Natural Shells For Elegant Décor | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

Looking through resources for my interior designing need, I found beautiful accessories for the table at One King’s Lane.  Two sets of salt and pepper vessels made of seashells on silver really struck my fancy.
They are dainty, the coloration is beautiful, and I am thinking a voiles or chiffon tablecloth will be perfect to stage a table. Each plate will have a shell as place card holder, one large shell for bread, a mother of pearl champagne bucket and some nautilus votive scattered on the table should set an inviting dinner scene. 

Looking at the shape of the shells comes to mind their original function: to conceal a living matter inside of them and to keep the secret of the marine abysses. When we go to the seaside to catch shells, it’s almost a compulsory gesture to bring a shell to the ear. We hear the sea waves moving and we immediately imagine stories of navigation and far away lands. We think it is all so mysterious because a romantic explanation at time is better than a scientific one, but in reality the shape of the shell and the limestone material that makes it, promote the echoing sound of the sea. (photos of shell items from One King’s Lane)


The relation between shells and sea is very strong as it is associated with the feminine element of fertility, in fact the word shell comes from the Latin word conchilium meaning to conceal in a shell. Venus, the goddess of love was generated from the sea inside of a shell. Italian painter Botticelli painted her in his masterpiece of the XIV century (photo below). We are born in water too in our mother’s womb, our shell. In other words the source of life is to be found in the water and the woman is its vehicle.

Shells keep the secrets of oceans and earth, shipwrecks, lives lost, earthquakes, moon influence, sun’s scorching heat and people’s touches transferring feelings and sicknesses with their hands. Some people think once shells have found a new place in a house décor will communicate to the household all the secrets they keep, bringing in the good and the bad luck, regardless of their beauty. Legend? I don’t know, but I heard it from an astrologer.

In history shells became an important symbol to mark properties, to indicate social casts, family crests and coats of arms. The shell became the symbol of the Italian Renaissance, a rebirth in the fields of arts, architecture, music, literature and scientific discoveries after the dark age of the Medieval era. In Europe shell symbols are found on important building as churches, cathedrals and political establishments.

I was attracted by the colors of these superb tableware and the elegant simplicity they enclose. Knowing the history and legends attached to shells would make an interesting conversation topic with the guests.

Let me help you decorating and staging your next dinner party with unusual object d’art. Please leave your name in the box below. Ciao,

Copyright © 2012 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Valentina Cirasola transforms and creates spaces realizing people’s dreams in homes, offices, interiors and exteriors. She infuses your everyday living with a certain luxury without taking away a comfortable living. As an interior designer with a passion for kitchens and cooking she loves to remodel homes and loves to turn unattractive spaces into castles, but especially loves to design kitchens and wine grottos.

She is the author of RED-A Voyage Into Colors, the forthcoming book on the subject of colors, in publication at this time. Check out her two published books on Italian regional cuisine, available on this site on the Books page and on Amazon.


Waiting For New Year | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

One of the pleasures of entertaining family or friends is the setting of the table process. Food of course should be the focus of the table. A well-decorated table with poorly prepared food does very little for the spirit and I would say for the stomach too.
Once I was asked to describe bad food and my answer was “food haphazardly scrambled together but presented well”.

Having a theme in mind is one of the important elements when styling a table. Creating light, dark, shadow and silhouettes are super ways to illuminate the space around the dining table.  Repeat the same trick on the table with the decorations.
(Click on the photo to vie it larger).

Christmas Table Setting by ©Valentina Cirasola

If a chandelier is over the table and candles on the table, you might want to create an ambience by turning the chandelier on dimmer and let the candles cast a warm shadow.
Recessed down lighting over the dining table is a bit tricky. If a down lighting is not placed properly, all the people sitting at the dining table will have a dark shadow under the eyes and everyone will look a bit more aged than they really are.

Inside of a theme, select the season, texture and the colors you want to assemble. The solutions are endless as you can imagine. You have the choice of keeping every thing in the same coloration or texture, which gives the table a calming effect. You also have the choice of making a creative or funky arrangement.

Let’s take a few colors as samples.
If you want to create a tablescape with the sea in mind, the underwater world includes all the blues from the darkest ocean to blue sky but also includes all the blue-green tonalities of the underwater garden vegetation.
For a nature inspired table setting, the green beauties will include all the variation of foliage colors to olive greens.
A fall arrangement will have a riot of colors to choose from. You can select the reds with an undertone of orange and pink; the oranges that lean towards pink, the purples with a red base, or you can mix browns bleeding into shades of grays.
If the colors of natural gems inspire you, add some metal texture to the tablescape. Gems and metals are both two elements formed in nature; they combine well with the drinking glasses and fabric cloth, two other kinds of texture.

Tablecloth and napkins must not be necessarily of the same set and colors.  Actually if they don’t match is even better, will make the table an interesting canvas to look at.

In my arrangement of the end of the year I did not want the usual red cloth most people use for festivities. Instead, I chose to use dark colors on the table illuminated by metal candle lanterns to emulate the dark winter night, the light of the stars over buildings and the new spiritual light that will infuse the night turning into a new year.

The year 2012 has been described as the year of the Aquarius, not as the ‘60s movies, but as a very spiritual year, a new era of rebirth and enlightenment. Colors will take inspirations from nature, but the exciting part is that we can create a mysterious combination with the undertone of each color and use it in a new way to set the mood, or create high contrast never done before.

This year let me help you projecting your personal image, your home image, or your party tables into new modern, graphic colors that will speak about you and your personality. The current millennium loves colors! Happy New Year, make it great, make it fun. Ciao,

Copyright © 2012 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer and former Fashion Designer, working in the USA and Europe since 1990. She blends well fashion with interior and colors the world of her clients. She has been described as “the colorist” and loves to create the unusual.
She is the author of  ©RED- A Voyage Into Colors the forthcoming book on the subject of colors. She is also a published author of two Italian regional cuisine books available here on this site on the Books page and in various other locations.  



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