Christmas Atmospheres | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

This year I would like to suggest nature simplicity on Christmas table. Let’s stay away from the artificial decorations and stinking petroleum candles. Let’s make instead “organic” the focus of our table and I mean even organic food. Let’s turn our attention to food grown locally with zero travel and zero carbon emission. How do you do that? Read labels and ask questions to your grocer, find out where the food you want to buy is coming from and make your decisions. As far as decorations a simple trip to your local market will suffice to find your decorations as well.

Tall decorations on the table look impressive, we got used to see them in stores or magazines and never understood why we want to copy the same look for our tables, considering that those vignettes are about merchandising and displaying products for sale. Decorating a table is about creating an atmosphere of pleasing colors and tasty food, these are the only attractions of a table, to which we must add harmonious and well diverse company sitting under a suiting light.

Guests sitting at the table must be able to talk to the guests across the table without the obstruction of tall decorations. This year think of grocery shops as inspiration for your table centerpiece and play with food arrangements, pumpkins, tomatoes, vegetables, flowers and pine cones. On both sides of each guest there must be at least 18” of space to perform certain actions with ease like cutting food, but if space around the table is limited each guest should have at least a foot of clearance.

Light coming from above the table such as a chandelier should be suffuses but not totally dimmed, you want your guests to see the color of food and the beautiful table setting. Recessed lights must be directed over the plates and the lights above the two head table need to crisscross at the center of the table to highlight the centerpiece. If recessed lighting is not set right, it will create bags under your guests’ eyes and your women guests will not appreciate it, be kind to them, don’t make them seem older or sick.

Cover the table with an elegant tablecloth, it is Christmas after all, treat yourself and your guests to something special. I have three suggestions:
1. Flandre linen, high quality monochromatic textile produced in Belgium since the 1800s. It is very formal.
2. Chambray linen, produced in the city of Cambrai, France. This is a plain weaved fabric with a hint of silk, also produced since the 1800s. It is perfect for casual elegance.
3. Boutis, a Provençal quilting cloth used for table covers made in the South of France since the 19th century. It is similar to the Italian Trapunto, which started in Italy before the 14th century and still produced today. It gives the table a semi-formal look.

On top of the tablecloth add the most beautiful dishes you have, be creative even in mixing and matching if you like, add all the glasses and flatware and let the dinner roll. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

 

Copyright © 2014 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

PrintValentina Cirasola has been a lifetime designer in fashion and interiors. Her extensive knowledge of colors and materials led her in both directions successfully. Vogue Italy featured her as the guru of staging a home in the theatrical way. Among designing and remodeling homes, designing custom-made furniture and writing books, Valentina is now teaching etiquette, table manners, table setting and life style. Check out her latest books ©Red-A Voyage Into Colors on the subject of colors, available on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Organize Your Kitchen To Please Your Soul | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

KitchPerspective2

Most of you know the kitchen is my favorite room, I like to design it and I like to live in it. In my family, the kitchen is the place to resolve our difficulties and the place where we invite the real friends to sit. (Click on each photo to view it larger).
I executed my schoolwork on the kitchen table, where I could be part of my family life, instead of being closed in my room alone.

Most of the kitchens of today are conveniently located near the garage or entry door and just because it is convenient turns into in a dumping ground for mail, bills, magazine and stuff.

Nowadays we got so complicated we must have Feng Shui in the kitchen too, but when I was growing up we called it common sense. Here you will find some of my life habits on how to keep the kitchen in harmony with the soul.

* September is the month of cleaning the kitchen cupboards inside and out. Prepare the kitchen for the coming holidays, make room for new serving dishes and cooking equipment you might buy this Fall. Some are so inviting!
This is the time you will get the opportunity to throw away or donate all the items you don’t want anymore. Get rid of those non-matching plates and glasses that have lost their companions. Cupboards need to be completely emptied out of contents at least every change of season to keep a clean positive energy in the kitchen. If the job feels too overwhelming, get help, there are plenty people out there who want to do this kind of work.

  • Keep all the bills in the home office, study, or any room dedicated to office/school tasks, but please don’t take the bills in the bedroom. Kitchen functions are  for cooking, tasting, and conversations. Keep everything else out of it, unless you have a dedicated desk in a corner of the kitchen.
  • Today we see mail with suspicion. Mail is no longer welcomed, as when a letter arrived from far away, or we received friendly cards from people we knew.  Today we get bombarded with emails and our post mail is filled with advertisements and junk mail. Stand by a fireplace or trash when reading the mail of the day and don’t even let it in the kitchen.
  • Recycle all the store plastic bags you bring home with food or other items. I reuse them as garbage bags and I have no need to buy more plastics. Recycle also any paper bags for other uses, such as packaging wrap, for more shopping, or to keep in the car as garbage bags. In my garage, I have two containers, one for recycled plastic bags and one for paper bags rolled up neatly.
  • Organize all the food plastic containers, find the matching lids and keep them together in one place. Throw away containers without lids. The same applies to cooking tools. There is nothing more irritating than being in need of a cooking tool ready for the task and instead finding a tangle up mess of tools in the kitchen cabinet drawers.

    CoffeeStation(photo: BHG)

  • If  kitchen space will not allow to store large pots, baking pans or slow cookers, take these items to an adjacent closet.
  • Appliances garage and roll out shelves are designed on purpose to keep small appliances out of sight and counters neatly clean.
  • I like to keep my expensive chef knives in a drawer with a magnet to keep the knives from sliding back and forth and to protect the tips.
  • To have a fresh lemony air in the kitchen, put lemon peels in the sink garbage disposal, lemon peel in the dishwasher utensil tray and lemon potpourri sachet in each kitchen drawer and cabinets.
  • I don’t like my kitchen steamed up with cooking vapors, not only it creates condensation, but the odors will stay in the house, especially if the kitchen has an open floor plan communicating with other rooms. The vapors and grease will go up to ceiling and will come down on the upholstered furniture. Keeping windows opened during cooking will redirect vapors outside and you might hear the wild birds singing at you for the good aroma you are producing in the kitchen.
  • Have you thought of a calendar for family activities and one for weekly menus? My mother added a comment at the very top of our weekly menu calendar:
    “If any of you don’t like this week menu, there are plenty restaurants that will take your money”. Needless to say we, teenagers kids ate at home all the time.
  • Prepare your table with a tablecloth and napkins, every time you eat at the table, even if you eat alone. Feeding your soul with beauty and comfort will distract your stomach from overeating.

Enjoying fresh food prepared in the kitchen, to me this is an important ritual. Kitchen and food nourish and bound the family together.
Kids who grew up with good food and pleasant kitchen atmosphere will always want to return home even after they have formed their life.
(Photo right found on: http://www.magazyndomowy.pl/przechowywanie-w-kuchni/zdjecie/14971/)

I am here ready to help, if you need to organize your kitchen and feel really overwhelmed with the task, just leave your name in the box below.
Ciao,
Valentina
www.Valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer with a passion for kitchens and cooking. She operates in the USA and Europe. She loves to remodel homes and loves to turn ugly spaces into castles, but especially loves to design kitchens and wine grottos, outdoor kitchens and outdoor rooms, great rooms and entertainment rooms. She is the author of two published books on regional Italian cuisine, available here in this site on the Books page and in various other locations:

http://outskirtspress.com/ComeMiaNonna

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lnq8baaAq0M

http://outskirtspress.com/SinsOfAQueen

 

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