucked in a green pagoda centerpiece matching the color of the font in an otherwise colorless room is pretty great! But when you read the editorial (yes, I actually read the articles!) you learn that the 19th century house was sawn down the middle and moved about 65 miles to its present location in Georgia. Effortless? I think not. So I looked very closely at what may be the effortless take-aways, and was surprised at what I found. Since I am all about tabletops, they are mostly regarding the table with some extras thrown in for good measure!

1. Branches. You can’t open a shelter magazine without seeing them. They can provide sculpture and architectural interest to any room. Now the owner of the home on the cover, Furlow Gatewood, is part of John Rosselli’s team and helps supply the New York “design baron” with antiques scouted from every local show in the South. And as such, he uses great antique blue and white Chinese vessels for his branches, but a simple cylinder can have an equally elegant look- or try hunting for large chemistry flasks on line. These can add even a bit more interest than a plain cylinder. Flowering, or not, branches can bring life into a room and keep your trees outside looking neat and trim, as well.

2.Fruit bowls. Or should I say, giant clam shell as fruit bowl? It may take some effort to locate, especially if you’re looking for a faux shell, and they aren’t cheap, but once you have one, all it takes is a trip to the market and a bunch of bananas and grapes and there you go! Gatewood has his on a fabric draped table surrounded by old wicker chairs, but even without these flourishes, a clam shell can up the ante of “fruit bowl”. In a different editorial, the fruit bowl returns in a more sophisticated way. This time it is a large porcelain bowl, but the material of the bowl is secondary to the fact that whoever filled it left some of the stems and leaves on the fruit! That simple touch of green makes the whole thing pop! Even if the lemons or oranges didn’t come from your tree, tuck a few stems of leaves from one of your own trees (preferably some that “look” like they could be from the tree that grew the fruit) in your bowl along with your fruit. It will instantly elevate the statement.

3. And speaking of fruit… India Hicks, the daughter of legendary interior designer David Hicks, and one of Diana, Princess of Wales’ bridesmaids, in a spread about her family home in the Bahamas, places whole pineapples on porcelain plates, crowns up,  down her table. Add some candlelight, and you have a very elegant, effortless table setting!

4. A single hydrangea stem in a narrow bud vase. I talked about these, before… I love them spilling from a bowl or filling a tall vase, but they can be tricky especially in dry climates (yes, “hydra” refers to water!). But they can also look beautiful one bloom at a time. Of course, in the editorial, these come from Gatewood’s allee of hydrangeas in great terra-cotta pots that line the drive to his house. But if you don’t have access to home-grown flowers, they can easily be picked up as single stems at the grocery store. It may take a few times to get the height of the stem just right, which is a bit of effort, I know. Just try not to go higher than twice the height of the vase, or it gets a bit tippy. Oh, and leave a few leaves on or near the neck of the vase, too! A single stem in a vase looks great on a chest of drawers, side table, or bed side table.

5. More stems are more. In another editorial, on a dining table is a grouping of small cups and vases filled with a few stems of garden flowers. These are then corralled on a silver tray. Presto! A centerpiece that didn’t take great effort to pull off! Of course, you need the collection of vases or cups and if you don’t have a silver tray, a lacquered tray or box would do the trick. Again, once you have the equipment, all it takes is a trip to the market and a few bunches of flowers that you deconstruct and place in the smaller containers and then group on a tray and you’re done!

It may take a closer look, but there are tips to be had everywhere!

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