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8 Easy Steps For a Romantic Summer Gathering

June 14, 2017

Would you like 8 tips for hosting an easy little party at home this summer? Hello everyone! This is Anke, I’m on decor8 once monthly with my entertaining column and today I have a very romantic tabletop story for you. But first, how are you? Did summer arrive where you live? Here in Germany it has, and the blooming flowers overwhelm as does the lush green everywhere. I also love the long, light evenings — they are definitely more than welcome. Today I have a romantic, floral tabletop story to inspire you for a summer gathering at your home indoors or out on the terrace. Let’s follow nature as a good example and not hold back on color and light! This is more or less the motto for all of my columns, but this time each year I sorta flip out even more with pastels such as pink and peach when decorating. And I know you are out there, pastel-lovers!

8 Easy Steps For a Romantic Summer Gathering

1// CHOOSE YOUR FLOWER.  The peony is probably my favorite flower. What is yours? I can’t pass by them when I spot the splendid bunches at the flower shops and the weekly markets in town. For this story, I’ve let them team up with sumptuous field-grown roses. Together peonies and roses are masterpieces made by nature, don’t you think?  Select your flowers or greenery for the party and let them guide your theme. This can be your first choice of inspiration or something you do in the middle or end of your shopping. In this story, the flowers inspired everything else. Some people begin with the food they will serve or the pattern on their dinnerware. It’s up to you.

8 Easy Steps For a Romantic Summer Gathering

2// MAKE SOMETHING. Guests love it when a little attention to detail is on display. I never tire of admiring the tender blossoms of roses, they are tissue paper look-a-likes – so poetic and delicate! This association between petal and paper gave me the idea to fold small blooms out of heart-shaped paper I bought from an online shop. Moreover I “filled” some flowers with pale pink, fringed paper centers by cutting off a narrow stripe of paper, then cut-in with very little distance on the long side and rolled it up. Easy, I promise! I scattered a few on my tabletop and others became part of the decoration on each plate as you will see later on…

8 Easy Steps For a Romantic Summer Gathering

3// ADD A GARLAND.  Nothing says party time quite like a garland (or you may call it bunting?). One more detail made of silk paper I chose was the garland you see in the background. Garlands are such a perfect adornment for a summer celebration. They make everything festive. You can buy them pre-made or make your own. You can also embellish pre-made garlands by adding balloons and ribbons for a little personalization.

8 Easy Steps For a Romantic Summer Gathering

4// DRESS THE TABLE.  A  simple tablecloth and napkins made of white linen were added along with very plain white tableware. I placed arrangements in simple glass canning jars and a single large glass vase to keep it light and bright. I didn’t add ribbons or anything else, I figured the roses were enough and I didn’t want the theme to get too girly. I liked the simple glass because it reflects natural light so well and visually the flowers become the focus, not the vessels.

8 Easy Steps For a Romantic Summer Gathering
5// MAKE PLACE CARDS.  Instead of traditional place cards I tied tiny golden frames onto napkins using jute cord and embellished each one with a paper blossom. I printed out the little tags on my computer using a favorite font.

8 Easy Steps For a Romantic Summer Gathering

6// HAVE A SIGNATURE PARTY DRINK.  I offered Rosé Secco poured into simple glasses filled with ice cubes, peach slices and fresh mint. Every gathering, no matter how simple, needs a signature drink – alcoholic or not. What do you like to serve? Gin tonic with slices or cucumber and mint are nice for summertime, too. “Cheers to summer!”

8 Easy Steps For a Romantic Summer Gathering

7// ADD SIMPLE PARTY DECORATION. A small party can still feel festive! If you have an extra 30 minutes, print out some words in color and frame them for your wall in the space. If you are good at hand lettering, use your favorite color marker or paint and paint some words – Happy Birthday, Welcome Summer, It’s a Boy!, or anything else that fits your theme.

8 Easy Steps For a Romantic Summer Gathering

8// PLAN YOUR PARTY MENU. What will you serve? Food is key to making a party (or breaking it!). For this little gathering, serve a roasted chicken dish with roasted veggies or maybe some pasta or a salad dish — something very summery and fresh. You can also opt for a simple spread, like a cheese and meat board with fresh bread and toppings, buffet style. Another idea is for a casual afternoon cake and coffee party only without cake and no coffee – go very light. You could plan this for after work on a Friday with the girls before a long weekend or on a Sunday afternoon. For my setting, I served one of my favorite summer desserts which is oven roasted peaches with Greek yoghurt, topped with crushed Cantuccini (Biscotti), pistachios and fresh mint. So simple and so good! Drizzled honey on top is also a good idea with some orange zests. My kids prefer vanilla ice cream, it’s your choice.

I’d like to wish all of you many beautiful, sunny, memorable and relaxed summer moments (filled with a party or two) in the upcoming weeks!

If you have some nice parties this summer and want to share them with decor8 readers, post your tabletop on Instagram and use hashtags #decor8 #decorateforaparty so we can see what you’ve done. We’d love to see and if we have some nice submissions, we can feature our favorites on decor8!

I’m looking forward to returning with my late summer column after I return from our summer vacation, so expect to see me here again in early August with another tabletop idea for end of summer. – Anke.

(Photography, Styling, Text: Anke Illner. Editing: Holly Becker)






Decorating Tips, Tabletop

My Urban Kitchen + The Stelton Emma Pitcher

May 24, 2017

Hello friends! Do you want to see a room in my house that I never, ever show? MY KITCHEN. And even now, I’m just giving you a behind-the-curtains peek. Maybe I’ll show more on my Instagram soon… But for now, this is my blue, Nordic-inspired, kitchen. And the best part? I’ve filled it with things that I love like the new Emma Pitcher from Stelton along with their glasses and concave vases, all linked at the bottom of this post.

My Urban Kitchen + The Stelton Emma Pitcher

I love combining budget pieces with nicer, well-made ones to create a space that works for me and my family. Take for instance my kitchen. I have affordable cabinets from a big box store, a custom counter from a local kitchen store, inexpensive shelves and paint on the walls from a very exclusive paint brand. I think the paint was more expensive than the countertop! And the countertop was more expensive than the shelves. While it may seem my priorities are whack, I know what I want. I can get white cabinets from anywhere but I can’t always find the perfect paint color that speaks to my heart. My heart leads when I’m decorating, always.

Maybe you are the same? Even when it comes to my wallet, I don’t mind spending a little more on things that make me happy, even if it means saving up for them. That is why my next investment will be a home that I own so I can build the kitchen of my dreams. Fingers crossed. But until that day, I take pride in what I have and make my urban rental my own. One way I do this is to only purchase what I plan to use and love, but also things that I can see loving a year or two from now. I’m trying hard to be less wasteful when it comes to everything in my life, especially with material possessions. I don’t need 20 bottles of perfume and 200 vases stored in my home, do I? But I do need functional objects in my kitchen that I use each day and enjoy, and if they are not cheap, even better – because then I will keep them for longer and they won’t break and end up in the trash can.

My Urban Kitchen + The Stelton Emma Pitcher

This is why I love Danish design and always go back to it, even after periods when I get a little tired of seeing it, I return again and again. It seems the Danes have a keen eye for detail, beauty, all things natural, craftsmanship, simplicity, and functional.

If you’ve not heard of Copenhagen-based brand Stelton, then you have to check out their website and see for yourself how right the Danish do it. I have many Stelton products in my kitchen and enjoy them year after year. I given Stelton as gifts to friends for special occasions, my friend who recently bought her first home was gifted a copper Stelton copper EM77, for instance. I know she will love it for many years and use it. I know it won’t break in a month or even a year from now.

If you notice in this post, you will see my current favorite product from them – the Stelton Emma Pitcher. It was designed by Sebastian Holmbäck and Ulrik Nordentoft, who met while attending the Danish Design School. A decade after school, they founded their own design studio, HolmbäckNordentoft, and collaborated with Stelton to create products like the Emma Pitcher, available in gray and blue. The Emma Pitcher has a 50s Danish vibe but incorporates modern materials like stainless steel and a coated beechwood handle. I love how these designers have made this classic design fresh and new.

When I use the Pitcher at home, I like to place the optional top on it (made for refrigerator-use) and store herb-infused or fruit-infused water. My goal is to drink one pitcher per day now that I have Emma in my life. Today, I have mint in my water with some fresh ginger and lemon. Tomorrow, I may opt for raspberries and mint. This Pitcher if perfect for me to meet my goal to drink more water each day.

My Urban Kitchen + The Stelton Emma Pitcher

My Urban Kitchen + The Stelton Emma Pitcher

You can see in my kitchen, complete with my generic inexpensive cabinets, what happens when you mix in well-crafted and beautiful things to your interiors like Stelton products, the overall look goes from budget to personal and even a bit classy. Plus, these iconic brands make an impression on you and your guests each time you use them. They just feel better. People notice them when they visit, and you can tell them a little about them. In some ways, it’s the difference between owning a fancy car and very inexpensive, no-frills car – the fancy car gives you a lot more to talk about – not brag, just to discuss. I like that about owning nice things.

My Urban Kitchen + The Stelton Emma Pitcher

It’s not about showing off, because my friends know me better than that anyway… But it is about showing that you care about having a few good pieces because they make you happy to just own them and share them with guests, too. I also like having some things that not everyone else has. If it sounds pretentious, well fair enough. But being pretentious is to pretend you have something better than you really do. But if you DO have good things and you’re not pretending, then you are not pretentious are you? You just like what you like and quality, long-lasting pieces come with a price. They don’t have to be expensive, but they also won’t be from the dollar store. The older I get, the more I require good products in my life. I don’t want to be surrounded by things that break easily or end up in the trash in six months. Quality over quantity wins.

My Urban Kitchen + The Stelton Emma Pitcher

 Shown above from Stelton:

On my wishlist from Stelton:

More glasses because 4 isn’t enough, a press coffee maker and the coffee grinder – would love to start making coffee at home like this vs. using the Nepresso.

For a limited time, you can WIN the #EmmaPitcher by signing up for the Stelton newsletter here (wait for the pop-up in the lower right).

I hope you have enjoyed seeing a view of my kitchen and these products that I love so much.

Psst: Need some Kitchen inspiration? Here you go: IKEA Kitchen Hack, 8 Design Tips For a Modern Country Kitchen, A Kitchen I Designed At IMM Cologne.

(Note: This post has been sponsored by Stelton, a friend of mine for several years who is very supportive of decor8 and the work that I do. It’s through occasional sponsors like Stelton that I can keep working full-time in a creative profession that I love, support my family, and keep decor8 ad-free. All opinions expressed in this post are my own. I only review what I own, use and love.)






Tabletop

Easter Party Decoration Ideas

April 13, 2017

Hello decor8 readers! I am amazed by all of the inspiration for Easter in the online community right now, aren’t you? Bloggers and IG’ers alike seem to be more than ready for the holidays. I decided to follow along! By the way, this is Anke with my monthly Tabletop column for decor8 and this month, I’m going for a very natural table decoration for a peaceful Easter. I hope that you will like it.

Easter Party Decoration Ideas

I’m a big fan of colorful tabletop themes, especially in spring. However, I also like decoration that is reduced to a very natural palette in black, white, brown and green. Ever since I painted the popular floral motif of Royal Copenhagen porcelain manufacture on blown out white eggs (with an Edding pen) two years ago, I always take them out shortly before Easter weekend. This year they teamed up with beautiful oval paper ornaments from Bungalow which can be found at wunderschoen-gemacht-Shop.

Easter Party Decoration Ideas

Some Royal Copenhagen Black Fluted Mega tableware turned into small tealight holders made the perfect match. A recurrent pattern always has an harmonic effect, don’t you think?

Easter Party Decoration Ideas

For the name tags I printed the initials of my guests on thin cardboard and cropped it in egg-shape. Afterwards I just tied it to the cake forks with some rustic twine.

Easter Party Decoration Ideas

The napkins are checked cotton kitchen towels, I simply cut in two parts and lined the open sides.

Easter Party Decoration Ideas

Where I live, it’s easy to buy white, pink and peach-colored blossoming twigs at the florists and weekly market for a month or so. I used this slim window to go out and but some fresh branches as they are so typical for Easter season! On the branches, I hung the eggs I had painted and some of the ornaments from Bungalow.

Do you decorate branches for Easter in your part of the world too? It is very common here in Germany.

Easter Party Decoration Ideas

The Easter cake you see consists of three layers of coffee-sponge-cake (just add some cold, strong Espresso to your fave sponge cake recipe), a mascarpone cream with finely chopped coffee-flavoured dark chocolate and all kinds of chocolate Easter eggs.

Easter Party Decoration Ideas

So that is my tabletop for this month! I’m wishing you and your family a happy and sunny Easter holiday. Have a beautiful time until I see you again in the month of May! – Anke

(Photos + Styling – Anke Illner)






Tabletop

Broste Copenhagen Teams Up With GRØD

March 23, 2017

I’m been living in Germany now since August 2009 and I’m always interested in the lifestyle trends here – mostly interiors but also product packaging, food trends, cosmetics, fashion, beauty treatments… It’s all so fascinating to me. Lately, I’ve been wondering what the next big food trend will be. Maybe porridge? With food, it was cake pops and cupcakes… Then pulled pork and frozen yogurt… Now it’s all about the burger and food trucks. Honestly, most of the food trends are very boring to me because what happens in Germany with food today already happened a decade ago in North America – so it’s the least inspiring trend to follow. BUT I could get behind the porridge trend if it hits Germany because it’s big on Instagram for foodies and hey, it’s healthy and there are so many creative things you can do with it. With that in mind, do you know about GRØD? If not…

Broste Copenhagen Teams Up With GRØD

I’ve long been a fan of Broste Copenhagen so I’m happy to see beautiful food and ceramics combined in their latest styling though after reading their press release I realized this collection is more than what meets the eye. This is their GRØD collection. For those of you unfamiliar with GRØD, they have five restaurants in Denmark and everything for them revolves around the simple, typically Nordic, bowl of porridge. GRØD has spiced up this healthy and nutritious dish offering it in their restaurants in several tasty options on the menu.

Broste Copenhagen Teams Up With GRØD

In addition to porridge, their menu also consists of simple but refined dishes made with local ingredients which has made GRØD one of the most important and trendy restaurants in Copenhagen. Broste and GRØD have teamed up to create a small collection of earthenware that is traditional, minimalist and very Nordic.

Broste Copenhagen Teams Up With GRØD

When I see pieces like this, I just want to touch them and serve my own recipes out of them – they definitely have a sensual feeling to them and I just love the uneven edges of the bowls. Beautiful!

I’m packing now and getting ready to take the morning train to Paris. I’m excited because it will give me 6 hours to relax, read and write in my journal. Maybe I’ll do a little Instagramming too. Once in Paris, I’ll celebrate my book launch in French of Decorate For a Party from 7-9pm, so please RSVP if you would like to attend. Then on Saturday and Sunday I will roam the streets with my camera, so follow me on Instagram to see Paris through my eyes @decor8 for photos and IG Stories too.

Next week, I’ll be in Hamburg and then, the week after, in Milan for a week so you will have lots to see on my IG in the weeks to come.

Bye! xo, Holly






Tabletop

Dutch-Inspired Party Ideas with Chocolate Beet Brownies

March 22, 2017

Hello everyone, it’s Anke and I’m here today to share my once-monthly column about tabletop styling and food. I’m German, yet our annual family summer vacations in Holland for the past thirty-seven years (I’m only 40!) shaped me and my sense of style. I love the the laid-back, relaxed and joyful lifestyle of the Dutch and whenever opportunity arises to visit Amsterdam I use it! For March, I’ve created an Amsterdam-inspired tabletop idea to inspire you for spring.

Dutch-Inspired Party Ideas with Chocolate Beet Brownies

I just returned from the city of canals and bridges with my dear friend Dunja last month and though spring seemed far away at that time we still enjoyed strolling through the streets and tiny alleys for hours. The beautiful canal houses are one of the most typical symbols of the city, so I started to search the web for a DIY everyone can implement without spending much money to their tabletop to bring in a little Dutch charm.

Dutch-Inspired Party Ideas with Chocolate Beet Brownies

I ended up finding a Dutch Canal House Luminaries DIY at Kate’s Creative Space. All you have to do is to print the templates and cut out the houses/ windows. Lucky for me, cutting out the small windows a little inaccurate gave my houses an even more charming look! Haha! Happy accidents are nice, aren’t they?

Dutch-Inspired Party Ideas with Chocolate Beet Brownies

The perfectionists amongst you can also glue transparent paper behind the windows which looks wonderful when you are planning to illuminate them with candles in a jar. You can also use craft knife and self-healing mat.

Dutch-Inspired Party Ideas with Chocolate Beet Brownies

Dutch-Inspired Party Ideas with Chocolate Beet Brownies

There is no Dutch-themed table decoration without tulips, agree? In our local flower shops we are experiencing tulip high season right now and one can draw from the full range. I picked different shaped tulips in rich shades of pink and red and placed them in my vases from Lyngby Porcelæn.

Dutch-Inspired Party Ideas with Chocolate Beet Brownies

Furthermore a little treat in the form of Chocolate and Beet Brownies with a cream cheese topping and cute canal house biscuits for ornament went on the table for my afternoon coffee gathering. You will find the brownie recipe at La Tartine Gourmande.

Dutch-Inspired Party Ideas with Chocolate Beet Brownies

Dutch-Inspired Party Ideas with Chocolate Beet Brownies

The pretty chocolate bars you see on one of my images are from PLUK Amsterdam, definitely one of the most popular locations for breakfast, lunch, coffee&cake and decoration shopping in Amsterdam currently! They also run an online shop in the meantime. Their chocolate, postcards and candles are the perfect souvenirs! The bars are the perfect hostess gift to your guests.

Dutch-Inspired Party Ideas with Chocolate Beet Brownies

Have a beautiful time welcoming spring… soak up sun, light and colors! I am looking forward to see you again with a new column posting in April everyone! Tot ziens & veel liefs!

(styling, text and photography: anke illner)






Tabletop

Winter Tabletop Dinner Party Ideas

January 20, 2017

Hello everyone, this is Anke and I thought I’d drop by while Holly’s at the imm Cologne in her decor8 booth to first of all, I am wish you a happy new year and next, bring you some ideas and inspiration for a winterly tabletop. What I did this time was I put every tree-shaped candleholder (plus decoration) I own on our dining table. Admittedly there are numerous in our possession! Imagine my husband rolling his eyes at this point! Of course less will do. (Imagine him nodding!) Moreover, I wanted to catch the beautiful colors one finds outside in the forest here in Germany at this time of the year. Namely shades of grey (sky), brown (wood) and white (snow). I love this natural and fresh color palette at home. Do you?

Winter Tabletop Dinner Party Ideas

It recently snowed heavily outside when I shot these images the other day. Perfect timing for this column! But you can easily let it snow above your table, too! Either you make a garland of white paper dots by using a circle punch and sewing the dots in a row OR you just buy one at the Dille & Kamille online shop, if you are not a DIY kind of person!

Winter Tabletop Dinner Party Ideas

These garlands create a non-kitschy but cheerful and fun decoration. But all regular readers will know that I am generally into paper garlands, I cannot help it!

Winter Tabletop Dinner Party Ideas

In keeping with the chilly season I picked a wreath illustration with bare branches (bought online at Creative Market) for the name tags you see on the plates and attached jute cord loosely.

Winter Tabletop Dinner Party Ideas

As I am a huge fan of hearty soups and stew in winter I cooked one of our family’s favorites – Sweet Chestnut Soup. This one contains chestnuts (surprise!), celeriac, leek, spring onions, beef broth and cream. The topping is made of chopped and roasted chestnuts with coarse sea salt, fresh grounded pepper and maple syrup for a sweet touch. Just the way I like it! An alternative to traditional soup bowls are pretty preserving jars.

Winter Tabletop Dinner Party Ideas

That’s it for now! I will see you again in February when we should definitely have spring flowers for our column, don’t you think? Sending kind greetings – Anke

(Styling, Photography: Anke Illner)






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