I had such a great time doing the Pear Tree Cottage Design Seminar this weekend! Above is me with an arrangement I did for one of the demonstrations using sedum & some unknown bush cutting from my yard in a vintage milk glass urn. Here are the lovely ladies of Pear Tree Cottage:

It started off perfectly with some champagne and boy did I wish I could have a glass! (I was definitely a bit nervous before it started but everyone was so sweet & there were lots of smiling faces as I began.) One reader even came with a broken foot!!!! (see below) Thank you so much for making it!!!! 🙂

I really can’t tell you how much it meant to see so many of you who show up & it was SO GREAT to actually get to meet you in person!!! I really felt like it was an audience full of friends… (I wish you all could have been there, so I’ll try & recreate it 😉
Below on the left is Michele from My Notting Hill and I was so happy to finally meet her too!! Michele was one of the first people to take an interest in my blog & included me in her “DC Designer Series” and I was so excited when I read her post…
Ok, some of you asked me to videotape it, but I was nervous enough and also am technologically-challenged & unsure of how to get a video online (maybe future??) so I’m going to give you a serious breakdown of what I said & how it went. (I apologize to anyone there because this really is justy a play-by-play and might bore you to hear it a second time!!) I went around the store and arranged accessories on an antique vanity used as a console table, a bookshelf and finally a mantle. I started out telling a story about how my friends & family used to come to my house & every time it looked different. It was rearranged & the living room that used to be blues & greens was now beiges & golds. They’d always come in, say ‘hi’ to me and then start looking around to see what was new. They’d say things like, “You have WAY too much time on your hands,” and “How can you afford to redecorate all the time?”



And the truth was, I wasn’t really redecorating all the time… I was simply reaccessorizing. (Although I probably do have too much time on my hands! 😉 I wasn’t buying a tons of new things – of course I shopped a little- but I was rearranging my rooms, moving artwork, pillows & other accessories from room to room. The furniture was still the same, the paint was still the same, they just didn’t realize it. This is the power that accessories have to transform a space.
When accessories are done well, a room can be thoughtful, personal & beautiful, but if done poorly, it can feel cluttered, oudated or contrived. The talk I gave was all about breaking down the process of arranging accessories step-by-step so that people could go home & try to get their accessories right in their own homes.



I started out with a quick explanation of visual weight, which is how much space an object takes up, not how heavy it is or how much it actually weighs. For example, a rock and a bouncy ball of the same size & shape are totally different weights, but they visually, they weigh about the same, meaning they have the same visual weight. This comes into play when we’re trying to create balance… Obviously two identical objects placed on a table can create a balanced arrangement, but you can also create a balanced arrangement if you use two objects of equal visual weight. (This is called “informal balance” vs “formal balance.”)
Then I moved around the shop and went to a vanity that was empty & began arranging it as an entryway console table. The look IO was going for was a mix of antique & modern so I chose the antique vanity & paired it with the modern lamps… I layered it with these amazing silver antler candle holders and piled up a bunch of my own decorating magazines for some height & because I wanted to use “real” objects people have lying around their home. I tucked in a really interesting magnifying glass & letter opener (bottom left) for some a nice, low horizontal addition to the arrangament and I used a vintage drink mixer of ours with a branch from a bush outside my house for some freshness.
Finally, I loaded a pretty little tray atop the magazines with “not-so-pretty” things like my keys & cell phone & sunglasses so the audience could see how when you put everyday, functional objects with beautiful ones, the arrangement feels “real” and beautiful & the everday things look great. :

Here’s a good step-by-step breakdown…
How to Arrange Tabletops:

1. Create a focal point- (The mirror)
2. Create balance with a pair of objects – (the lamps)
3. Add a “spontaneous” item to overlap the focal point a bit to one side – (the candle holders)
4. Add layers of interest for a personal feeling, using items of varying height & sizes (magazines)
5. Include a tray or low horizontal item such as a book or plate – (the magnifying glass/ opener)
6. Finish with fresh flowers or greenery (my branch in the drink mixer)
…… And then I added a tray of “stuff” for some reality 😉


Next I arranged an empty bookshelf. (Above, Baby #2 is almost 6 months along & you can really tell from the side!!)

I explained how starting out with your favorite objects in the most prominent spaces is a good way to start. I brought in a bunch of paperbacks & showed how if you flip them around so the page sides are showing, you can really get a beatiful look & pair them with other pretty books.

I set up the books first and then filled in with larger objects. (Small objects don’t usually work very well in b ookshelves because they end up looking cluttered & knick-knacky)… I used some books on the horizontal and others vertically to add interest. I layered a print in the background for interest & filled in all the holes with pretty things. (Below is the arrangment missing some things, (bottom right) because they SOLD before I could get a picture afterwards!! haha)

And here’s another breakdown…
How to Arrange Bookshelves:
1. Decide how you want your shelves to feel: formal, perfectly placed or casual & “undesigned.”
2. Start at the most prominent spot and work your way up and down or out, keeping things balanced as you go
3. Take a digital photo and review the finished shelf, then go back and fix any trouble areas
4. Switch it up & have fun whenever the mood strikes you!!! This is what keeps our homes fresh & beautiful.

And finally, I showed how to arrange a mantle. I started out with an empty one (above)– do you recognize it? It’s ours from our house! (Dave was installing the hardwood floors & it was off the wall so we brought it in for the demonstration) I first showed how just adding a focal point (the mirror- oh the silverleaf driftwood mirror! WOW) and 2 objects for balance (the sconces) and a beautiful centerpiece, you could be finished and have a beautiful, simple arrangement (try to ignore the cords).. it would be created using “formal” balance because everything used has an identical pair except for the central items.

Then I created a layered, collected look and explained how by adding in “spontaneous” objects, you could get a more casual, relaxewd, “off” arrangement. (I used a mix of metal, wood, green & white & made sure it was carried throughout the display.) Here’s the finished mantle, below:

Here’s the breakdown again:
How to Arrange a Mantel

1. Create a focal point (mirror)
2. Create balance with objects (sconces)
3. Decide how much you want going on… if more- add layers of interest (print, wooden mushrooms, white urn)and a tray or low horizontal item (little row of white -figs- (I think??)
4. Finish with fresh flowers or greenery (the urn with flowers)

It was such a great time & I had so much fun meeting everyone!! I would love to think of a way to meet more readers, so I’ll be brainstorming. Here’s Michele & I:

And here I am with the lovely (so sweet & happy) Frances, owner of The Pear Tree Cottage:

Thank you SO much to Frances & everyone who attended. I had the best time and you all made me feel so comfortable!!!!



ps- I have some more details on ideas for accessory display so I’ll be posting them later this week.