Author Archives: Guest Writer

A Chic Fire Escape Retreat From Refinery29

Decorating, Decorating Inspiration, Inspiration and tagged | | | 1 Reply

As part of this week’s outdoor decorating series, we’re presenting posts from some of our favorite bloggers. Today, Manhattan-based Refinery29 senior editor Diana Nguyen tells us about how she turned a tiny fire escape into a breezy outdoor space. 


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Living in a typical Manhattan-sized apartment, I have very, very limited space. But when I need to feel a bout of vitamin D or just decompress, there’s always the fire escape. I’m not going to lie — it’s pretty drab out there, what with my dead fern and the rusted metal. But with a few portable adjustments, solitary confinement can become a sanctuary — tiny space be damned. I only needed a few elements I could easily bring in and out of my home (don’t want to break any New York fire codes, after all): dim lighting, a place to put my coffee, and some very resilient plants. Using my Pottery Barn items, I was able to create something equal parts industrial, romantic, and functional.

 

A small side table may be useful indoors, but it’ll also totally elevate your outdoor space. Although you can’t leave it on the fire escape, it’s small enough to transport and great for adding height and dimension to an area, not to mention you won’t have to put your books, drinks, or whatever on the dirty floor.


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A rusty, industrial-like space like this calls for elements that complement and contrast, and these Pottery Barn lanterns blend seamlessly on to the fire escape. For contrast, I added yellow florals inside to bring a touch of color and whimsy. I also coiled metal clothes hangers inside the lantern glass to keep the flowers in place and to maintain the industrial theme. I love the juxtaposition.

Finally, if you’re out more than in, low-maintenance greens and plants are your friends. Succulents and cacti don’t need much care and can bring that welcoming detail (especially if has a pop of color) to an intimate setting, if ever you decide to share it with others (one at the most…let’s not push it).

For a chance to win a $400 gift card from Pottery Barn, head over to Refinery 29 to read more about Diana’s fire escape retreat!

Photos courtesy Raven Ishak

 

See How the Olivia Star Pendant Lights Up This Garden

Decorating, Decorating Inspiration, Inspiration and tagged | | | 8 Replies

Today, we’re featuring a post by Gardenista editor Michelle Slatella as part of our outdoor decorating series. Michelle decorated her garden with the Olivia Star Pendant.

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We are very DIY oriented at Gardenista; I hung the pendant in a tree at the edge of my bluestone patio and turned it into a votive holder using battery operated votives. (I wrapped the electrical socket securely in waterproof plastic to protect it for future use.) In the autumn, the pendant can come indoors or to a covered porch and be hardwired for electricity.

I live in Northern California, so we pretty much live in the garden year round — day and night, we’re out there. I wanted to have a warm light in the tree, both for when I have friends over and we are sitting on the patio at dusk or later drinking wine, and for when I look out the window into the garden at night. As you can see from the windows in the background of the photo with the pendant, our kitchen and family room look out into the garden and it’s lovely to see the pendant glowing there, like a low distant star, at night.

Keep reading to check out more photos from Michelle’s garden. You can also enter to win a pendant by filling out the form located just below the photos (read the official rules here). For a second chance to win, enter on Gardenista, too!

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Thank you for reading, this contest is now closed.

A Visit to Leyden Glen Sheep Farm

Decorating, Decorating Inspiration, Inspiration | | | Leave a comment

We’re happy to present this article, written and photographed by Rikki Snyder, which is running in the current issue of Folk Magazine. You can subscribe to Folk Magazine here.

 

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Tucked away in the rolling hills of western Massachusetts is a place so unique and beautiful that it seems like it was pulled straight from a fairytale. I remember the very first time I drove down the windy and desolate dirt roads leading up to the Leyden Glen Sheep Farm. Spring was in full bloom and my good friend Sarah was behind the wheel. I kept thinking to myself, where is she taking me? Talk about the middle of nowhere!
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When we finally pulled up to the farmhouse we were greeted by eager sheep dogs, so full of energy and ready to play. Sarah had told me how beautiful this place was and as soon as I got out of the car I fell in love with everything. The wooden swing tied to a tree in the front yard, tufts of wool covering the ground in certain spots, grass greener than any I’d seen before and sheep by the hundreds feeding on it with enormous, tree covered hills as their backdrop.
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Kristin Nicholas came out from her charming farmhouse to greet us and I was first introduced to the incredible woman who calls this place home. Kristin is a true and talented artist best known for her knitting and stitching patterns. But it doesn’t stop there, her tremendous talents include knitting, crochet, embroidery, dyeing, painting, decorative and interior painting and pottery. She lives in this picturesque 1751 Antique Cape Cod farmhouse with her husband Mark and their darling daughter, Julia. Together they run their Leyden Glen Sheep Farm which now consists of over 300 sheep, 20 chickens, 10 cats, 3 border collies who work the sheep, 1 Great Pyrenees Guard Dog, a Guard Donkey and a Guard Llama. Kristin explains how when you live on a real working farm, the farm becomes your life. The animals are in need of constant attention, food, water and are always being moved around from field to field. “I talk to animals more than I talk to people!” she says.

The reality of Kristin and Mark’s unique lifestyle as sheep farmers is this: long days and intense labor. The lambing begins in January and lasts through March. During this time lamb upon lamb is born and in need of constant care. March is the mud season which Kristin describes as pretty awful! “No one is happy- humans or lambs.” The grass starts to grow in April and weaning lambs starts when the pastures are dry and ready. When May rolls around different flocks of sheep are moved to different pastures and are continually moved throughout the grazing season. Sometimes the sheep are moved by truck but sometimes Kristin and Mark move them many miles by foot depending on the location and traffic on the roads. Harvesting hay soon begins in June and lasts until October when the grass stops growing. Mark cuts and bales all of the hay that their sheep eat during the winter. In November, after the harvest, the sheep are ready to be moved back to their winter quarters where they are kept in a couple barns for cover. And then…it starts all over again.

 

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Kristin and Mark sell their lamb meat all year long at local Famers Markets as well as the vegetables from Kristin’s garden in the summertime. The sheep’s wool also proves to be invaluable as Kristin uses it to make yarn. She learned how to hand spin wool at a night class during her time in college at the Oregon State University where her and Mark first met. They both grew up on the east coast, Kristin being from the suburbs of New Jersey and Mark, ironically enough, grew up on a dairy farm only 5 miles from where they now live. They bought their first 4 Romney sheep in 1980 before they were married. As Kristin’s mom said, “Some people get engaged; Mark and Kristin bought sheep!”.

Just before their daughter Julia was born, they found their current farmhouse. It was love at first sight; they gave a full price offer and it was accepted in a matter of 5 hours! Kristin started telecommuting instead of going into her job at the time, as the Creative Director of Classic Elite Yarns. “It was a chance for us to build our farm and our family,” she says. In 1998, their daughter Julia was born with a life threatening condition, hydrocephalus. Kristin became the primary caretaker and in her words she, “..decided to ditch the full time gig and go freelance.” She started writing knitting books, then stitching books and was even asked to illustrate a couple of knitting books. She used gouache, a technique of painting with opaque watercolors and soon realized that she could draw or paint anything.
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Since then, Kristin has taken her art to a new level. Her home is a blank canvas that she has transformed into a work of art with her numerous free-form wall murals that she hand paints. The mural in the dining room is dressed with chickens, birds, flowers, leaves, guinea hens and peacocks. A second one can be found in their TV room that Kristin created by cutting shapes out of FedEx boxes, layering these shapes on top of each other and hand painting each one. Her beautiful oil paintings can be found hung throughout the house as well as other handmade items such as her colorful pillows that are displayed on the window bed between the kitchen and living room.

“I think every art or craft I learn adds to the others I know,” Kristin says, “They all ‘inform’ each other. The common thread of my work has always been color. I love color! Working with color, mixing color together when I paint or dye, and then combining colors in a canvas or on a piece of fabric or in a knit wear design is such fun and joyful.” Kristin has also taken inspiration from her grandmother who was from Germany. She was always making something with her hands which fascinated Kristin and when she was 9, her grandmother taught her how to crochet. After that, she never looked back. Ten books later, Kristin is still going strong with her artwork and is constantly creating. She also writes a blog called “Getting Stitched on the Farm”, which is a way for her to communicate and connect with the outside world. It allows her readers to enter into her crazy yet captivating lifestyle that is always satisfying and never boring and shows a little slice of what it’s like living on a working sheep farm.
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It’s been two years since that first day I stumbled upon the Leyden Glen Sheep Farm and after many visits back, through each season, I have fallen in love with this place even more. The beauty of it all continues to amaze me as does Kristin’s artwork. Never have I found such inspiration with color and pattern as I do when I’m in Kristin’s home. I’ve had the pleasure of sitting down with her for lunch on those colorful chairs with her paper lanterns swaying above our heads and the view of the pastures outside the windows where subtle baas can be heard from the grazing sheep. They’ve become some of my most memorable days and I always look forward to my next trip back where I travel off the map and step into their unique world once more.

To read more stories of this, check out the current issue of Folk Magazine. You can subscribe to Folk Magazine here.

 

Add Fresh Color to Your Home With These Quick Tips For a Spring Refresh

Decorating, How-To | | | 7 Replies

We’re excited to present a guest post from Dawn Reeves from Inspired Living. Keep reading for her tips for infusing your home with spring color and freshness!

This past winter, I welcomed in the cold and crisp weather by using winter greenery and branches inside my home. In my entryway, I built a neutral backdrop of whites and creams to showcase the beauty of nature indoors.

 

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This spring, I continue to showcase nature inside my home; however, this time around, I wanted a more vivid and colorful display that echoes the vibrant and colorful spring blossoms that would soon appear outside.

 

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Here are a few of my tips for styling your entryway with splashes of color for spring:
Create your foundation by choosing two to three elements for your entry. Here, I used graphic black and white elements, with touches of gold, as a strong contrast to the bold colors.

Add something living. The easiest and most obvious way to add color is through beautiful blooms – any clippings will do. I chose potted orchids for my entryway because they are low maintenance, long lasting, and have a sculptural, colorful beauty. I brought these orchids home mid-February, and 6 weeks later my blooms are still going strong.

 

Front Entry Spring

Use colorful pillows and throws. Add a chair to your entryway and throw a colorful pillow on top. In this display, I used a pillowcase inside my black and white frame. Also, consider your entry from all views. Here, I added a soft blue throw on my couch to compliment the blues of the ocean painting I placed on the sideboard.

 

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Layer your colors and add a touch of surprise. While I used reds and purples as the colorful element on the majority of my entry display, I added the blue ocean scene as an unexpected touch of color.

 

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Thanks for the tips, Dawn! Make sure to check out Inspired Living for more of Dawn’s decorating adventures.

Six Days of Spring: Bejeweled Place Card Holders

Decorating, DIY | | | 9 Replies

This week, we’re participating in a week’s worth of spring projects and DIYs with five other bloggers (make sure to click through on today’s projects at the bottom of this post).

For today’s project, we’re revisiting the bejeweled place card holders that were  featured in our garden party tablescape.

 

 

They’re perfect for weddings, dinner parties or other gatherings where a place card is needed. Karen Ondracek of General Taxonomy has all of the details for her DIY.

 

Supplies 

 

  • Small wooden blocks (toy blocks worked well – I chose them in the spirit of reuse. You can buy small wooden blocks at craft and hobby shops.)
  • Vintage clip on earrings and/or vintage pins. Larger brooches & pins can be used to make holders for menus, welcome signs, etc.
  • Spray paint (Needed only if you wish to alter the color of your blocks or jewelery. You may wish to use a spray primer as well.)
  • Masking tape (Needed only if you are spray painting and wish to retain some original colors.)
  • Hot glue gun & hot glue sticks

 

Step 1:

Spray paint the wooden blocks to coordinate with your color scheme. I chose white. If you have wooden blocks that look great as found, skip this step.

 

Step 2:

 

Spray paint vintage jewelry to coordinate with your color scheme. Mask off any jewels or other areas that you want to retain their original appearance. I spray painted gold tone, brass and pearl elements of my jewelry silver. If all your jewelry looks great as found, skip this step.

 

Tip: Try a few drops of eucalyptus oil mixed with a bit of hand lotion to remove any spray paint you might accidentally get on your skin, then wash with soap and water. Unless, of course, you are allergic or sensitive to eucalyptus.

 

Step 3:


Use hot glue to attach earrings and pins to woodblocks as shown.

 

For pins you want to create a narrow slot between the pin back and the block for the card. For large pins, you may need more than one block.

 

With the variety of jewelry styles & spray paints out there, these DIY place cards could work in many a tablescape. Have fun!

Thanks Karen! Make sure to check out her shop General Taxonomy for more arty and vintage goodness!

Check out the rest of the DIYs featured today from the other participating bloggers!

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How-To: Build Kyle Schuneman’s Pipe Shelving

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Interior Designer Kyle Schuneman‘s apartment was recently featured in Sunset magazine, and we fell in love with his cool style — as well as his ingenious wall shelving, seen here. Kyle DIYed the shelf out of plumbing parts, and ever since the article ran, he’s been getting questions about how exactly he built it. We reached out to Kyle to find out the steps for this DIY. Check out Kyle’s directions for the DIY below.

 

 

Supplies

  • 24 – 3/4″ Galvanized Pipe Flange
  • 12 – 3/4″ (18″ long) Galvanized Pipes
  • 5 –  2″x10″ (8′ long) wood lumber
  • 96 – 1″ Screws
  • 6 – 2″ Casters
  • Phillips Head Screw Driver
  • Wood Stain
  • Rag
  • Tape Measure
  • (Optional: 3 1″ L Brackets and Screws)

 


Step 1:

In a well ventilated area stain all sides of your 5 long wood boards and let them dry. Wipe on the stain along the grain and with a dry rag wipe off the excess. The more layers of stain you put on the darker it will get.

 

Step 2:

Lay one board on the ground and measure halfway from the end of your board (48″) and make a mark. Place and screw your first flange there. Measure 2″ from either side of the ends of your board and place and screw on 2 other flanges. Do this same treatment to one more board. These will be your top and bottom shelves.

 

Step 3:

Do the same to the remaining 3 boards. However, with these you need to attach flanges to both sides of each board.

 

Step 4:

Once your flanges are all attached is time to screw in your pipes. Connect the boards by screwing in the pipes.

 

Step 5:

Attach the 6 2″ casters (2 under each flange) to the bottom of the bottom shelf


Step 6:

If you’d like to attach your bookcase to your wall for extra support, you can screw in 3 L-Brackets (centered and on the sides) to the top of the top shelf.

All photos by Joe Schmelzer

How-To: Make Place Card Holders For Your Next Dinner Party

Decorating, DIY, Parties and tagged , , | | | 2 Replies

Did you fall in love with the place card holders featured in our garden party tablescape? You’re not alone. We’ve already received several requests from readers for directions on how to create them.

 

 

They’re perfect for weddings, dinner parties or other gatherings where a place card is needed. Karen Ondracek of General Taxonomy has all of the details for her DIY.

 

Supplies 

 

  • Small wooden blocks (toy blocks worked well – I chose them in the spirit of reuse. You can buy small wooden blocks at craft and hobby shops.)
  • Vintage clip on earrings and/or vintage pins. Larger brooches & pins can be used to make holders for menus, welcome signs, etc.
  • Spray paint (Needed only if you wish to alter the color of your blocks or jewelery. You may wish to use a spray primer as well.)
  • Masking tape (Needed only if you are spray painting and wish to retain some original colors.)
  • Hot glue gun & hot glue sticks

 

Step 1:

Spray paint the wooden blocks to coordinate with your color scheme. I chose white. If you have wooden blocks that look great as found, skip this step.

 

Step 2:

 

Spray paint vintage jewelry to coordinate with your color scheme. Mask off any jewels or other areas that you want to retain their original appearance. I spray painted gold tone, brass and pearl elements of my jewelry silver. If all your jewelry looks great as found, skip this step.

 

Tip: Try a few drops of eucalyptus oil mixed with a bit of hand lotion to remove any spray paint you might accidentally get on your skin, then wash with soap and water. Unless, of course, you are allergic or sensitive to eucalyptus.

 

Step 3:


Use hot glue to attach earrings and pins to woodblocks as shown.

 

For pins you want to create a narrow slot between the pin back and the block for the card. For large pins, you may need more than one block.

 

With the variety of jewelry styles & spray paints out there, these DIY place cards could work in many a tablescape. Have fun!

Thanks Karen! Make sure to check out her shop General Taxonomy for more arty and vintage goodness!

How-To: Craft a Headboard Out of a Salvaged Door

Decorating, DIY, How-To and tagged , , , | | | 6 Replies

Last week, we featured Lindsay’s gorgeous sun porch. Today, she’s back with a tutorial for us from her own home, showing us how to make a headboard out of a salvaged door.

The technique we used to hang the door allows it to hang freely on the wall without any screws showing through or damaging the front of the door. This technique is similar to one used frequently when hanging a heavy work of art on a wall.

Supplies

  • Old door
  • Paint and/or stain if necessary
  • Two 1 x 4 boards cut to the length of your door
  • Table saw (used to cut a 45 degree angle)
  • Level
  • Deck screws
  • Trim screws
  • Stud finder
  • Tape measure

Directions

  • Select an interesting door. I used a door that was left in the basement of my home when I purchased it. I am guessing it used to be the door that went from the sun porch into the home. I love the idea that I created a headboard for my king sized bed, essentially for free, and with an architectural piece that belonged to my home! If you don’t already have an old door, they can be found in salvage shops and flea markets around the country for a reasonable price.
  • Decide if you want to refinish or paint the door. I scrubbed mine with soap and water because it needed to be cleaned after years of being stored in the basement. After the door was completely dry, I used Minwax “Dark Walnut” colored stain to give the door a fresh coat of stain. I just followed the directions on the back of the can. I would suggest being in a well-ventilated area and wearing gloves.
  • Next, take measurements of where you want the door to be located on the wall. I wanted the mattress to cover up about an inch at the bottom edge of the door, so I measured the height of the bedframe and mattress and then spaced the door accordingly.

 

Cut one 1 X 4 length-wise on a 45 degree angle. This piece will then be anchored into the studs of the wall. Have the “short” side of the angle attached to the wall.

 

Attach the other 1 X 4 to the headboard. Place the flat side at the top of the door and the angle at the bottom. These two 45 degree angle boards will fit into each other on the wall creating a secure hold.

 

  • The other 1 x 4 is then secured to the wall as a spacer to hold the headboard plumb or level. Once the headboard is in place, a small trim screw can be used on the 1×4 to further secure it in place.

 

  • Tada! Now you have your own salvaged door headboard!

Keep up with Lindsay’s adventures with her husband, pups and home when you read her blog, The Milkweed Pods.

Creating a Beautiful Holiday Mantel: A Tutorial From Designer Stephen Saint-Onge

Decorating, Holiday, How-To and tagged , , | | | Leave a comment

Today, we’re excited to present a post from designer and dad Stephen Saint-Onge. Using a variety of Pottery Barn products as well as personal family heirlooms, he creates an effortless and beutiful holiday mantel you can accomplish quickly.

Happy Holidays everyone.  I am very excited to share this simple makeover idea with you…

As a designer and as a family man, I love this time of year.  I love how the feeling of home truly comes to life during this holiday season.  We realize, in the midst of our busy lives and the crazy world out there, that our homes are a place that can lift us up, can remind us of the good things in life again — or they can simply provide us with a foundation that allows us to do what we do everyday.  At this time of year, it’s a chance to make those home spaces better, more beautiful and more inviting for our family and friends — but also for ourselves.  We all deserve that.  My motto:  Good home design has the power to change lives.  I have seen it happen and now — more than ever — we all need that power in our lives.

I also know as a husband and father  that this time of year can be stressful and filled with many things on our to-do list, so getting our homes ready for the holidays may be one of the last things we tackle.

So with that in mind, I want to show you that you can do it all. You can make your home look beautiful and festive without taking away too much time from everything else you need to get done.

For me, it’s all about creating focal points this holiday season. You do not have to go over the top as you prep your home for guests and entertaining. Focus on areas : on the front door/entrance area, a buffet table or, in the case of what I’m sharing with you today, a mantel.  You can create simple touches in your home that can bring the holidays in by creating a mood, a visual, a warm glow in place you see everyday.

As the last week before Christmas starts playing out — don’t panic —   your home will be ready and it will be beautiful.  I’m here with Pottery Barn to help you turn an everyday space into something special : easily, creatively and right now.

I recently visited a friend’s house where I was going to tackle a mantel makeover for the holidays…

*Simple mantel.   Here is what it looked like at the start.  A great location to create a focal point.

 

*Remove the props and accessories to simplify your working stage.

 

Sometimes removing artwork or other things on the walls can help you see something in a fresh way. I wanted to create two instant looks for them, the first one being very simple.  The ther one is a bit more detailed, but still very doable.

The first look was simply done by laying out two fresh garlands across the mantel.  Anyone can do this and it looks beautiful thanks to Pottery Barn’s amazing options for the holidays….So easy – go online – find what you like and order it. Comes right to your home ready to place!  That is just what we did here.

Next, I decided to repurpose an angel they had instead of the painting.  Shopping your house for props is a great way to get a new look in your home now.  Plus, you can introduce new pieces as well, which truly drives home a stylish new look any time of year,  in any room of your home!

Then I added a simple string of white lights into the garland for a nice warm glow.

I could have easily have added some pillar candles and tapered candles along the mantel for more light… But I liked the simple look of the green garland with the white angel.

For a second look,  I removed everything and put the painting back into place. This time I used two other garlands (ones that smell amazing!) and placed them on the mantel.  These have silver ball accents that add a great sparkle to the area but also serve as an accent that I will bring in again with other props too.

*Then I added a string of white lights again for the glow. I’m all about lighting the holiday time. I always tell clients that if you cannot makeover your whole house, use lighting to your advantage.  Candles and lights on dimmers can make a home setting look beautiful easily. It can take your eye away from areas or things about a room that you do not want to accent as much. Lighting allows you to set the stage and is a great creative tool in every project I do — even in my own home!

I loved these stocking holders in silver that can be engraved for every member of the family.  I like the idea of placing photos of each family member in them.  Fun thing to bring out every year!

I found these great faux fur velvet stockings from Pottery Barn too.  I liked that I could look online and see the options easily – great way to check off the list and know that those creative tools will be coming your way quickly.  I liked the color of these stockings because they worked well with the room’s overall color scheme.  Classic style.

To complete the focal point , gather some furniture pieces for seating near the area to draw your eye in as you enter the room. Light the fire, dim the room lights, turn up the music and set the scene. Easy and doable — even in these last few days before Christmas!

I invite you to visit my Designer Dad Studio blog to see a video of me on location doing this makeover for you.

I’m all about simple ideas and things that can easily make family-focused homes better.  I’m also one that believes that change is good at any time of year — not just at holiday time. I look forward to inspiring, motivating and getting you excited about your homes again…

Happy Holidays from my family to your family!

Designer Dad Stephen Saint-Onge is a designer, photographer, artist, author of the book No Place Like Home: Tips and Techniques for Real Family-Friendly Home Design and a Contributing Home Editor for Family Circle.   Stephen is also a husband and father of two boys. 

Source: Photos courtesy Stephen Saint-Onge

How To Set Up a Festive Drinks Station For Your Holiday Party

Entertaining, Holiday, Recipes and tagged , , , , | | | 6 Replies

We’re excited to feature a post today from Carmen Taylor, who shows you how to create an easy and festive drinks station for your upcoming holiday soirees!

Setting up a drink station for a large crowd can be stylish and fun. Follow these guidelines for a seamless holiday beverage service.

Choose a signature drink that may be customized using infusions, purees and juices. An interactive beverage station is personal and exciting for guests. Use a beverage dispenser suited for larger service like the Decorator’s Drink Dispenser.

 Fill the base of the drink dispenser with seasonal decor elements.

 Mercury Glass Ball Ornaments add the perfect amount of glimmer.Prep glassware by garnishing Jewel Cut Double Old-Fashioned glasses before guests arrive. I enjoy using fresh herbs or fruit slices.

 

Rosemary Gin Sparkler

1 ½ cup of sugar

1 ½ cup of water

8 sprigs of rosemary

2 ¼ cup of gin

2 cups of club soda

½ cup of lime juice

In a small saucepan, bring the sugar, 4 of the rosemary sprigs, and water to a simmer. Remove from heat and let cool.

Strain the sugar syrup into a large pitcher. Add the gin, club soda, and lime juice and stir to combine. Chill before serving; garnish each glass with rosemary sprigs.
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Source: Photos courtesy Carmen Taylor