Tablescape ideas: A sunflower-themed table in Fall Colors

When I prattle on about “Faded Summer” (which is often!) I like to say that the unofficial Fifth Season is meant to serve as a bridge between “Summer Brights” and “Fall Bolds” – meaning colors of course! Well this table is a perfect example of what I mean by “Fall Bolds” – a beautiful range of reds, oranges, and golden-yellows.

Bold Fall Colors in a sunflower themed tablescape

I was going for a sunflower-theme tablescape, because the table was in honor of National Sunflower Day which is typically the first Saturday in August. I was going to do more of a muted color palette (you know – a Faded Summer version) but I found those gorgeous silk sunflower stems at the consignment store and just had to use them, so that put me squarely into “Fall Bolds” territory.

Bold Fall Colors in a sunflower themed tablescape

Everything for this table was either thrifted or from other secondhand sources, except for the flatware which I purchased a couple years ago through Amazon. It’s “Napoleon Bee” by Wallace (affiliate link – if you make a purchase, it costs you nothing additional but I earn a small commission to help support the blog!). I use this flatware pretty much any time I do a flower- or garden-themed table of any kind. It is high quality stainless.

Wallace Napoleon Bee flatware in a sunflower themed tablescape

The centerpiece of course features those beautiful faux flower stems, and a fun ceramic pitcher in a perfect golden sunflower hue. I set it on a burlap placemat and also added a woven trivet for additional texture. The salt and pepper set carries through the “chunky pottery” look of the dinnerware.

Sunflower themed tablescape in bold Fall colors

The place setting consists of thrifted bold red dinner plates and green-bordered salad plates that feature a kind of petal shape. I don’t have a full set of salad plates with any kind of sunflower design, but I love this look because I think it mimics a flower rather well even if it’s not a literal representation.

Sunflower themed tablescape in bold Fall colors

Napkins are again in bold Fall colors and have a bit of texture as well. The silver napkin rings are simply a metallic element to echo the flatware.

Sunflower themed tablescape in bold Fall colors

The glassware for this table is the vintage Central Park pattern by Anchor Hocking. There are actually two shades of green in this pattern – one is more olive-toned and is called Ivy Green. I have three of those. The other is called Fern Green, and I have one in that hue. I prefer the Ivy, but I do have to use both when setting a table for four until I manage to thrift a fourth one in Ivy.

Sunflower themed tablescape in bold Fall colors

The one salad plate I do have with an actual sunflower on it is actually made of melamine – I’ve only found the one, but I felt it deserved a spot (even if by itself!) in a sunflower-themed tablescape so I set it on top of a handmade ceramic pillar-candle stand. You can’t really see the stand, which serves as a riser, but I envision some small “finger food” being passed around on this plate. Stuffed mushroom caps, perhaps?

Sunflower themed tablescape in bold Fall colors

A couple shots from different seats around the table…

Sunflower themed tablescape in bold Fall colors
Sunflower themed tablescape in bold Fall colors

And the put-away shot where everything is gathered up to go back into the cupboards.

Sunflower themed tablescape in bold Fall colors

Here’s a Pinnable image in case you’d like to save this post for future ideas!

Pinterest Image for Sunflower Tablescape Post

I’m sharing my sunflower-themed tablescape over on Susan’s blog, Between Naps on the Porch, for Tablescape Thursday! Be sure to click through for more inspiration!

Posted in Tablescapes | 2 Comments

Five simple ways to decorate for Faded Summer

“What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps one in a
continued state of inelegance.”
– Jane Austen, 1796

I’ll be honest, “Faded Summer” is kinda kickin’ my butt this year because Mother Nature is really clinging to the “Summer” half of the equation. It’s been hot, and very dry here – we’re a four-season state, and our lawn has been crispy and brown since the middle of June. I can say with certainty, I will be ready for Fall this year when September ends.

BUT! Even if it’s oppresively hot outside, the beautiful thing is we can still enjoy the unofficial Fifth Season inside with a few quick Faded Summer decorating ideas that serve as a transition into Fall. Keeping in mind the Faded Summer color palette, the chance to use slightly heavier textures, and motifs like crows, apples, and sunflowers, here are my Top 5 favorite easy decor changes to make for Faded Summer!

Kitchen and bathroom linens – go for solid muted colors or plaids in towels if you can’t find any motif-based designs you like. If you use a valance over your kitchen or bathroom window, or a fabric shower curtain, consider an inexpensive seasonal replacement.

Dishes and tablescapes – of course! Visit thrift and discount stores to find dishes in Faded Summer colors or patterns that will coordinate with what you already have. A one-two punch on the table can be a plain white dinner plate topped with a patterned salad plate. (I recently found a set of four taupe dinner plates by JCP Home that have made a marvelous neutral backdrop for Faded Summer tables!) Thrifted glassware in the right hues can contribute to the look. I’ll stay away from amber-colored glassware until Fall, but shades of muted blue, rose, plum, or olive green are wonderful! Don’t forget placemats, napkins, and tablecloths, too – again, choose solid colors or plaids within the color palette if the options look too “Autumn” at this time.

Faded Summer tablescape ideas

Throw pillows – always a go-to for an easy, inexpensive decor refresh. You can slide pillow covers over existing pillows if you don’t wish to store a lot of seasonal pillows.

Faded Summer throw pillows

Silk, real, and drying flowers – Cut and bring in real flowers from the garden, even the ones that are showing their age. I love the color variations often found at this time of year within individual blooms. Grab a couple small bunches of grocery store roses in cream, pink, or yellow, and hang them upside down to dry! Clip those big beautiful hydrangea blooms and try your hand at drying them – I had a set of Limelight blooms that went from green to tan as they aged and lasted for two full years as a decor element.

Faded Summer flowers cut, drying, and dried

Vignettes, styled shelves, and wall racks – Try some new tabletop displays/vignettes in appropriate colors. I love antique books (without the paper covers) for this purpose and my small collection is varied enough that I can pull some examples to create a small seasonal display. I also have a collection of beautiful decorating magazines such as Victoria, Cottage Style, and English Home, and a basket that I use to display some of them. I change out the first few in the basket with the seasons so the cover photography contributes to the look! Change out your styled shelves with seasonal items, and use peg racks to display old shirts or jackets in appropriate colors and textures. I love the look of faded denim with a flower-embellished straw hat.

Antique books in Faded Summer bindings
Faded Summer styled shelf

Hope these categories give you some Faded Summer decorating inspiration, and remember that it doesn’t have to be expensive. Shop thrift and discount stores, and keep an eye out year-round for items that might help you create the perfect Faded Summer look to take you “from Summer brights to Fall bolds.”

If you’d like a free copy of the official comprehensive guide to the unofficial Fifth Season of Faded Summer, just click here and pop in your email address – I’ll send it to you!

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Happy National Thrift Shop Day!

It’s National Thrift Shop Day, an opportunity to recognize and support the contributions that thrift stores and other secondhand retail venues make to our individual lives and our local communities. I am not going to have the opportunity to actually shop today, so I thought I would celebrate with a blog post showcasing the many elements of my home that have been made possible through thrift stores.

While there is indeed a short list of things I won’t buy from thrift stores, it’s fair to say that about 95 percent of my clothing, home decor, and furnishings (and of course my larger-than-normal tablescaping stash) come from thrift stores.

Here are a few views around the house that simply would not reflect my actual personal style if most of the elements had not been thrifted:

Thrift store and secondhand living room
Living room view. The only things not thrifted/secondhand are the television and the slipcover on the sofa.
Thrift store and secondhand living room
The view upon entering the house. Not thrifted: the white stepback cabinet, hand-built by my sweetie.
Thrift store and secondhand kitchen
Eat-in kitchen view. Not thrifted: the microwave.
Thrift store and secondhand screened porch
Three-season front porch view. Everything thrifted/secondhand.

Of course, most of my tablescaping stash is thrifted too. Here are just a few tables I’ve set in the last few years comprised almost entirely of items found in thrift stores and secondhand venues.

Thrift store tablescape
Spring tablescape! Not thrifted, the white dinner plates (Home Goods) and the flatware, an Amazon splurge called Napoleon Bee by Wallace (affiliate link – I earn a small commission if you purchase through my link, but it costs you nothing extra).
Thrift store tablescape
Christmas tablescape. Not thrifted/secondhand: the green stemware (Dollar Tree) and the sparkly placemats (a gift).
Thrift store tablescape
Princess-themed tablescape. Not thrifted/secondhand: The chargers, an Amazon splurge.
Thrift store tablescape
Christmass tablescape. Everything thrifted.
Thrift store tablescape
Blue and yellow Summer tablescape. Not thrifted/secondhand: the blue stemware (Dollar Tree) and the white dinner plates (Home Goods clearance).
Thrift store tablescape
Fairytale tablescape. Not thrifted: the Allgala chargers (an Amazon splurge) and the flatware (also from Amazon). Both links are affiliate links. I earn a small commission if you purchase, but you pay nothing extra.
Thrift store tablescape
Christmas tablescape. Everything thrifted.

Now I’m not saying that any of these pictures – room arrangements, furniture choices, or even tablesettings – are to be considered perfection. I’m just offering them as examples of how I’ve been able to achieve looks that I personally love because of the existence of thrift stores.

Secondhand shopping can be downright thrilling – magical! – if you take the time to hunt for and cultivate your own personal style. And that is perfection!

Also in celebration of National Thrift Shop Day, I thought I would share a list of my personal favorite local and regional thrift shops and secondhand venues:

Goodwill of Central Iowa
Many Hands Thrift Market
Stuff, Etc. consignment store
The Brass Armadillo Antique Mall
The Picker Knows Antique Mall
Memory Lane Antiques
Antiques Iowa Antique Mall
Habitat for Humanity Re-Store
Hartmann Auctions
What Cheer, Iowa Flea Market
Sparks, Kansas Flea Market

And a few other local options that I don’t get to as often as I’d like:

Salvation Army Thrift Store
Animal Lifeline Thrift Store
The Giving Tree Thrift Store
Changing Spaces Consignment
Collectamania Antiques and Collectables
Iowa State Fairgrounds Flea Market
Hope Ministries Thrift Store
St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store
Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Thrift Store
A-Okay Antiques

Feel free to leave a comment with your local favorites!

Posted in Secondhand Lifestyle | Leave a comment

A simple Faded Summer tablescape

I think the biggest challenge in specifically creating a Faded Summer tablescape is to not forget about the word “faded.” For me, a summer tablescape could be based on a garden, a beach, a visit to Disney World, or any summer activity. And of course, it’s still summer so those themes definitely still apply.

But while it is still summer, over here it’s technically Faded Summer (for more about that, click here to pop in your email address and grab your free PDF version of the official guide to the unofficial fifth season!). To me that’s definitely garden-related because the color palette comes from the colors of fading flowers. And it’s not always simple to capture those colors in dinnerware, especially if you’re like me and rely on the whims of finding things in the thrift stores to build your tablescaping collection.

This year’s Faded Summer tablescape does a particularly good job of capturing the colors and textures of the unofficial fifth season. It still looks like summer, but a faded or more muted version of those summer colors.

Faded Summer tablescape
Faded Summer tablescape

Each place setting is grounded by a green-checked placemat in muted “botancial” green, and textured rattan chargers in deep brown.

Faded Summer tablescape
Faded Summer tablescape

I love using this antique Limoges pattern by Haviland in a Faded Summer tablescape because the pattern is pretty and gardeny but not too brightly-colored. It’s called “Trellis.” The dessert plate looks lovely over the “faded green” pottery salad plate, with the heavy-textured faded pink-check napkin underneath. The plain taupe dinnerplate makes a great backdrop not just for the rest of the plate stack but also for the food that will soon be placed upon it.

Faded Summer tablescape

Oh those lovely edges and textures!

Faded Summer tablescape

Our flatware is “Napoleon Bee” by Wallace. (<– This is an affiliate link – I earn a small commission if you click through to Amazon to order yours, but it costs you nothing extra!)

Faded Summer tablescape
Faded Summer tablescape

Our glassware/tumbler is vintage “Metropolitan” by Libbey in a perfectly muted plum tone. I adore this color for Faded Summer – it’s even echoed in the floral colors of the centerpiece.

Faded Summer tablescape

Speaking of the centerpiece, you can see I didn’t go overboard with that this year (like I might have in years past) but of course it uses silk flowers in the deepening hues of Faded Summer as well. They’re collected into a textured woven basket – almost Fall but not quite!

Faded Summer tablescape

Here are a couple more views. I placed a dessert fork in the upper left of each place setting but I didn’t get a close-up picture of it. It’s my gorgeous handed-down “Chandelier” by Oneida. It will of course be used with the Haviland Trellis dessert plate, which as a guest you would remove off to the upper left of the place setting just prior to picking up your napkin.

Faded Summer tablescape
Faded Summer tablescape

And that’s it – a simple, lovely Faded Summer tablescape that provides a visual “rest” between the tropical colors of Summer and the bold colors of Autumn. I love doing these put-away shots – they show how well everything coordinates together, just before it all goes back into the cupboards.

Faded Summer tablescape

Here’s an image to Pin if you’d like to save this year’s Faded Summer tablescape for future ideas.

I will be sharing my Faded Summer Tablescape for Tablescape Thursday over at Susan’s lovely blog, Between Naps on the Porch. Be sure to click through for more tablescaping ideas!

Posted in Faded Summer, Tablescapes | 2 Comments

Enjoying Faded Summer: appreciating the beauty of faded flowers

After reading this post you are going to end up agreeing with me on something you never knew you believed… or getting one of your own beliefs validated (as if you needed that!)…
or simply deciding I’m just a little bit weird. And truth be told, I’m okay with any of those outcomes!

It’s simply this: there is stunning beauty in faded flowers!

Not that long ago, I owned a motorcycle. I learned to ride the year I turned 40, and rode for about 15 years. I explored a lot of my beautiful home state and even a little bit outside of it.

Rebel Biker Mom
Rebel Biker Mom, contemplating crossing the line!

I learned that as a rider, you have to be acutely aware of your surroundings at all times. This means observing details you might miss or even dismiss in a car, because the consequences can be so much more severe if you aren’t paying attention.

Leading the way around gorgeous curves, but always looking for deer and distracted drivers.

In riding defensively and looking for details, I also learned to notice the beauty of a landscape. Sure, a lot of it was farm fields, but in fact they are all different: various shades of green depending on specific crops, different textures depending on the time of year, different compositions of land and buildings.

Lush green Iowa farmland
A chunk of managed prairie after a controlled burn.

In short, riding taught me to notice and appreciate the details all around me, and this soon carried over into home – and garden – life. Because of those experiences, I’m able to notice and appreciate the details found in nature to a degree I simply couldn’t – or didn’t – before. This led me fairly quickly to the realization:

Flowers are stunning in all phases!

Yes, even the wilty ones. Sometimes, especially the wilty ones. This is the picture – and the bloom – that first convinced me of the incredible beauty of fading flowers.

The sunflower itself had been dyed, I assume by the florist who had provided a series of arrangements for an event I was managing. As the flower wilted and the dye leached out into the water, the most incredible color variations began to occur in the petals.

Upon studying the flowers in my own garden, I realized: flowers don’t have to be dyed for this magic to happen – left to their own natural devices, many kinds of flowers go through a phase of fading, changing hues as they age.

I daresay, if you study fading flowers long enough, you’d be hard-pressed not to arrive at the same conclusion: flowers are stunning in all phases! Think about it:

A seed is a wonder.
A seedling is a miracle.
A young plant is a promise.
A flower bud is anticipation.
A bloom is a gift.
A fading bloom is a treasure.
A seed pod is a marvel.
And a seed is a wonder!

What I’ve come to realize is that none of those things are less beautiful than the others. Every stage is filled with beauty (and purpose, and beauty in its purpose) if we train our brains to see it.

Shades of brown? Yes please!

But how do we thus train our brains? Here are some of my favorite ways to sharpen my observation skills – and therefore, my level of appreciation for faded flowers:

Let them be! Locate a small patch of something in the garden, and just let it stand as the flowers fade and the seed pods form. (Many plants, such as echinacea, even bring architectural interest to the garden in the dead of winter – not to mention providing a home for beneficial insects – if the stalks and seed heads are left standing.) Pause to really look at the plant at various times in all its stages.

Blanket Flower going to seed.
Sunflower seed head – picked, dried, and harvested.

Take a picture! In your own garden or while taking a walk, take a picture when you notice something that catches your eye in a fading bloom. You don’t have to get particularly “artsy” about this – just use your camera or phone and try to get a nice clean shot of the bloom itself. Better yet, dead-head some of your flowers and just toss the clippings into a pile. Snap an overhead picture – you won’t believe the range of colors and textures! Some of my favorite garden photos are of dead-head piles and blooms that are well past their prime.

Dead-headed detritus – geranium, coneflower, daisy, and more. There was nothing difficult about this photo – I just pointed my phone camera down into the pile and clicked.
Zinnia seeds attached to faded petals.
Seed heads and seed pods from cornflower, cleome, and others.

Allow cut flowers to dry! Roses dry beautifully when hung upside down, as does lavender. (Bonus: potpourri and scented sachets!) If cut at the proper time, hydrangeas can be allowed to sit in a vase until the water evaporates, then the petals turn papery and all sorts of variegated colors. Many other flowers look stunning when dried as well.

Drying sunflowers and roses.
Incredible color variety in a drying hydrangea. This bloom started out as a bright pink!

What I’m trying to say in my typical round-about way (I could write 10,000 words on this topic!) is this: taking time to notice the fading blooms is one of the cornerstones of enjoying Faded Summer. And it’s so easy to take a moment now and then to just stop and appreciate a fading bloom for just what it is: a flower on its way to creating seeds and perpetuating itself.

My wish for you is that you’ll soon be the weirdo out there taking pictures of dead flowers! 🙂

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