Frugal Friday: Up-Cycle, Multi-Purpose Materials for Holiday Centerpiece

Frugal Friday: Up-Cycle, Multi-Purpose Materials for Holiday Centerpiece

We know December gets ridiculously busy

Today? One of the funnest & easiest centerpieces we’ve created to date

Top Down View of the Centerpiece on Carpet. Simple & striking. Really fun.

We put this together for a Feature on Recycled Christmas Cards but TODAY are focusing on the Main Elements that tie this together, those items you have around the house all year that can do double or triple design duty.

1. A Mirror. Lay flat on your table & use as a center tray.

Detail of items on mirror with shredded & upcycled cards. Even an over sized picture frame will do. Lay it flat in the center of the table.

2. Candle with glass hurricane

This is from Ikea. I like it because there is room between the glass and the rim of the holder to attach cards or other Decorative Holiday type things. We cover up the black & white for our purposes and when the Season is over, it transforms back to normal. We customize this silly little $10 product more than I can tell you!!

4. A basket or beanie or soft hat anywhere?

Yes, you heard me correctly. Turn an old beanie upside down, fill it with shredded paper (Colorful Christmas Cards) & plop your silverware in! It is now a Custom Caddy ;).

Yes, I will use most anything for a fab fun buffet set up. Shredded cards make a great “holder” and any beanie or soft bag turned upside down becomes a custom caddy.

Here we used another product from Ikea. These are soft storage & come in assorted sizes.

3. Any old carpet pieces or carpet squares?

I simply LOVE carpet squares

Whenever showrooms are done for the season, I ask for samples. We use them as table runners constantly. Cheap, colorful, often textural – they make great contemporary table settings.

This Hampen Rug from Ikea is about $20 & comes in a ton of colors. We have also used the small round red ones for Christmas Parties.

YOU now have a custom centerpiece my friend!


Shred strong colorful cards. Throw in metallics.

Trim carpet squares to fit the center of your table. Mine is super wide. Attach with pro quality carpet square adhesive squares

This mirror is a discount closeout from Marshalls. I bought four and line them end to end for big parties. We also use matching shell picture frames as mini servers.

I love Frugal Friday. It’s my confessional time ;).

We will consolidate our Blog’s Holiday Tip Page with more pictures on December 4th so be SURE to let us know if you have questions or comments!

“Live a custom life. There is only one you.”™

xo Ann

& Holiday Cheers,

The CC Team

Wednesday Style Points: A Seriously Yellow Accented Christmas Tree

Wednesday Style Points: A Seriously Yellow Accented Christmas Tree

Each year, the question begs

Style? Format? Type? Placement? Number? Real? Fake? Combo?

I like it all. Truly.

Austere Contemporary? Bring it on.

Over the top Traditional? Awesome.

Cabin Kitsch? Perfect.

This year, we were approached by ivillage & asked to send them some “beautiful Christmas Trees”

What to do?!

(Be sure to check out the feature HERE and let them know you like us! We’d love to do more with ivillage….:)

Today: Yellow

My inspiration came from yellow flowers in my blue kitchen sink (behind) & red cake plates…it was one of those mornings when the aha moment came!

Later: Our Contemporary Tree

My main home is a traditional combination of yellows & slate blue

I went on line and thought – lets see what’s out there that will fit into my existing color scheme.

What did I get back??

The White House Blue Room Tree!!!!!

Seriously? The only tree out there was this one? Time to get making a Practical Beautiful YELLOW Christmas Tree!

There was seriously NO Christmas Tree out there with Yellow. There was a lemon or two, a fruit theme, but nothing with the main body combining Yellow.

So got about doing what we do best. We custom made something.

I couldn’t find ANY ornaments of scale in Yellow. So I headed to the Dollar Store and found a prototype plastic snowflake for 99 cents. I bought every single one they had.

We then had them made to accept paint.

We dipped in lacquer quality paint (matte) that had been custom matched to a silk taffeta I have (see tree skirt)

We hung them out to dry – and then dipped again – and again – and again.

This was part of the set up. These two ginger jars reside in my front hall and are on top of an antique swedish kitchen bed (soon to be on Joss and Main!). We really wanted the color combos to fit with our everyday living.

This formed the color backbone of the tree.

In order to make it work – it was trial & error.

Since I hadn’t seen it  done before, there HAD to be a reason = truth is it’s HARD to make a Yellow Tree work. Frankly, black is easier. Much.

This was one of our First Drafts. As you can see, the colors in my Entry Hall are Yellow & Blue. We felt this needed more pop, so added the red. Though, for a client who wanted a Hanukkah Bush (or something along those lines) we may have stopped with this color combo.

We had several combinations, took photos – walked away – changed composition – walked away – took more photos….until finally I was pleased with the overall scale & volume.

I considered using these red Chippendale Style Chairs (also soon to be on Joss and Main) but opted for the lesser Blue Upholstered Chair (from Pottery Barn) which typically sits in a corner of any room in the house for reading a book. It floats the house & works in most rooms.

It is not for everybody.

But this year? As I CRAVE the traditional….it was for me.

It reminds me of a ball gown. And if I could wear one each day, I would.

The Final Tree as shown on ivillage & in our Entry Hall

And a few clients who happen to have Blue & Yellow Family Rooms are quite pleased that their trees this season actually work WITH their rooms. We had fun modifying some of the ornaments for clients: custom over scaled upholstered (WOW!). I think I will sell these next season……for now, they are under wraps as we photograph for our “A Couture Chateau Christmas” Book (2013)

Anyway – the point is, make it YOU. Don’t apologize for what you love.

“Live a custom life. There is only one you.”™

xo Ann

Tuesday Tidbit: My Blue & White Ginger Jar Addiction

Tuesday Tidbit: My Blue & White Ginger Jar Addiction

Tuesday Tidbits = peek inside the (sometimes) manic collector inside of this Designer Brain

Started as early as age 4? Candles, small bottles…all sorts of things…

This Tuesday? Blue & White Ginger Jars

Love these…

All types & sizes, but mostly Blue & White

I just purchased a similar one with my “birthday money”…it is so pretty!

This season, I even decided to try a new custom color combination and decorate our Entry Hall Christmas Tree around the Blue & White Jars that were already there…

Look closely. You will see several blue & white jars…these live in the entry most of the year. Couture Chateau Custom Tree featured on ivillage.

One of the reasons I like them is they mix & match beautifully.

These are from Williams Sonoma and range from $150 up. If this is the lower end…

THIS is the higher end, from Taigan. If you want to go expensive, the sky is the limit.

So for today – just a peek inside ;).

And have I ever had them custom made?! OF COURSE!!

This is a picture from Custom Made’s Website….for custom pottery. These are not ours – they belong to the mind of The Pottery Company. We have had custom pots made in Santa Barbara, California & Mexico by our own proprietary suppliers :).

Stay tuned as we showcase our Christmas Tree above in detail tomorrow and share some of the details you can mimic at home.

For now, off to pay some bills & clean the office! There is glitter everywhere from Holiday Decorations!!

“Live a custom life. There is only one you.”™

xo Ann

Stewardship Sunday: Oh, Which Holiday Stuff to Use & Which to Toss

Stewardship Sunday: Oh, Which Holiday Stuff to Use & Which to Lose

It’s that time

Thanksgiving fades & Christmas Decor slowly makes its way from the Sheds

I like this sweet flurry of activity

Unpacking Christmas at our Side Door Studio Door

A grumble from two teenage sons as they gather lights & extension cords

My heart chooses to believe they secretly like it. Smiles & laughter eventually make their way back with the boxes & the boys.

Yes, I still ask them to do it

No, I do not hire it out

(Though I can see the day coming)

Stewardship. It’s a necessary part of building a custom life. We need to equip the next gen in stewardship. Not always easy.

My Journey:

Years ago after a decade of accumulation & passing parents I had amassed the equivalent of a Village of Decor

At the time, my assistant and I thought – oh, it can’t be THAT bad

Ha! When we spread out every single item, it was awful. I felt like I needed to fast & repent.

We purged & purged, donated & trashed


Custom Paint for a Custom Tree for a Client. It fits who they are TODAY.

Each season since I have instituted a similar routine

Not everything comes up for review each year now but I am struck by how MUCH we carry in our Custom Baggage. It weighs us down.

It is ok to LET GO of an ugly family ornament & KEEP the vintage wrapping paper I like

It is ok to LET GO of a tattered heirloom & KEEP one I buy today

Here it is: Designer Permission to Purge those Decorations that don’t ADD to who YOU are TODAY

YOU are building your Custom Life. Your custom memories. Take charge and only Decorate with what you love.

It’s ok to wander between austere years & traditional abundance

I went over the top this year with a tree in our entry hall because I was craving the traditional

Last year it was twigs & minimal

I love the austere. It doesn’t work for me this year, but for one Client, it does. These custom painted tree parts belong to one of our Custom Christmas Trees featured on ivillage. The client is young, hip and delighted in the time it took to create. Many hands for many weeks. Yet simple.

& that’s ok

It took me years to realize this simple truth:

Stewardship is a PROCESS not a THING

Stewardship is bringing the Decor from the shed NOT the Decor

Stewardship is hanging the lights NOT the lights

This simple realization equipped me to let go. It was a lightbulb moment for a Designer who ekes out a living in this stuff.

I used to think it WAS the ornament. It’s not. Because if the ornament breaks….

Stewardship Sunday: Make it yours. Be fearless. Let go. Be present. Today.

“Live a custom life. There is only one you.”™

xo Ann

Saturday Stuff: Holiday Decor in Transition

Saturday Stuff: Holiday Decor in Transition

We hope you had a lovely few days

We hope Thanksgiving was what YOU needed it to be, for your family, your self – Your Custom Life

I am grateful and hopeful

As you make the transition from Thanksgiving, know our homes are just like yours & a bit of chaos reigns

Extended family & friends head home. Thanksgiving Decor is phased out.

I actually love the activity. The process of change is fun.

Pouring Champagne in my Living Room where these photos were taken. The custom Couture Chateau Chaise may be available on Joss and Main soon. We brought it up for this shoot.

Next week  = Custom Holiday Decor & Entertaining Tips

Making sure everything is just right for the camera

Today? Have a fabulous Saturday!!

“Live a custom life. There is only one you.”™

xo Ann

Wednesday Style Points: Be Present & Don’t Panic Just Because Thanksgiving is on Thursday :)

Wednesday Style Points: Be Present & Don’t Panic Just Because Thanksgiving is on Thursday 🙂

Style = Stronghold of the Soul if you ask me

Points = Reference, Data, Markers, Milestones….

Our Style Points (good or bad) are often revealed under pressure

I used to think I had to be able to bake like this. I have let that go…am better at other things & everyone around me is relieved!

When deadlines loom, especially on the HOME front

Do we panic?

Or are we present?

Gratitude paves the way for being present

Not always easy. I like things quite perfect, thank you very much…but it’s a process!! And so this is for the custom ME as well as the custom YOU.

We have food. We have tables. We have shelter. We have breath & therefore hope.

Guess there is something You and I still need to do cause we’re still here type thing…

I am not the “pie maker” in the family! Wish I had the touch, but no crust from my kitchen will make you swoon. My father tried to teach me. “It’s all in the wrist Ann” but to no avail. Decorate the baking area IN the kitchen? A+. Bake in the baking area? C. With GRATITUDE I am PRESENT to relinquish this task. I do not PANIC trying to be something I am not.

Have a peek at two extreme “Couture Chateaus” that comfort & reassure me.

As preparations for a perfect American Thanksgiving are underway…

These places inspire me because I imagine the people who inhabit them have style points

I actually love the simplicity of these tents. There is purpose + function here. And a bit of color!

They are living the life they are meant to live – custom – couture – as they are

I have always loved stone. Longevity + Strength. Never perfect, ages beautifully.

Whether its a backpack or a manse

Just for today, be the person you are supposed to be – and let that come through in all your preparation, whether it’s something as simple as selecting cheeses & olives or as massive as cooking & decorating for 50+.


And next week?! ALL those Holiday Pics we’ve been taking.

For now – best. From us to you.

“Live a custom life. There is only one you.”™

xo Ann

Monday Matters: Designed Intentionally = Grace Full Homes

Monday Matters: Designed Intentionally = Grace Full Homes

You know it when you enter the door

Is your home a place where friends are welcome?

Is the home you are visiting the place where grace lives?

Does it have a grateful vibe?

Are people welcomed? Is visiting a pleasant endeavor?


One of my favorite holidays. It represents all that is good about our Hearts & Homes.

One of my favorite holidays. Truly.

As you spend the next few days getting ready for Thanksgiving, remember, there is only one YOU.

YOUR intentional choices, in design, in life, matter.

I am writing these for myself & my staff this week. Printed & posted, letting the Magazine Worthy Spread go….& embracing the process of creating the practical custom holiday home filled with a clean powder room, a welcoming living room & an open heart for who ever needs the blessing.

1. EMBRACE who you are right now.

It’s ok to be in process…EVEN if you are hosting Thanksgiving!!

Practical Reality: If your home space isn’t what you imagined it should be…let it go. Clean the best you can, create order & let the custom life you are creating RIGHT NOW shine through. It’s ok to be “in the process”.

I love this image…if you have no time or budge to set an over the top table…buy some lemons & make proverbial lemonade! Apples, grapefruit – even bell peppers work for this simple custom place card…from Country Living

2. ENGAGE who you are hosting

There is NO such thing as the Perfect Family! Even Adam & Eve had trouble with their kids ;)!

Practical Reality: Remember everyone is dealing with something. For whatever reason, you are in their path. Offer yourself, your ears, your heart, your home with sincerity. Sometimes our friends just need a clean living room to soothe their soul & the custom path you have walked is exactly what they need.

I know & I confess, I CARE about preparation

Preparing our homes for this favored Holiday of mine takes a TON of work

A simple lovely table.

No doubt about it

Couture Chateaus = Layered, intentional woven spaces + places

Monday Matters: Those tidbits that help us begin the week

They remind us that even our Couture Chateau’s are a process….

Be encouraged. Where ever you are in this process, please be encouraged.

It matters. YOU matter.

“Live a custom life. There is only one you.”™

xo Ann

Saturday Stuff: Reigning in My Design Imagination

Saturday Stuff: Reigning in My Design Imagination

There is an unwelcome Custom Crafter lurking in my soul

Don’t let her out often, but during the Holiday Season, she rears her head….

Really Ann?

How can I possibly think there is a good place to put a fake turkey with custom feathers

Humor Helps!

Do I really need an 8 foot tall Nutcracker…or better yet, two?!

Pull me back from the ledge!

As I found myself wandering Home Goods in search of some decorative green glass bowls for a specialized table setting – really, it was legit work – I heard myself thinking…

What if I customized those…

Where can I customize that….

Do I have a client that needs custom colored glitter this season….


So here’s my Saturday Confessional…that Custom Crafter lurks in many of us

Don’t be discouraged…good taste always has a counterpart

As mother used to say “All things in moderation”

So if you find yourself covered in glitter & fake turkey feathers, remember you are with the best of us. That’s what closets are for!!

Have a fabulous Saturday!!

“Live a custom life. There is only one you.”™

xo Ann

P.S. I’ll be the woman in Home Goods with a scarf & sunglasses….pretending the Holiday Season is beneath me…..meanwhile, the glitter is being custom colored for the custom garland to match my custom crewel as we speak…;)!

Frugal Friday: My Go To Place Card Holders for the Thanksgiving Table

Frugal Friday: My Go To Place Card Holders for the Thanksgiving Table

I am rarely accused of setting a casual table

Love place cards, salt cellars…specialized china, framed menus…all of it

I do have one Fun Frugal place card holder though.

It’s actually a standby + fill in. Works with just about every setting.

Don’t laugh. And if you already use this type, :)!

Simple, clear glass base. The ones I have are stars and we use them all year, for all occasions. The metal can easily be shaped & twisted around a nice quality card. I like them because you aren’t married to the shape.

Pier One Photo Holders. The CLEAR ones.

3 in a box = $5

Remember: the wire bends! You aren’t married to the motif.

Current stock at my house? Well, let’s just say I first discovered them when they were on sale & I “took out” three stores

Self Print Business Cards make great Frugal Name Cards. Not too heavy = no “fall down”.

This is a simple, inexpensive way to add those detail touches without breaking the bank.

Besides, the clear glass doesn’t compete with a beautifully set table.

Customize the business card to your hearts content – especially fun to see which “Business Card Template” happens to work with your Table Setting! You’d be surprised!

Have a great day.

“Live a custom life. There is only one you.”™

xo Ann

Thursday Spotlight: 2 Simple Tips to Grand Thanksgiving Style

Thursday Spotlight: 2 Simple Tips to Grand Thanksgiving Style

Thanksgiving upon us

Wish I could “bend & snap” my Table + Home Decor into existence

But even with helpers…no avail…

Why I like SIMPLE + PRACTICAL counsel = real STYLE

Here are my Top 2 Simple Tips to achieve Grand Thanksgiving Style

1. Go with multiples. LOTS of multiples.

Curious Country Creations. Martha viewers already know. What I am saying is that Grand doesn’t have to be Ormolu…tho I do have a place in my heart for that ;)…

One of my clients this season is using wheat stalks. Tied, varying heights + locations. Placed in tole cachepots which have pride of place all year long, the multiple component is what makes it look grand.

Another simple multiple = white pumpkins

I know, you’ve seen it done. THE POINT = groupings by color + type work! Even an old collection of tacky pilgrims can be staged well on a table if they are all spray painted ivory & stripped of their cheesy clothing! Grand is a visual read. Small spaces can be entirely grand. This image from Home Ideas Design.

2. 21″ Wide Geo Mesh

Seriously fabulous stuff

It’s miracle cream for the home decor business


The visual is a simple pencil skirt + top in a matching color with statement necklace.

Ribbon = outfit

Multiples = statement necklace.

My color this season? Pale Yellow + Raffia with Gold

These work with the colors in my own home + transition Thanksgiving to New Years. Notice the price? $10 per roll. Sweet.

Offray is my favorite brand, but any brand will do.

 There you have it. 2 Simple Tips.

Cool Part? If you are behind the 8 ball…there is still time to pull this off nicely 😉

“Live a custom life. There is only one you.”™

xo Ann